Exhibition submissions 2021 | Head On Photo Festival

Exhibition submissions 2021

Exhibit in 2021

Open call
Submissions open 18 February - 14 March

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Terms and conditions



Following a disruptive year due to COVID-19 and restrictions, Head On Foundation is delighted to offer select artists a fully produced exhibition with artist fee. This has been made possible for Head On Photo Festival 2021 through the support of Create NSW, City of Sydney, Waverley Council, Woollahra Municipal Council and Sony.  

If you are in a position to help us support artists, please donate here


Head On Photo Festival is Australia’s leading international photographic event

We are looking for diverse, engaging, quality work across still photography, multi-media and video art.  We welcome applications from individual artists, curators, groups and exhibition spaces/galleries, Australian and international. Work can be recent or not - are you sitting on a treasure trove of past images? 

We believe all photo-artists need a fair chance to show their work; proposals submitted through our submission process is judged without the artists’ names or pedigrees, so they stand on their merit alone. 

After the selection panel reviews the submissions, we will invite successful applicants to exhibit during Head On Photo Festival 2021. 



AU$20 (approx US$15 or €12) per submission. Member discount available.

Create submission

Terms and conditions

The 2021 Festival will take place in Sydney during November and will include outstanding international and Australian artists, both established and emerging. We can and will pivot our Festival program online if required. 


Live Q&A and submission tips with Festival Director

Join us and learn what makes an exhibition proposal stand out to a festival selection committee and have your questions answered.

2:00-3:00pm Thursday 4 March 2021 (Sydney time, GMT+11)



Why exhibit at Head On Photo Festival?


Head On Photo Festival is a leading international photography festival. Our reputation is based on our belief that every photo artist deserves a fair chance to show their work. This philosophy has allowed us to be first to show quality work that breaks the mould and exhibit all genres of photography by artists at all career stages. 

Our team works all year round to create opportunities for your work to be seen - many leading industry professionals seeking new and emerging talents follow what we do. Many of our artists go on to exhibit their work at other photo festivals around the world. 

This year's Festival will be a hybrid of online and physical exhibitions and events. We pre-empt any changes in Public Health Orders and travel restrictions through the tried and tested strategies we have in place to ensure that all exhibitions will have not only visibility but also viability. We can and will pivot our Festival program online if required. In 2020 we were the first photo festival in the world to go entirely online: 13,000 people participated in our online workshops and talks, and over 80,000 visited our website and online exhibitions. 

The Festival is also a great opportunity to experience the process of exhibiting your work, meeting other artists and creative professionals and being part of an internationally recognized event.


All exhibitors receive the following benefits: 

- Inclusion in the 2021 Festival, an internationally recognised festival that puts the spotlight on photography, attracting extensive publicity through a variety of promotional channels 

- Access to Head On’s infrastructure built over 17 years 

- Dedicated webpage for each exhibition on www.headon.com.au (also available post-Festival) 

- Inclusion in a widely-distributed printed Festival catalogue 

- Access to premium service providers at discounted fees 

- Invitation to join Head On Photo Festival exhibitors online community 

- Head On help desk 

- Featured exhibitors gain additional benefits 

Above image credits: Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, Stephen Godfrey

Differences between open and Featured programs






Inclusion in an international festival program that is widely promoted in Australia and overseas

Festival registration fees (AUD$) (exhibition costs not included)

Individual - AUD$250
(approx. US$194/€160) 

Organisation - AUD$350 

Individual artist/artist collectives – waived (donations welcome) 

For galleries / organisations - $450 

Artist fee per exhibition  For exhibitions in Head On managed venues 

Help desk and general administration

Access to discounted services

Online exhibition web page (also available to view post-festival)

Inclusion in 2021 Festival printed catalogue

¼ page

1 page

Social media promotion

At Head On’s discretion*

Mention in e-news** (44K+ readers) including key industry leaders


With image at Head On’s discretion

Inclusion in contracted PR agency press-kit


Direct support in finding an exhibition space


Introduction to an exhibition space; curatorial input from Head On Photo Festival Creative Director in consultation with artist /gallery curator 


Fully produced & curated by Head On Photo Festival curatorial team in consultation with the artist; costs covered by Head On Foundation  (management / major festival venue /production / promotion /installation/sales post-festival) 


Exhibition package payable by artists (management /venue /production /installation) working with an independent curator 


Exhibition costs to be discussed with each artist


* After 5 Nov and upon Head On’s discretion and social media schedule, not all across all platforms.

**Or online blog accessed via e-news

***Dependent on available exhibition venues

Note: we do what we can, but cannot guarantee the amount of media and/or public interest in the exhibitions


About work for submission

- We prefer recently completed works (within the last 3-5 years), although works made at any time are accepted 

- Works previously exhibited and published elsewhere are accepted (however if accepted into Head On Photo Festival they must not be exhibited elsewhere in Sydney between 1 September 2021 and 1 January 2022)   

- Collaborative works / group shows are accepted 

- There is no specified size or limit on the number of images for your proposed exhibition. The selection panel does consider the size/quantity of the work in relation to available exhibition spaces 

- We accept any genre of photography including multi-media and video 


Submission checklist

- Go to the submission webpage

- Complete all fields of the form

- Upload 10 images - 1200px on the longest edge (72 dpi, JPG format, less than 500Kb, sRGB)

- For multi-media/video projects please provide 1 still frame and a link to the full video in the ‘exhibition description’ field

- Copy and paste into the form an exhibition description (max 4080 char) and artist bio (max 1220 char)

- Pay the submission fee AUD$20 (approximately US$15/€12) per project (non-refundable)

- Read the Terms and Conditions

Note: The submission process has been optimised for Chrome, Safari and Firefox


Terms and conditions in a nutshell

The key points are:

- You retain copyright over your images 

- If you are invited to exhibit, you allow Head On the right to use submitted images for promotion purposes (yes, you will be credited) 

- We will invite successful Applicants to exhibit in Head On Photo Festival 2021 as either an Open or Featured artist by Friday 9 April 2021 

- Once invited to exhibit during Head On Photo Festival 2021 you must pay the refundable registration fee by 11:59pm (AEST) 30 April 2021 or your invitation will be voided 

- A separate set of Terms and Conditions for exhibitors will be sent to you 

- Automatic refunds of the registration fee will be made in December 2021 (or earlier by request in writing) for any project that is not going ahead 

- Payment of the submission fee deems that you accept all Terms and Conditions. It is therefore important that you read them in full 

Terms and Conditions

This Call for Submissions does NOT apply to the Head On Photo Awards – Portrait, Landscape or Student Prizes.

Head On Photo Awards will open later this year

Bondi Beach

Major exhibition venue

Selection Process

Head On Photo Festival believes all photo artists need a fair chance to show their work. This is why all exhibition submissions are selected without the artists’ names, so the proposals stand on their merit alone.

- All submissions will be reviewed

- Blind selection will be performed by a selection panel of industry professionals

- The selection panel has access only to the 'submission title', 'submission description' and images

- The selection panel will decide if the exhibition fits into the program

- All applicants will be notified of the panel’s decision by email (please check your junk/spam/trash/clutter folders regularly)


Key questions the selection panel asks:

- Is each image individually strong?

- Is the submission cohesive?

- Is there a new or unique approach to the subject matter?

- Does the photographer show an in-depth understanding of their genre and demonstrate a deep connection with their subject(s)?


Above image credits: Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, Stephen Godfrey
Key dates*
Milestone Date
Submissions open 18 Feb 2021 
Submissions close 14 Mar 2021 
Artists notified 5 - 9 Apr 2021 
Deadline for festival registration fees** 30 Apr 2021
Festival period  6 - 14 Nov 2021

 *May be amended at Head On's discretion

**If you cannot meet this deadline, please contact us to discuss

Selection Panel

Catherine Benz is an art curator based in Sydney. She has over 25 years’ experience working in the contemporary arts sector, holding positions at NAVA, university galleries and Sydney’s former leading photographic gallery, Stills Gallery. Her curatorial projects include survey exhibitions of Australian photographer Trent Parke and New Zealand photographer Laurence Aberhart, amongst many others. She is currently director of Delmar Gallery at Trinity Grammar School.

Catherine Benz
Curator/Director, Delmar Gallery

As one of Australia's most acclaimed photographers, Robyn Stacey has been creating spectacular and sumptuous images since the mid-1980s. Whether breathing new life into historical collections or bringing our gaze to contemporary society, her work invites us to imaginatively journey into the private worlds of other people. Her work is held in notable public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of Western Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, the New South Wales Historic Houses Trust, the City of Sydney, Samstag Museum and Artbank. 

Detail Credit Daniel Boud

Robyn Stacey
Artist and university educator

Judith Nangala Crispin is a poet, editor and photographic artist. Her visual work focuses on Lumachrome glass printing, a technique she has developed from layered alternative analogue methods including sun printing, chemigram and cliché-verre. A collection of her photographic portraits of remote Warlpiri elders were published in her book ‘The Lumen Seed’ by Daylight Books in 2017. 

Judith’s work responds to her Indigenous ancestry and includes themes of displacement, genocide and the loss of connection with nature. In addition to her photography, she has published collections of poetry and academic writings on music. She is currently poetry editor for The Canberra Times and Photography Director for the Kurdiji Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Project. 

Judith Nangal Crispin
Visual artist and poet

Louisa Kirby has extensive experience as a photo editor and visual researcher. She is currently working as a visual researcher for the Sydney Morning Herald.  

Louisa Kirby
Picture editor, Fairfax Media

Michael Jalaru Torres (VIC) is an Indigenous photographer and media professional inspired by the unique landscapes and people of the Kimberley region. His photography draws on his personal history and explores contemporary social and political issues facing Indigenous people. Much of his work involves conceptual and innovative portraiture and abstract landscape photography. 

Michael Jalaru Torres
Professional photographer

Garry Trinh is an artist working in photography, video, painting and works on paper. He makes art about the uncanny, unexpected and spontaneous moments in daily life. He is inspired by his surroundings and from the vast visual output of mass culture. His work is collected by the Art Gallery of NSW and Artbank. He has been exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Blacktown Arts Centre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Stills Gallery, Gallery 4A and many others. 

Garry Trinh
Artist and educator

Liz Ham has been working professionally as a photographer for over twenty years. Straddling the genres of documentary, portraiture and fashion, her work is infused with nostalgia and narrative, often exploring ideas around identity and subculture. In 2017 Ham’s first monograph ‘Punk Girls’ was released internationally by Manuscript Publishing. Liz is currently undertaking a Masters by Research at UTS exploring her lifelong investment in documentary photography. 

Liz Ham
Widely published and collected photographer

Simon Harsent’s career has spanned more than 20 years and three continents. Born in England, his photographic career began in London after he finished studying photography at Watford College. In 1987 Harsent moved to Sydney, Australia where he soon established himself as one of the country’s leading commercial photographers working with the top advertisers in Australia and Asia. 1997 saw Harsent move to New York. However, his connection to Australia and Asia did not stop there. He frequently returns to Australia to shoot and is co-founder of POOL collective, a thriving photographers’ collective. Harsent was listed as one of the most influential people in advertising in Australian Creative’s 2011 Power 20 issue. 

Simon Harsent
Commercial photographer and video director

Alison Stieven-Taylor is an international photography commentator, journalist and educator. Her writing has appeared in publications including The Weekend Australian, World Press Photo Witness, and the French journal The Eye of Photography. She is also the publisher of the widely-read weekly blog Photojournalism Now. Alison has been a juror for numerous international photography festivals and awards including FotoEvidence Book Award, ANZ Photobook Awards, the Walkley Awards, Head On Photo Awards and the Indian Photography Festival. Alison is currently writing her PhD on photography and social change, and is a lecturer in media communications at Monash University (Melbourne).

Alison Stieven-Taylor
Photography commentator, journalist and educator

Anna Maria Antoinette D’Addario photography is dedicated to the expression of social, environmental and humanitarian issues.

Her work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Vogue Italia, Internazionale, The Sydney Morning Herald and more.

She exhibits regularly, and her work is part of various private and public collections, including the National Library of Australia and the State Library of NSW.

An MFA graduate from the University of Sydney, Anna also has worked as an educator in various academic institutions and as photo editor and curator.

She is a member of Women Photograph and a founding member of the Australian collective Lumina.

Anna Maria Antoinette D'Addario
Photographer and founding member, Lumina collective
Sebastian Goldspink
Curator, 2022 Adelaide Biennial at Art Gallery of South Australia

Moshe Rosenzveig OAM is the founder and Creative Director of Head On Photo Festival.

Moshe has over 40 years’ experience in the media as a photojournalist, award-winning television producer/director (SBS TV) and commercial photographer. He has held lecturing positions at the University of Technology (UTS), the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) and others. He has also sat on judging panels for various competitions including The Walkleys, Tokyo Photography Prize, Sydney’s Art & About and is the lead judge for Head On Photo Awards. In 2018, Moshe received an Order of Australia Medal for services to the arts.

Moshe Rosenzveig OAM
Founder and Creative Director, Head On Photo Festival

Frequently Asked Questions

What genres of photography do you accept?

  • • We accept ALL genres of photography

Can I exhibit more than the 10 images submitted?

  • • YES! We ask for your 10 best images to show the panel. If accepted, you will be able to exhibit more images from the same body of work or project

How much does it cost to apply?

  • • $20 (approximately US$15/€12 non-refundable) for each submission 
  • • Applicants may submit more than one proposal

What types of exhibition spaces do you use?

  • • Each year the festival uses a mixture of exhibition spaces. Head On Photo Festival exhibitions appear in Festival hubs, traditional white wall galleries, and popular outdoor installations

Do I need to have a venue booked before I can apply for an exhibition?

  • No, you don’t need a venue at this stage. If your application is successful, there will be more information about the next steps

Wagner Gallery, Paddington.
Image: Rob Johnston

Paddington Reservoir Gardens
Image: Joseph Cuzzocrea

Festival Hub Paddington Town Hall
Image: Stephen Godfrey