Looking back at 2020 | Head On Photo Festival

Looking back at 2020

Image: Marcia Macmillan


2020 has certainly been a challenging year for many, and the arts industry has not been spared its fair share of challenges. Big and timely decisions allowed the Head On team to react quickly and meet the challenges....'head on'.

Head On Photo Festival will be back in November 2021 with a new selection of artists and exhibitions. We will open for submissions in January 2021 - make sure you subscribe to our mailing list for more updates.


Head On(line)

Earlier this year, as the pandemic swept across the world and cultural institutions closed their doors, it became clear that Head On Photo Festival 2020 would not proceed as planned. We were able to work quickly and effectively to produce the world-first entirely online photography festival.

The online Festival kicked things off with an online live launch event hosted by Festival director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM and special guest host Osher Günsberg. We announced the winners of the Head On Photo Awards and awarded $70,000 in prizes. 

Head On(line) Photo Festival was a great success with 80,000  people visiting online exhibitions or attending an online event. The Festival featured 111 exhibitions and 82 events. As the Festival was online, it was able to reach a whole new audience who would not normally be able to travel to Sydney, including those interstate, in regional Australia and overseas.

Image: Daniel Shaw, Festival director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM with special host Osher Günsberg at the launch of Head On(line) Photo Festival


July - Head On to Bondi

In July, as restrictions in Sydney began to ease, Head On curated and produced a series of outdoor exhibitions for installation along the fence at Bondi Beach. These exhibitions, focusing on environmental themes, were a welcome cultural addition to visitors' and locals' everyday landscapes after the cancellation of many cultural and arts events.

 Image: Moshe Rosenzveig OAM

Head On in Print

In November, Head On presented a physical Festival with printed exhibitions in outdoor spaces and galleries around Sydney. It was fantastic to finally see these exhibitions take physical form.

A highlight of the Festival was Paper Tigers, featuring 60 images from 60 Australian photojournalists. The exhibition was held at Twenty Twenty Six Gallery in Bondi and received fantastic feedback. The exhibition catalogue is a phenomenal survey of Australian photojournalism with fascinating images from Australian history and culture. The first edition has now sold out here and you can order a copy for delivery in the new year.

Buy exhibition catalogue

 Image: Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, Paper Tigers exhibition opening at Twenty Twenty Six Gallery, Bondi

The physical Festival also included stunning outdoor exhibitions in public spaces at Bondi Beach and Paddington Reservoir Gardens.

 Images: Moshe Rosenzveig OAM

Virtual exhibition tours are coming soon! 



We were excited to develop new partnerships and collaborations and continue existing connections this year.

In a collaboration with the Royal College of Music, London, students at RCM composed new works inspired by images from the Head On Portrait Award finalists. The works were performed live and are now available to stream on-demand.

 Image: Selected Head On Portrait Award finalists 


Head On presented an exhibition in collaboration with aMBUSH Gallery at Kambri, ANU in Canberra. The exhibition, 'Where I Stand' featured six iconic Australian photographers – Michael Cook, Dr. Judith Crispin, Sarah Ducker, Murray Fredericks, Barbara McGrady and Michael Jalaru Torres.

Image: Martin Ollman

We returned to The Pingyao International Photography Festival (China), this year, with an exhibition of the stunning Head On Landscape Award 2020 finalists. And exhibited, for the first time, at the Guizhou Photography Festival (China), featuring the 2018 and 2019 Landscape Award finalists.

Image: Courtesy of The Pingyao International Photography Festival 

Head On also collaborated with Swiss photography museum, Fotomuseum Winterthur, for the online panel discussion 'Exposing the Unexposed – Feminist Collectives and Street Photography.'' The fascinating discussion looked at feminist collectives and their influence in a male dominated industry.


Head On Spotlight

In 2020, we introduced Head On Spotlight, online, monthly, live discussions featuring acclaimed members of the photography world. Speakers have included Roger Ballen, Stephen Dupont, Kate Geraghty, Judith Nangala Crispin and Murray Fredericks. The sessions are free for Head On members, and Head On members can view recordings of all previous sessions.

Image: Judith Nangala Crispin

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See Spotlight sessions


Thank you for all of your support over the year, especially to our amazing members. We hope you have enjoyed the program Head On produced for 2020, either virtually or in person. We will see you all next year with an exciting new program of exhibitions and events.



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