le journal

Arles: International Photography Festival

Arles: International Photography Festival

Every summer the town of Arles in the south of France hosts an international photography festival. The beautiful Provençal town transforms shop spaces, chapels and heritage sites into exhibitions to showcase up and coming photographers, as well as some of the best in the world. The festival describes Les Rencontres d'Arles as being a "major influence in disseminating the best of world photography and playing the role of a springboard for photographic and contemporary creative talents." This tradition started over 50 years ago and will continue on. People come from all over the world to soak in the baking sun of the Arles and the beauty and perspective of over 40 exhibitions.

Let's take a spin around some of the exhibition spaces and photographers' work. This particular exhibit was a photographic pilgrimage with the Romani people to the Camargue region in Provence in the 1930's, 40's and beyond.  

Wandering through the town, between exhibition spaces, one is captivated entering these spaces and then traversing the streets and passageways of a beautiful (and pedestrian-focused) place. The photography festival is a wonderful way to take in the city in a fashion that is only possible during the summer months...courtyards, squares, even small streets that are normally shut to the public become accessible during this period.

Zofia Kulik's work assembling compound visual structures is featured here in a small chapel in Arles.

Louis Vuitton has a pop-up café and bookshop in Arles during the photography festival. A lovely spot for a cool drink.

Arles' famous Hôtel-Dieu - or the Espace Van Gogh, where Vincent Van Gogh was hospitalized during his time in Arles  - is transformed to exhibit some of the most interesting shows. This year, there is Wim Wenders, a special show on filmmakers and photography and Casa Susanna.

In the main square of the town, one finds photo exhibitions in some of the most historic landmarks. 

This exhibit features the work of Saul Leiter, a visionary photographer-painter in the 20th century. He said of photography: photographs are but "tiny fragments of an unfinished world."

The festival even features live photographers who will take one's portrait there on the spot.

The number of spaces and exhibits is remarkable - a real treat for anyone who enjoys visual expression, not to mention exploring a beautiful town in the south of France.

The show runs from July 3-September 24.

Photography and writing by Emilie Johnson. She can be found on instagram at @emilie_joly_johnson