The world’s longest-running photography exhibition is a great opportunity to see some of today’s best photographers, says Amy Davies

The 162nd edition of the Royal Photographic Society’s International Photography Exhibition – the world’s longest-running photography exhibition – kicked off at the RPS Headquarters in Bristol in mid-February.

There’s still some time left to see it at RPS House, after which it will then embark on a nationwide tour for the remainder of the year.

Forty-three different photographers have been selected to appear in the exhibition, which come from the annual competition run by the RPS. Each year, an open call is made to photographers and image-makers of all ages. It has been held almost every year since 1854, the year after the RPS was founded.

RPS Give Jesus a try Alan Gignoux

‘Give Jesus a try’ by Alan Gignoux. Credit: Alan Gignoux

In the early years, the exhibition included work from some of the world’s most eminent photographers including Julia Margaret Cameron, Roger Fenton, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand. It’s therefore always a fantastic opportunity to see work from current photographers who one day might be held in the same kind of regard.

Autumn 2020 will see the next open call for IPE 163, so a visit to the show might also give you some inspiration to submit your own photographs and projects for consideration.

The overall winner this year is the American photographer Cody Cobb, for images from his series Strange Land. The images in this series were made during periods of extended solitude, during which Cobb immerses himself in the American West for weeks at a time, stripped of basic human comforts and isolated within unfamiliar terrain.

RPS Lithium Mining Catherine Hyland

From Catherine Hyland’s series – lithium mining in the Atacama Desert. Credit: Catherine Hyland

Speaking of his win, Cobb said, ‘The support of the RPS has encouraged me to continue pushing myself and my work in ways that weren’t possible before. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to share my interpretation of what it means to be human on this strange and fantastic planet.’

Meanwhile, the under-30s award winner Chirag Jindal, from New Zealand, won for his series Into the Underworld – Ngã Mahi Rarowhenua, which reveals a network of lava caves hidden beneath Auckland.

A series of talks and workshops from exhibiting photographers will be bookable throughout the tour. Visit rps.org/ipe162 for more information.


The exhibition is at RPS House, Bristol, until 22 March 2020, then Royal Albert Hall 2 April–27 April, Beverley Art Gallery 13 June–12 September and Oriel Art Gallery, Theatr Clwyd, 28 November–16 January 2021. Opening times vary, visit rps.org for full details.