Unique outdoor photography festival is coming to Preston this spring

preston-face-masks- Garry Cook
A new outdoor photography festival is set to bring some of the UK’s best documentary photographers to the streets of Preston.

Lancashire Photography Festival, created by Preston-based photographer Garry Cook, will display brilliant photography projects in the city this spring, with all images able to be viewed in a safe, socially-distanced way from the street.

Photography projects exhibited will also include historical images of Preston and several projects by local Lancashire photographers, who will take part in the festival via a series of free documentary photography workshops.

Moor Park, Preston, Lancashire on Weds, May 27 during UK lockdown - Garry Cook
Moor Park, Preston, Lancashire on Weds, May 27 during UK lockodwn.

The festival has been organised with lockdown conditions in mind, with all images able to be viewed from the street to ensure that the arts and culture can still be experienced in Lancashire at a time when theatres, galleries, and museums are closed.

Organiser Cook, who is still looking for local businesses with window and wall space to host the images, said: “I’ve wanted to hold an outdoor photography festival for a long time but could not get the city council interested in it.

“After a few months of lockdown last year, it was obvious that an outdoor exhibition was the single best way to keep people engaged with the arts and culture in a safe way.

“I was able to bring an exhibition of Cold War Steve’s work to Preston last summer during the lockdown, putting large scale prints of his work in the windows of The Larder on Lancaster Road.

“Thousands of people came to see Cold War Steve’s wonderful work and were able to see it at any time of the day in a totally safe way. The reaction to it was tremendous – people absolutely loved the art.

“That success enabled me to secure funding for this photography festival. It will start off this spring in a small way, an experimental pilot event, but the plan is to make it into a major festival held every year.

“An outdoor festival is such an obvious thing to do in lockdown when all cultural venues are closed, as they have been for most of the past 10 months. This festival will allow people in Preston to experience great art and also create their own images as part of the project which will be displayed in the festival.”

Cook added: “I’m already working with Preston BID, the Harris Museum, and the city council’s cultural department to help make this festival the best it can possibly be. I am looking for any venues with wall or window space that are interested in being part of the festival. If that’s you, please get in touch.

Preston Photo Festival - Garry Cook

“Although lockdown means this pilot festival will be kept small, the aim for future years is to help define Preston as a cultural destination for visitors through the world-class photography projects which will be put on display in the city. I also hope the festival will inspire local people and make them proud that this unique event is taking place in Preston.”

The festival will see images exhibited on walls, hoardings, in shop windows, and on specially built displays. There will also be unique innovative photography displays, including a shop window installation.

The exhibition will follow strict lockdown guidance, with plans for a three-day night-time projection installation already dropped to help avoid large crowd gatherings at specific times.

The free festival workshops are open to anyone, regardless of location or experience, and will cover basic photography skills and how to tell a photo story through a set of images.

On the community engagement program, Cook said: “I’m really excited about the workshops. The response I’ve had already has been phenomenal and scary – as I’m committed to getting as many people involved in the festival and aim to print images by everyone who takes part in the workshops.

preston-buildings- Garry Cook
Garry Cook - documenting Preston shops in Lockdown.

“Lockdown conditions, whatever they may be in February and March, means it will be much harder to tell a story through taking images. But the workshops will tackle this problem with some brilliant ideas on how to tell a photo story, whether that is a story about one person, a story about a group of people, a story of lockdown itself, or by documenting your own life shielding at home.”

Because of lockdown, all the workshops will be held online – with information posted to those who do not have internet access – starting in February.

The workshops are free to attend and the simple application process involved emailing Garry cook at [email protected] with the following information

Contact details (phone and email):
Give a short statement about your photography and why you want to take part (no more than 200 words):

Optional – send up to five images of your photography with this application (please label images with your surname first i.e. cook_001, cook_002 etc).

Full details available at enjoyshow.co.uk

Enjoy The Show can be found on Twitter and Instagram via @EnjoyTheShowUK

Garry Cook is a photographer, writer, and producer. He lectures in photojournalism at the University of Salford. He created the Arts Council-funded performance-based Lancashire Fringe Festival in 2017 and has organised over 100 performance, theatre, and spoken-word events across the country, working mainly in Preston. Follow him at @gazcook

More information available at enjoyshow.co.uk

Email: [email protected] // Website: enjoyshow.co.uk // Phone: 07976 579 522


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