Belfast Photo Festival this year will present an online and offline programme entitled XX-XY, which symbolises women identifying and non-binary photographers.

From 4 – 30 November 2020 a thematically diverse line up of contemporary Irish photography celebrates the female gaze, reframing the world through the manifold perspectives, styles and subject matters captured by the women behind Ireland’s cameras.

There are six online events and two outdoor installations during the festival.

Here are all the events worth checking out:

1. The Age Of The Female Gaze, Thursday November 3

Image-makers are shattering age-old narratives built on disempowerment and misrepresentation. But will it translate to real change?

The panel will discuss the significance of women owning their own stories; how new generations of female photographers are transforming the medium, and ways we can continue to push for parity at all levels of the industry.

The panel includes Flossie Skelton, journalist, British Journal of Photography; Holly McGlynn, award-winning fashion photographer (Levi’s, Chanel, Playboy, Tiffany) and teacher of fashion photography at Central Saint Martins; and, Nydia Blas, multidisciplinary visual artist.

Age of Female Gaze

2. Landscapes – Challenging Convention, Saturday, November 7

From interventions to new approaches, this discussion explores Irish landscape photography from a fresh female point of view.

Landscape photography continues to be an important feature of Irish photographic practice. This exploration remains prevalent in the work of the island’s female practitioners who force us to rethink its often nostalgic and romantic associations.

In the age of the female gaze, this discussion will bring to the fore some of the risks and challenges of landscape photography when a woman walks alone at night with a camera.

The panel will be Eugenie Shinkle, Reader in Photography (Westminster School of Media Art & Design, London); Jill Quigley, Irish photographic artist; and, Ruby Wallis, Irish photographic artist.

3. Depiction of the Female Figure In Photography, Wednesday, November 11

The male gaze in visual Culture is flipped on its head and the panel will be exploring what it means to be female on both sides of the lens.

The long-standing male gaze in visual Culture is flipped on its head and we will be exploring what it means to be female on both sides of the lens and how this charges the subject and the artist with layers of historical, social and cultural responsibility.

From themes relating to exile, migration and what happens when a female artist looks at a female body, to portrayal of the female in the everyday experiences of inner city life, we will be exploring the depiction of the female figure, from the female perspective.

The panel will be Marie-Louise Muir, Presenter (BBC); Hannah Starkey, Photographic Artist specialising in staged settings; and, Dragana Jurisic, award winning multidisplinary artist working with image, text and video.

4. Creative Commercial, Wednesday, November 18

Operating within the commercial landscape is fraught with challenges. In the face of it all, we discuss maintaining creative control.

The role of a photographer within the commercial landscape is fraught with challenges, and no less for those female creatives working within the industry. This talk led by fifteen-year Photo Editor of British Vogue, Mike Trow, will discuss the future for three female photographers at different stages of their commercial careers.

Explorations will be made into the difficulties experienced by women working in photography, the female perspective, dealing with sexism, being overworked, dealing with criticism, and through it all, maintaining creative control.

The full panel will be confirmed closer to the event, but to date is Mike Trow, Freelance Photography Specialist (ex Photo Editor British Vogue); Linda Brownlee, photographer and director well embedded with the scenes of portraiture and fashion; Ayehsa Ahmad, Up and coming contemporary Irish photographer; and, one more participant to be confirmed.

Creative Commercial

5. Magic of the Everyday, Wednesday, November 25

A discussion that traverses the experience of the seemingly previous in the ordinariness of the repetitive habitual work of home.

Concerned with everyday life, ordinary activities, states of mind and conditions of existence that fill time outside the moments of drama and spectacle, these artists explore the experience of the mundane and seemingly precious.

The discussion will introduce the ordinariness inherent in the repetitive, habitual work of home for many female artists. Yet it will celebrate the cosmic shift of family life and magic found in the everyday.

The panel will be Sean O’Hagan, Writer on Photography (The Guardian / The Observer); Yvette Monahan, Irish photographic artist; and Clare Gallagher, Photographer & Lecturer on Photography (Ulster University).

6. Promoting Your Work, Saturday, November 28

Taking great photographs is sometimes only half the work! Learn ways to promote your work and get your photography out in the world.

This session will cover festivals, competitions, exhibitions, photo-books and using social media.

The panel will be Clare Gallagher, (Photography Lecturer, Ulster University, Belfast, UK); Stella Nantongo (Uganda Press Photo Award, East Africa); Ann McNeill, Director & Curator (Impressions Gallery – Bradford, UK); and, Anna-Kaisa-Rantenbeger, Professor (Academy of Fine Arts – University of the Arts, Helsinki, Finland).

7. Octopolis, November 4-30

Octopolis was born from conversations between artist Rosie O’Reilly and photographer Yvette Monahan and will be a visual illumination at The Big Fish, Donegal Quay from November 4-30, 24/7.

Depiction of the Female Figure

8. Institutions of Home, November 4-30

From Niamh Smith this is part of an ongoing series that conceptualises photography as an act of prayer with a central focus of the work being concerned with Irish histories, the people and places of Irish institutions and their manifestations.

The work reflects on multiple concerns dealing with National Identity, Nationhood and Place-Making. Although the work journeys through lands of trauma, it also is an identification of how wonderfully resilient and strong people can be in the familiarity of the ordinary.

These images are the storytelling of these unheralded moments that co-exist in the everyday. The use of a subdued colour palette in the ordinary, paints with feeling inspiring the emotion, the affection and curiosity within the work. The visual illumination will be at The

Tropical Ravine, Botanic Gardens from November 4-30 from 7:30am to 7pm.

Full details of the events, including how to book for the online discussions are at