The sheer volume of the Head On Photo Festival is impressive. Now in its ninth year, the respected photographic event features more than 700 photographs in more than 100 exhibitions, with the main festival hub in Paddington, in the city’s inner east.

From May 4 to May 20, Sydney will host world-renowned photographers, innovative workshops and events, with amazing images on show for everyone from budding snappers to collectors.

Some of the highlights include never-before-seen photographs of George Harrison (the Beatles) and Eric Clapton by original 1960s “it girl” Pattie Boyd, who was first wife to both musicians. There’s also photojournalism works exploring America’s obsession with guns and Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal campaign against drugs. Emma Hack, known for illustrating Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know film clip has two exhibitions.

If you want to hit up multiple venues, Paddington is your best bet. More than 20 exhibitions take place here, from Paddington Town Hall to the Reservoir Gardens and more than 30 shopfronts along Oxford Street.

Some of the festival’s more ambitious installations will appear in the Royal Botanic Gardens – the first time as a festival location – from a floating exhibition in one of the ponds to an interactive app-based collection.

"In a first for the festival we'll also be showcasing works from some of the biggest and most-respected photo competitions and awards,” says festival director Moshe Rosenzveig. “Finalists and winners from the most recent Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize, Tokyo International Photography Competition, Alpha Awards and Wildlife Photographer of the Year will be shown at Head On this year.”

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The festival kicks off tonight with an awards gala celebrating the work of both emerging and established photographers (tickets are free), with $60,000 in prizes up for grabs.

Head On Photo Festival is on from Friday May 4 until Sunday May 20 in various locations.