Photo|Frome, a fast-growing photography festival held in the Somerset town near Bath, is returning this summer for a second year, with a greatly expanded programme.

Photo|Frome is dedicated to showcasing and celebrating all levels of photographic endeavour from local, national, and international photographers, be they amateurs or professionals.

The festival aims to put photography on the map in Frome – which, despite being a relatively small town, has become a creative hub – and the southwest of the UK. The festival was created by Frome-based photographers David Chedgy, Mick Yates, Martin Bax, and Joao Diniz Sanches, and AP is a media partner. Last year’s event saw 6,000 visitors attend events at seven venues, and this year there are 15 spaces, including outdoors.

The theme of this year’s event is ‘Decolonising Environments’, which, according to the organisers, explores the complex and often conflicting relationships between human communities, places, and the natural world. Encompassing a range of styles, subjects and genres, photographers and audiences are invited to contribute to discussions around the social and environmental impacts of long standing political, cultural, and economic ideas about our world.

More details on Photo|Frome

The festival runs from June 24th to July 12th, and offers a very wide range of events. Over three weeks there will be 14 free exhibitions, a two-day symposium, workshops, student awards and portfolio reviews (reviewers will include regular AP contributor, Benedict Brain). There is also an Open Book Award, which anyone is free to enter (see below for more details), along with student-curated exhibitions at Frome Library and 23 Bath Street.

A two day Symposium on the festival’s theme of Decolonising Environments will include speakers Gideon Mendel, Giles Duley, Mohini Chandra, Jenny Matthews, Arteh Odjidja, Joanne Coates and Marc Wilson. Panel discussions will include Dominique Nok, Gobinder Jhitta and Keerthana Kunnath.

Photo|Frome key exhibitors

A very diverse range of photographers will be exhibiting their work at the MPB@Rook Lane venue in the town, sponsored by leading used camera and lens supplier, MPB. Highlights include:

Gideon Mendel, Photo Frome

Image credit: Gideon Mendel

Gideon Mendel
Gideon will exhibit ‘Submerged Portraits’, part of his long standing ‘Drowning World’ project, which focuses on the shared human experience of climate catastrophe that transcends geographical, cultural and economic divides.

Christina Simons, PhotoFrome

Image credit: Christina Simons

Christina Simons
Christina will exhibit ‘Australian Apocalypse,’ which shows the consequences of bushfires which ravaged over 10 million hectares of Australia, killing nearly 30 people and an estimated half a billion animals. Meanwhile, Uncertain Land’ documents how people already internally displaced because of war in newly formed South Sudan also had to flee climate-change flooding.

Leah Gordon, PhotoFrome

Image credit: Leah Gordon

Leah Gordon
Leah’s project, Monument to the Vanquished | Part I | the Commoners, looks at understanding the historic legacy of enclosure and the loss of common land.

Gobinder Jhitta, PhotoFrome

Image credit: Gobinder Jhitta

Gobinder Jhitta
Gobinder’s project is called ‘Xaku’ (spirit of the mother). It examines the special bond that the Colombian societies of the Arhuaco and Kogi share with nature, and their earnestness in protecting it.

Jacqueline Ennis Cole, PhotoFrome

Image credit: Jacqueline Ennis-Cole

Jacqueline Ennis-Cole
Jacqueline shares ‘Beneath Us,’ from a series of woodland walks endeavouring to bring to light the hidden history of onshore oil extraction within the UK.

Jesse Alexander, Photo Frome

Image credit: Jesse Alexander

Jesse Alexander
Jessie exhibits ‘The Digging Season.‘Using topographic photography, still life, drawing and planting, the project examines the intersections of archaeology, ecology and the peat industry on the Somerset Levels.

Keerthana Kunnath, Photo Frome

Image credit: Keerthana Kunnath

Keerthana Kunnath
Keerthena’s photography addresses themes such as sexuality, queer, womanhood, and mental health, all of which are topics that are often overlooked in her homeland of South India and the South Asian community at large.

Arteh Odjidja, PhotoFrome

Image credit: Arteh Odjidja

Arteh Odjidja and UKBFTOG
At the Whittox Gallery in Frome, Arteh is showing ‘Rise for Bayelsa,’ highlighting the campaign to stop oil spillages and other environmental degradation in the Nigerian delta area. Meanwhile, the UKBFTOG community presents ‘Living the Dream.’ This group exhibition celebrates culture, creativity, and womanhood through the lens of Black female photographers.

The Photo|Frome festival will also be premiering the work of Oscar-winning cinematographer Sir Roger Deakins, along with images that document the impact of the Ash Dieback disease, taken by artist-photographer Robert Darch. This exhibition presents collections from the first and most recent photographers commissioned by the Beaford Archive.

Photo|Frome Open Book Call – entries close soon

The Open Book Call is another major highlight of Photo|Frome. This is a free-to-enter exhibition of photobooks, zines and printed publications, and anyone who can show the possibilities and potential of the photobook format is welcome to submit. Entries will be reviewed by a distinguished panel of judges (Tamsin Green, Amak Mahmoodian, Christiane Monarchi, Colin Pantall) and there is a £500 cash award for the strongest submission that connects with the theme of the festival. The deadline for entry is Monday, May 15th.

For more details on all the events, including ticketing, see the festival’s website

Further reading
Complete guide to portrait photography
Best fine-art photography
What is fine-art photography
The success of UKBFTOGs
The best photography exhibitions to see in 2023