The very first StreetFoto Street Photography Festival will be held on June 8-12 in San Franciso, California. The international festival will feature 4 days of workshops, lectures, and exhibits plus a world class photography competition judged by some of the top names in street photography. Hit the jump for all the details!
StreetFoto Street Photography Festival
San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world but it’s not a place that’s normally associated with street photography. StreetFoto aims to change that with 4 days of workshops, lectures, exhibits and a world class street photography competition. This looks like the start of something great!
I reached out to festival founder, Ken Walton and asked him a few questions about the StreetFoto street photography festival.
StreetShootr: Hi Ken, how did the StreetFoto Street Photography Festival come to be?
Ken Walton: Hi Karl! I kind of hatched this idea about a year ago. I had been shoot street for a while and I was really passionate about it and I just wanted to try and take it somewhere.
I took a workshop early last year with Matt Stuart and we were out for beers with the group later and he was just asking people, “What do you want to do with street photography? Where do you want to go with it?” Different people take it in different directions – some people wanted to work on long term projects and others were happy just shoot every day. Both were great answers and things I’d like to do too!
But I also had this idea to create a community and sort of give something back. And also to try to promote San Francisco as a great place to shoot. There are great shooters here but it’s really not well known on the world street photography map. So I guess that was the start of the idea.
SS: I can’t resist drawing a connection to the Miami Street Photography Festival. Is this an East Coast vs. West Coast street photography war? [Laughs]
KW: No, I actually went back to Miami this year and said hello to everyone back there. I’ve emailed back and forth with Juan-Jose and told him I was trying to put this together and we talked a little bit about it. There’s good will between us – I don’t think this is a Biggie / Tupac thing. [Laughs]
SS: I had to bring it up. It was too tempting to leave alone!
KW: Sure! But there’s no rivalry there at all. It’s a lot of fun to put together so I’m loving every minute of it.
SS: It seems no street photography festival is complete without a competition. What’s different about the StreetFoto competition? What sets this one apart?
KW: I actually got together with Eric Kim a few months ago to help me brain storm ideas for this. And he really encouraged me to have low income sponsorship for the festival. There are a lot of very talented street photographers in places around the world for whom a 20 dollar entry fee for a photo is a lot of money. And there’s incredible talent coming out of places like South Asia – Swapnil Jedhe just won Miami this year. There are a lot of photographers around the world that may not be able to afford the entry fees.
We’re using Submittable as our contest service provider and they allow a certain number of fee free entries. So people to get a sponsored listing based on their income status and enter a photo for free. That’s one big thing we’re doing to distinguish ourselves.
SS: Who’s judging the competition?
KW: We’re really excited about the judges.
For the first round, we have 5 members of the Burn My Eye Collective including Justin Vogel, TC Lin, Don Hudson, Andrew Kochanowski, and Zisis Kardianos. And the finalist round is being judged by Richard Bram, Blake Andrews, Vineet Vohra, Rohit Vohra. Some big names in the street photography community for sure.
A few of these people are actually admins for the Hardcore Street Photography Group on Flickr. These guys are some of the best curators in the business and they’re used to seeing large volumes of street photography and picking out the really good ones. So I’m excited to have their cutting edge, super contemporary perspective for this first contest.
SS: One thing that really stood out for me was the mobile category. It’s an often overlooked part of street photography!
KW: The writing is on the wall with that one. It’s kind of funny, the Shot On iPhone 6s ad campaign has billboards all over San Francisco. And the first wave of them are all street shots. I think the writing is on the wall with the use of mobile devices. It’s already being done. You’re not seeing it at the highest levels yet but there are extremely talented photographers that use mobile only. So the lines are going to blur.
I’m happy to embrace that and show how great mobile street photography can be at the festival.
SS: What are the prizes like for the first year?
KW: It’s $1000 for the top single image, $750 for street photography series and $500 for the mobile category.
Eric Kim actually encouraged me to not even have prizes like that because winning a contest should be about the prestige. And I agree with that but I like the idea of adding a little extra as well.
SS: The StreetFoto Street Photography Festival has 4 workshops including 2 with Jack Simon, one with Richard Bram and another with Vineet Vohra. Tell us a little bit about your decision process there.
KW: I put out the word trying to find people whose work I respected who also did workshops. I sent out some invitations and we ended up with 3 excellent photographers.
Richard Bram was one of those guys, I watched him in the Nick Turpin documentary where he had the video camera mounted on the top of his Leica. I’m a big fan of his work and he’s able to speak intelligently about street photography. He goes way back, he’s a New York guy. So when he said yes that became our flagship.
I’m also a big fan of Jack Simon’s work. He hasn’t done a lot of workshops in the past but he’s very intelligent and has an excellent way of talking about street photography as well. I asked him to be involved in any way possible and he brought up the idea of doing a workshop. It was actually his idea – I didn’t know that was an option because I hadn’t seen any listed on his website. So I immediately said yes!
Vineet Vohra just come on board recently and I’m so happy to have him be a part of the workshops and the festival. He’s an amazing photographer and an influential voice in the street photography community.
SS: Do the workshops have a theme? Or are they more about just shooting?
KW: The Richard Bram one doesn’t have a theme specifically, it’s really all about shooting with Richard Bram. The Jack Simon ones are focused in the field. And he’s going to shoot with students and talk a lot while he shoots. He really wants to be out there with them. Both Richard and Jack Simon are in-the-field workshoppers.
The Vohra workshop will be a typical lecture/shoot/critique workshop and it’s called “The Art of Storytelling.” So it will focus on creating a series of images linked by a common theme or narrative. It’s about creating a project, rather than just great single images.
This dovetails nicely with the fact that Vineet is a final-round judge for the street photography series contest. I also like the fact that Vohra’s style is very different from the other workshop teachers. If you think of Bram as the “New York School” then Vohra is definitely the “New Delhi School”. And Jack has his own unique vision which stands on its own.
I think the three together creates a very well-rounded set of workshops.
SS: On top of the workshops, there’s a host of lectures and other events that are happening. Is there anything that really stands out for you?
KW: We’ve rented the Rayco Photo Center here in San Francisco. It’s a huge space completely dedicated to the craft of photography. They have massive darkroom space, huge digital lab, they have artists in residence, and a really big gallery space. And they have an incredible collection of antique cameras.
So we’re doing a big group show for the Burn My Eye Collective there. I think several of them are coming into town for it. That’s going to be the wednesday night event. Probably the first big gathering at the festival.
SS: A gala gallery opening!
KW: Right! And it’s separate to the main venue where we’re doing speeches. So it’s kind of like they got their own thing going on over there. We’ll do some workshops at Rayco as well. That space is definitely one of the highlights for me.
SS: This sounds amazing, Ken. It’s great to see the street photography community being supported with another great festival. I’m really looking forward to this one!
KW: Thanks Karl, it’s been great talking to you!
You can find out more about the StreeFoto street photogrpahy festival at the offical website:
StreetFoto has expanded its panel of judges for the photography competition to include many active, working street photographers whose work is widely respected and admired. The list reads like a who’s who of the street photography community:
Single Image Judges:
First-round: Justin Vogel, Don Hudson, TC Lin, Andrew Kochanowski, Zisis Kardianos, and Tavepong Pratoomwong.
Finalist-round: Richard Bram, Blake Andrews.
Street Photography Series Judges:
First-round: Michelle Rick, Chris Farling, Danielle Houghton, Sixft Whiterabbit, Lauren Welles
Finalist-round: Vineet Vohra, Rohit Vohra
Mobile Street Photography Judge:
Molly Porter (More judges to be announced).
More information about the judges can be found on the judges page at streetfoto.org. And full contest details are available at:
Have a look at Ken Walton’s Flickr stream and you’ll see some impressive work. The StreetFoto street photography festival is being run by a street photographer who gets it and this goes a long way towards ensuring the event is on target.
The workshops sound great, the lineup of lectures and exhibits is solid, and I really like that fact that the competition has a mobile category. It shows that Ken’s mind is on the present and the future of street photography. I’m genuinely excited about the StreetFoto Street Photography Festival and it’s great to see the West Coast pay some attention to the street photography community.
There’s going to be a lot of amazing street photographers in San Francisco in June. I’m doing my best to get down there too!
What’s your take on the StreetFoto Street Photography Festival? A welcome addition to the West Coast street photography community? Or will you wait to see how the first one goes before leaving your heart in San Francisco? Post your ideas in the comments below and keep the conversation going!