- What: StreetFoto International Street Photography Festival
- Where: San Francisco at the Harvey Milk Photo Center
- When: June 5th-11th, 2017 (Contest Deadline: April 26th, 2017)
We’re coming closer to StreetFoto San Francisco’s 2nd annual international street photography festival. While the big event takes places June 5th-11th, the deadline for entering their contests is only 2 weeks away on April 26th. I was honored to be a finalist last year with the photo below and enjoyed seeing this festival become one of the premier street photography events in the world. In anticipation of this year’s edition, I spoke to photographer and festival organizer, Ken Walton.
I’ve actually had the chance to meet Ken multiple times traveling because he travels quite a bit himself. First in London and then at the Brussels and Miami street photography festivals last year. An awarded photographer in the genre himself, I can guarantee he puts 100% into making the StreetFoto San Francisco festival the best it can be and has a talent for putting it all together. The first year was a big success from everything I’ve heard and seen, but this second year looks to be even better (Bruce Gilden’s involved). So to get ready for the big event, here’s a short interview about the festival with Ken, along with winning photos from last year and links for all the activities coming this year.
StreetFoto San Francisco:
7 Questions with Ken Walton
First off, since you’re the creator and organizer of StreetFoto San Francisco, tell us a little about yourself, including what attracted you to street photography.
I’m a single dad living in San Francisco. I left the video game industry a few years ago, had some time on my hands, and got obsessed with street photography after I watched the Vivian Maier documentary. I’d always had an artistic bent and an eye for design, and I felt like I found the perfect way to express it in photography. I’ve been at it non-stop since then.
Can you tell us the idea behind the festival and how creating an event like this started out?
After I fell in love with street photography I wanted to create something related to it that was bigger than just me. I didn’t want to just keep making and sharing my own photos, I wanted to build something more significant, and I decided a festival was a good way to foster community and contribute to the state of the art. My dream is for it to be come an enduring cultural institution. We’re going into year two, so we have a good start, but a long ways to go.
You’ve traveled and shot photography in a variety of places, what makes San Francisco a unique and special place to shoot in compared to other cities you’ve been?
San Francisco has good light, urban density, and a variety of types of people interacting in many different environments. But a lot of other cities have these things, right? I think what makes this place special is the fact that there are more oddballs here than just about anywhere else. There’s a surprise, or a surprising person, around every corner. A look at Troy Holden’s photos illustrates this well.
Since this will be the festival’s second year, what did you learn from the first one and what improvements/changes are you looking forward to for 2017?
I wish I could say I learned to get started 9 months in advance, but that’s a lesson I should have learned but didn’t. I think the main difference this year is that we have a better idea of how many people are going to participate, which lets us take a few more risks and commit more revenue to the speakers, venues, and exhibits. We have a new home at the Harvey Milk Photo Center and we’ll be doing more offsite shows and pop-up exhibitions.
What special guests and judges will you be featuring this year?
Our most well-known guest and judge this year is Bruce Gilden, and we’ve also got Janet Delaney speaking on Saturday night. We’ll also have a number of members of iN-PUBLiC attending and taking the stage, although that hasn’t all been scheduled yet. Most of our jurors this year are from the iN-PUBLiC collective, including Nick Turpin, David Gibson, Maciej Dakowicz, Graciela Magnoni, Aaron Berger, and Jesse Marlow.
Bruce Gilden is a larger than life name in the street photography world today. What was your reason for going after Bruce and how did that come about?
Bruce’s workshops are legendary, so he’s been at the top of my list since I started the festival. This year we were able to book him by partnering with Magnum Photos. He’s controversial for obvious reasons, but I think it’s good to get people talking, and he’s bound to draw more attention to the festival.
If someone was planning on traveling to this festival, what advice or tips would you give them?
Book early. Hotels here are expensive, so shop around, consider sharing, and remember Airbnb (or a friend’s couch) as options. A good, inexpensive hotel near the festival is Metro Hotel. If you can’t find a room available there for your whole stay, call then, as they may be able to let you switch rooms mid-way through your trip. Also, have Uber and Lyft installed on your phone, as they are good inexpensive alternatives to transit for getting around this city. Renting a car is probably not a good idea unless you’re planning to take long trips outside San Francisco.
Thanks to Ken for the interview and I’m definitely looking forward to this year’s festival. For more info, click the links below, and don’t forget to enter your photos by April 26th, 2017.
Enter Contests (Deadline: April 26th, 2017)