Head On brings together the best work from photographers from all corners of the profession, from amateur to photojournalism, iPhoneography, fine art and everything in between. This year 900 photographers will take part in 140 exhibitions and events from global and local storytellers. Here’s what not to miss.

Head On Portrait Prize
Head On opens with the announcement of the winners of the Head On Portrait Prize, the most critically acclaimed portrait competition in Australia. With more than 4000 entries from photographers of all backgrounds and styles, this is the perfect way to start your Head On Photo Festival experience.
Friday May 16
Paddington Town Hall
249 Oxford Street

Richard and Famous by Richard Simpkin
Richard Simpkin has spent the past 24 years travelling the world and documenting his interactions with celebrities. The result is a fascinating look at celebrity culture and identity in this selection of self-portraits from his repertoire of mire than 2000 images.
May 8 – May 22
Level 6 Westfield Bondi Junction
500 Oxford Street


Mary Ellen Mark
Mark’s iconic images will be displayed in her first Australian solo exhibition. Familiar work such as Tiny (a portrait of a street kid dressed in a Halloween costume) will be displayed alongside Mark’s 1998 National Geographic assignment that documented indigenous communities and immigrants in Sydney.
May 7 – June 7
Stills Gallery
36 Gosbell Street, Paddington


Sudarios by Erika Diettes
Diettes’ moving portraits of Colombian women who have witnessed the torture and murder of loved ones are printed on seven-foot pieces of silk that hang suspended in space.
May 12–June 8
Saint Canice Church
28 Roslyn Street, Elizabeth Bay
Artist Talk Sunday May 18 at 12pm


Benjamin Lowy 24 Hours
Award-winning photographer Benjamin Lowy will be running Head On’s inaugural 24-hour workshop event. Lowy will take groups of 10 photographers on journeys through the city to teach them the skills that have made him a pioneer of mobile photography in photojournalism.
May 17 – May 18 Lowy’s work will also be on display at Paddington Reservoir from May 17 – June 8 headon.com/24hoursbenlowy

MCA Photobook Day
Attention bookworms: Australia’s leading photobook publishers and editors will join forces with indie street producers to bring you some of the countries best photobooks at this one-day event running alongside the MCA zine fair.
May 25
MCA, 140 George Street

Humble Mothers
This show from Belgian photographer Caroline Pankert features striking portraits of shunned Indian widows. In Indian culture, the loss of a husband is often a one-way ticket towards isolation and poverty, and some women are still conditioned to tolerate the violation of their dignity as a kind of atonement for an imagined "sin" - in other words, the responsibility of their husband's death.
May 13 - June 7
Gallery Lane Cove, 164 Longueville Road

Pitt Street Mall Photo Booth
This year you can participate in the portrait-making process by sitting as a subject for a Head On photographer inside a 20 foot shipping container on Pitt Street Mall. Ben Lowy, Erica Diettes, Chris Rainier and others will be capturing the public to create a wall-photo installation with the photos available for purchase on site.
May 12 – June 8
189 Pitt Street Mall
Sydney CBD

Notable group shows at Gaffa Creative Project, The Depot Gallery and the first dual exhibition from iconic modernist photographer Olive Cotton and her daughter Sally McInerney should also make it on to your list of Head On must-sees.

Find more Information and the full festival program at headon.com