Head On is the country’s largest photography festival, and was established by the not-for-profit Head On Foundation in 2008. The 2016 event will show some 50 exhibitions from both emerging and established photographers.

The festival incorporates a prestigious photography prize – 150 finalists across four categories (portrait, landscape, mobile and student) will be exhibited at the Museum of Sydney. The vast program spans the month of May, and covers all facets of the photographic medium. So we’ve pinpointed some of the best events and exhibitions to see.

Mobile Photography – A Genre of Significance
Smart phones have completely transformed photography, and our consumption of the medium. From Twitter photojournalism, to Snapchat filters and selfies, or self-expression on Instagram, photos have quickly become a part of our everyday, snap-happy lives. But a picture is still worth a thousand words. Head On recognises mobile photography as a powerful platform for activists and artists alike, with a special prize category just for images taken on mobiles.

Head On Mobile Prize, April 30 to June 5, Museum of Sydney.

Sven Marquardt – Futures Past
Aside from being a distinguished photographer, Berlin-based Sven Marquardt is a bouncer at the city’s infamous Berghain nightclub. He’s the heavily tattooed, silver-bearded, stylish German turning punters away after an hour-long wait because their shoes are a little too normcore. Marquardt has also written a memoir and done a capsule collection with Hugo Boss. Futures Past will present Marquardt’s black-and-white images in Australia for the first time. The artist will also give a talk at the opening of the exhibition.

From May 5, Ambush Gallery
Artist talk and opening event from 5pm on May 5

Wide Eyed Live Volume 3
Hosted at Tortuga Studios in St Peter’s, Wide Eyed Live captures the best of local live music photography. In its third year, the 2016 presentation features talented female photographers who have darted in and out of mosh pits, or been lucky enough to be backstage, side of stage, or up front and centre at Australian music festivals and gigs.

From Saturday May 7, Tortuga Studios

The Weather
Australia’s extreme terrain and wild weather is a brilliant photographic subject, inspiring ominous images under hashtags such as #sydneystorm. The Weather is a pooled collection of elemental phenomena photographs from Fairfax journalists and Clique Photographic Association members. They capture super-cell thunderstorms, and looming red-orange bushfire flames.

From April 30, Sydney Lower Town Hall
Opening night, Friday April 29 6 – 8pm

Nicola Dracoulis – Living in the Middle of Hackney (LMH)
This photographic series presents the lives of five young people inhabiting London’s inner-city areas. First commissioned in 2008, Dracoulis reshot the same images in 2015, capturing Hackney’s gentrification. The project is a view into suburban stagnancy and slow change, youth, and our assumptions about the future.

From Thursday May 12, Tiny Tailor Gallery

Head On Portrait Prize
Established in 2004, the Head On Portrait Prize is the largest annual display of photographic portraiture in Australia. Finalists are not chosen for their portfolio or based on the status of the sitter. Instead, a panel of judges selects winners based on how well personality and emotion is transmitted into the final image. This year’s finalists include Brett Canet-Gibson, Tobias Titz and Ben Scott. The winner will be announced at the opening of the festival.

Head On runs from April 29 to May 29 at various venues throughout Sydney.
The full program is available here

Streetscaping Workshop
This workshop will teach the fundamentals of street snapping as you meander through Chippendale with professional street photographers Ben Lowy; Belgian-based Nick Hannes; and New York-based Natan Dvir. From composition, to making use of natural light, receive on-the-spot individual feedback, as well as tips and tricks. No need to bring your weighty DSLR, iPhones will suffice.

Saturday April 30 from 2pm–5pm, starts and finishes at the Festival Hub Central, Level 3 Central Park, Broadway. Cost is $167 Book here.

Photojournalism, A Changing World
This panel will discuss the power of news photography in the world’s current climate. High-profile picture editors and photojournalists will address topics such their role in a changing news industry, evolving technology and rapid-fire communication. The panel includes Sydney Morning Herald and Sun-Herald chief photo editor Mags King; founder of VII photo agency Ron Haviv; and photojournalist Kate Geraghty.

Sunday May 1 from 2pm–3pm, QT Sydney. Tickets are $25. Book here.