Rinko Kawauchi captures the sky above Brighton, from the series Murmuration. Courtesy of Rinko Kawauchi and Foil Gallery, Tokyo

The Brighton Photo Biennial, now in its fourth edition, has not impacted on the public imagination the way certain literary and art festivals have. This may have something to do with how British attitudes to photography remain, in the main, conservative, and with the lack of funding. No doubt the two are linked.

If anyone can rebrand the Brighton Photo Biennial as a serious contender, though, Martin Parr can. Back in 2004, he was invited by the organisers of the annual Rencontres D’Arles to be guest curator. That year’s Arles festival, in its range and ambition, remains the standard by which all subsequent Rencontres have been judged. Back then, Parr indulged his love for vernacular and found photography, and his passion for new, often eccentric, talent as well as great photographers he felt had been overlooked.


Sean O’Hagan