Helsinki Photo Festival 7.7.-30.9.2021


Helsinki Photo Festival fourth edition opens July 7 for the public

Helsinki Photo Festival is a visual arts event focused on photography opening for the public July 7 and ends September 30. The fourth edition on the theme Fearless to be exhibited in the whole metropolitan area. The event is held annually and brings a new art experience to Greater Helsinki. In a period of 12 weeks curated photography exhibitions can be discovered 24/7 in public spaces and at cultural institutions. The festival will present the works of 62 artists from 30 countries with new works which have not been shown before in Finland.

Every year the festival selects +50 open call winners from different genres. The contest is judged by a jury of leading experts in photography and education. In 2021, the festival received 428 submissions with 5307 images from 55 countries of which the international jury selected 50 international open call winners and ten Nordic emerging talents.

In Helsinki, prime outdoor exhibitions are in the garden area of the iconic Finlandia Hall (accessible from Mannerheimintie), the classic open air swimming stadium Uimastadion, Ebeneser Kindergarten Museum in Sörnainen and in the Cultural Centre Stoa in Itäkeskus. On the border of Helsinki and Espoo worth mentioning is a Nordic photo exhibition taking place at Hanaholmen Art Park.

The festival program includes various exhibitions and pedagogical events throughout a period of twelve weeks, inviting photo enthusiasts of all ages from any gender, race or class. Since its founding in 2018, the festival has welcomed more than one million spectators. The edition of 2021 can be experienced mostly outdoors, with due regard to current covid safety precautions. Most exhibitions are accessible free of charge.

“Every year Helphoto aims to reflect on topics that have the power to inspire, provoke and have the potential to create a debate on societal movements and everything that surrounds us and matters to us”, states Artistic Director Rafael Rybczynski.

“We, at the Helsinki Photo Festival association, aim to make Helsinki the new photo capital of the North! We are very proud of this third edition of our annual festival to have strong and sovereign partners, international experts and supporters helping us to accelerate this vision and to enrich the visual culture scene in Finland,” says artistic director Rafael Rybczynski.

Contemporary photography meets the city

At least nine outdoor exhibitions, opening on different dates between July and September, will be located throughout the metropolitan area of Helsinki. 

From July 7 onwards, an outdoor exhibition in the Finlandia Hall’s garden area will display international artists. Portfolio Reviews will be organized with international and domestic experts on September 3. The event is open to photographers of all levels to showcase their work and to get professional feedback. The first prize winner of the Portfolio Review will be exhibited solo at Helsinki Photo Festival 2022. 

One of Helsinki Photo Festivals’s special highlights of 2021, is a unique photo exhibition at the Helsinki Uimastadion. During its opening hours, the outdoor swimming pool will present the works of international award-winning visual artists. 

Hanaholmen – Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre will host the Nordic Village, a talent platform fostered by Helsinki Photo Festival to support emerging Nordic artists to present their works to a broad audience. A Nordic photo exhibition will take place outdoors at Hanaholmen’s Art Park presenting a group exposé of 15 Nordic photographers and a solo exhibition. A seminar with focus on Nordic photography with distinguished visual artists, curators, photography teachers, authors and editors will be organised on August 27. Nordic experts include Hannu Vanhanen (Backlight Photo Festival), Kristyna Müller (CFF – Centrum för fotografi), Pål Otnes (Forlaget Fotografi), Sigrún Alba Sigurðardóttir (Iceland University of Arts) and Fryd Frydendahl (Fatamorgana Photo School) and many more. The Nordic Village is supported by all Nordic embassies and the Nordic Culture Fund.

An exhibition with various works of +30 international artists from the festival’s annual open call finalists will be presented at Vantaa Art Museum Artsi and on a +50m long exhibition on a wall fence provided by construction companies Hartela and Fira from August 4-September 30. On August 26, a free of charge guided tour will be arranged as part of the Taiteiden Yö (Night of Arts).

Distinctive exhibitions all over Greater Helsinki

Every single exhibition of Helsinki Photo Festival is unique as of the contents and individually tailored to the respective venues. A map with all exhibition sites will be provided on the festival’s website. For the first time, the festival will offer its visitors a tri-lingual experience to learn about all the exhibited works in English, Finnish and Swedish. 

The festival’s pop-up gallery Galleria Futura will invite photo enthusiasts and collectors to explore unseen and censored works of open call finalists in Kasarmikatu 46-48 as a part of Kasarmitori’s summer side events from July 15-August 30.

The solo exhibition of the emerging Finnish talent Svante Gullichsen will showcase a set of his new works in the Nordic Village at Hanaholmen. The second solo exhibition of Helsinki Photo Festival’s forthcoming 2021 edition will be dedicated to the winner of the festival’s first portfolio reviews in 2020 David Barreiro, a Spanish documentary photographer. His project “A Breach of Margins”, sponsored by the Embassy of Spain in Finland, can be experienced in the garden area of the Finlandia Hall.

The cultural centre Stoa in East Helsinki will host two photo exhibitions from July 7-August 30. Outdoors at the Stoa art wall square spectators will be able to explore works of 50 open call finalists and the other exhibition will present 15 selected works at the Balcony Gallery. From July 12-September 30, ten international photographers will be set up with multi large prints at Keran Hallit in Espoo. In collaboration with the City of Kauniainen, Helsinki Photo Festival will set up a four weeks photo exhibition from August 16-September 20 with the best image from each open call finalist of the Fearless theme.

For more details read our complete press release here:

Inauguration / Opening Helsinki Photo Festival 2021 EN/FI/SE: 


Press release – Helsinki Photo Festival 2021 EN:
Lehdistötiedote – Helsinki Photo Festival 2021 FI:
Pressmeddelande – Helsinki Photo Festival 2021 SE:  

Info on collaboration with Ebeneser Foundation – The Kindergarten Museum FI/EN: