FORMAT International Photography Festival was established in 2004.

Today it is one of the UK's leading international contemporary festivals of photography and related media. FORMAT organises a year round programme of international commissions, open calls, residencies, conferences and collaborations in the UK and Internationally. The 2013 festival welcomed over 100,000 visitors from all over the world.

The biennale and off year programmes celebrate the wealth of contemporary photographic practice. We love photography and all its expanded fields. Our programmes feature everything from major conceptual works, participative projects, documentary and all that falls between categorisations, from the mobile phone to the archive. We are concerned with what is happening right here, right now in the scene and beyond, whilst sharing and contributing to it.

FORMAT is the place to engage with an incredible range of new work together alongside some of the best-known practitioners in the world. FORMAT is focused on developing opportunities for audiences to see, debate, develop, contribute and participate in the best of what photography is and can be, with comprehensive professional practice programmes and a yearly International Photography Portfolio Review.

Since its inception each major festival adopts a core theme around which it is curated together with the core structure featuring, but not limited to:

FOCUS: Exhibitions, Commissions, Mass Participation 

EXPOSURE: International Open Call 

FLASH: Events, Talks, Performance

DEVELOPMENT: Master Classes, Portfolio Reviews, Talks 

The biennale edition incorporates over 30 of Derby’s most beautiful buildings and key landmarks including: QUAD, University of Derby, Derby Museum & Art Gallery, Derwent Valley World Heritage Sites, Market Place and satellite venues in nearby cities. 

FORMAT is organised by QUAD and the University of Derby. Supported by Arts Council England, Derby City Council and multiple partners from the UK and international origins. 

FORMAT was founded by Louise Clements and Mike Brown. FORMAT is directed by Louise Clements. The FORMAT17 edition was directed by Monica Allende.




Today we see the strong resurgence of interest in this way of working, due, no doubt, to the fact that everyone now carries an instrument capable of making an image. This simple fact has brought us, through the agency of the internet, a new generation of people from all over the world who are interested in what's going on around them, and for whom the immediacy of the events of their lives can be described and shared with the rest of the world. The FORMAT festival intuitively understood this and has acted on it at the perfect moment, and by doing so will add the voices of the multitudes to the current literature of photography. The rise of festivals like this comes as an answer to the need to communicate across cultures and distance, and the desire to show what ordinary life offers if we open ourselves to looking at the humour, tragedy, joy, effort, grace, disaster, eloquence, harmony, and the rest of the full range of what life provides for us every day.

- Joel Meyerowitz


FORMAT has surpassed itself with the depth and breadth of its 2013 programme, providing an unrivalled platform for leading photographers from around the world to gather, show and discuss their work. FORMAT puts the UK firmly on the radar of the photographic community, a significant event in the international calendar. I am pleased to be patron of such an ambitious and progressive festival, and looking forward to what comes next.

- Brian Griffin 


Understanding the role of photography as an agent for social reflection and expression now is more important than ever. The field of photography is developing so fast perhaps it is too soon to properly reflect. However the democracy of production coupled with the web and the increased familiarity in the reading, consumption and production of photography has enabled society, as individuals and collectively to represent and express themselves in unprecedented ways. Photography can bring awareness to important issues around the world, through images we can try to get closer to the subject. Photo-blogs and news feeds enable us to see, contribute and connect across the world. From citizen journalism to the Facebook family album Photography is undoubtedly the most important media of our time.

- Louise Clements 


FORMAT is a truly ambitious and huge enterprise, an intelligently and coherently curated festival 

– Arts Council England 


Scholarly, stimulating and up to the standards of its international peers

– Francis Hodgson, The Financial Times 


FORMAT is in the Top 40 of international festivals 

– European Survey of Photography


The sixth FORMAT international photography festival makes brilliant use of Derby's disused mills and factories to document working life since the industrial revolution 

– Sean O’Hagen, The Observer 


Attending the portfolio reviews at FORMAT Festival was a great opportunity to meet the reviewers in person. It is invaluable as there is an exchange of ideas and opinions with industry professionals. For me, it was a great opportunity to share my series and talk through my motivations in making the work. In doing so, not only was I chosen for the FORMAT Portfolio Review Award but more importantly I had formed strong working relationships for the future.

– Mahtab Hussain, winner of the FORMAT Portfolio Review award, voted by the reviewers



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