It’s hard to believe the Miami Street Photography Festival began 10 years ago in 2012! Since its first successful edition, the festival has continued to grow and evolve. It is now without a doubt one of the foremost street photography festivals in the world, a sentiment many street photographers I spoke with shared.
This year’s singles winner, Massimiliano Faralli, commented, “I think MSPF is the most important competition in the world for street photographers. All the most important contemporary street photographers have passed through this competition. It is a most coveted goal, so winning the first prize is confirmation that your work has reached an important maturity and awareness.” He encourages other street photographers to submit their work, “not out of competition, but to make one’s work and one’s vision known. Every
photographer must grow and improve their skills, talent is often not enough to compete at certain levels, a competition can help you understand the stages of your journey.”
Street photographer Diane Wehr shared a similar perspective. She attended the festival in 2019 and vowed never to miss one again. It had a huge impact on her. Diane says, “The festival offers unique opportunities to meet some of the best street photographers of our times. They give lectures, show their work and lead workshops and photo walks. They are very accessible. There is also opportunity to see some of the year’s best work in the exhibition of the annual street photography competition winners. It is a game changer for me because it helps me envision a direction to pursue change in my own work. It also motivates me to incrementally improve.”
That’s a huge success for the festival’s founder Juan José Reyes. In a podcast interview we did with him in 2018, Juan mentioned that, besides bringing together the international community of street photographers, one of the goals of the festival was to give festival goers a fantastic educational value. Prominent photographers as guest speakers, workshops, photo slams, and an impressive exhibit of the finalists’ images at HistoryMiami Museum all provide inspiration, camaraderie, and loads of opportunities to learn and improve.
This year’s international series winner, Argus Paul Estabrook, told me, “MSPF is one of the top-tier street photography festivals in the world. It’s internationally recognized for the high quality of work that’s exhibited but also for all the workshops it supports to educate those who love street photography. Ultimately, what I like about MSPF is the community it fosters and supports. Photography is a very solitary medium. Festivals like MSPF allow us to come together, talk and meet—if not in person, then on social media, Instagram, etc.”
He also mentioned that MSPF has influenced him to keep a high standard of work, which is easy to see in his winning series “Fare Adjustment.” Argus says, “For this project, I spent all summer during my downtime figuring out a way to have a series that was both true to myself and open-ended enough that others could add or create their own stories when looking at it.” I think we can all agree the project was a success.
When I asked him if he would recommend others submit their work to the festival, he admitted that it’s really a personal choice and not everyone may be in a situation to apply. Even still, Argus would encourage people to submit if they are “feeling it.” He says, “Photography is meant to be shared. When you get your work into something like MSPF, it’s like suddenly you see who all your neighbors are. I’ve made a lot of friends and connections through festivals. It’s a great feeling to find your community.”
Singles finalist Mark Zilberman has been following the festival since 2015 when he attended for the first time. He signed up for a workshop with Maggie Steber then. He relates, “It was an amazing experience. I was initially terrified of coming to my first workshop, but Maggie put that to rest. She’s a very warm, open-minded, and supportive teacher. The rest of the festival was fantastic. I got a chance to be with people I would never meet otherwise. And I thoroughly enjoyed going around the city shooting with my fellow students.” 2022 was the first year Mark submitted an image, and he was honored to be picked as a finalist. He attended the festival in person again and thoroughly enjoyed it. Mark says, “I think this is the preeminent street photography organization that exists at this time. Street photography and street photographers should appreciate that this organization and its spirit and energy are in existence.”
He continued, “I think over the years, looking at the work that has been selected as either a winner or as finalists has been very instructive and inspiring for me. This year there were 100 finalists. It was an amazing experience to slowly walk along the walls where these 100 images were posted. The quality and creativity of these images was truly impressive. I can’t think of where else I would be able to go see such a large selection of really first-rate street photography. I just don’t know where else you have such a good opportunity to rub shoulders with other street photography fanatics as you do there.”
It’s true. MSPF is an ideal place to meet fantastic people from around the world who share a love for street photography. It’s a home base for photographers during Art Basel Miami each year and a wonderful opportunity to rub elbows with both renowned and amateur street photography enthusiasts alike. Each year MSPF reminds us that street photography isn’t always the solitary endeavor it appears to be. In the name of street photographers everywhere we say thank you to MSPF’s festival organizers for offering up the best in street photography year after year for all of us to admire and learn from.
Now, onto the winners’ and finalists’ images! In case you were wondering, we have divided the finalist images into our own themed galleries to give the magazine a harmonious flow and to help you, street photographer, to see what kind of images are successful at the festival. We’ve done this for several years now, but it should be noted that these galleries weren’t determined by anyone at MSPF, nor the artists. We hope you find inspiration in what you see in this special issue of Street Photography Magazine. And we hope to meet you in person one of these days at the Miami Street Photography Festival.
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