The PhotoEspaña festival

By Andrea Zagata, Michigan State University/SND

There are more than 200 festivals celebrating photography in France, and most were born with the same goal in mind — to promote photography and photographers, and legitimize their form of art and interpretation. 

PhotoEspaña is of of the more important festivals in the world, says Claude Bussac, festival director, because it recognizes all classes and aspects of photography. It increases public understanding and appreciation of photography as both an art form and a means of visual communication. 

The festival, she says, truly celebrates the work of not only photo journalism, but many different styles and approaches. The festival also promotes artists who are not yet well known, and gives them opportunities to take workshops, show portfolios, and network in the world of photography. 

Bussac says the root of the festival’s success lies in its design — Photo España would not be successful if its organizers did not know how to display an image. Through the use of exhibitions, catalogs, and magazines, the people of Photo España create striking displays that bring the art of photography to the forefront of public awareness. 

The program also reaches across artistic and cultural boundaries, never choosing one style of photography over another. Being open to different styles is important, she says, because it creates an opportunity for everyone to learn from the work of others and see what else is being done in the world. 

PhotoEspaña welcomes submissions from photographers all over the world, and holds smaller-scale festivals in South America, as well as many other places. 

In a time when the art of visual communication is constantly changing, says Bussac, it is important that those doing the work stay in touch with one another and are aware of how all styles and approaches are continuing to evolve.