Interview with Maxine Watts, Founder and Artistic Director of Reclaim Photography Festival West Midlands


With the first Instameet of 2017 fast approaching, we found out more about the Instameet’s partner Reclaim Photography Festival, including how individual IGers can participate, how the Festival is raising money for charity and further opportunities for photographers.


IGersBirmingham: Hi Maxine, tell us about Reclaim Photography?


Maxine: The concept of Reclaim Photography began in Sweden during 2011 through a group of photographers who wanted to inspire people and take art photography back to the streets and public spaces. Reclaim Photography West Midlands and Festival was founded in the UK in 2015 following conversations with our Sweden members, and subsequently led to our first international artistic project.  Reclaim Photography Festival aims to provide the public with a unique opportunity to view the very best in art photography, and to raise funds for regional charities.


IGersBirmingham: What is involved in the Festival?


Maxine: The Festival will take place across a range of venues and galleries in Birmingham, Dudley and Wolverhampton, from 6 May to 7 June 2017.


The Festival will offer the public and emerging artists the opportunity to showcase their creativity and to exhibit their work, alongside our internationally exhibiting photographers. Through the generosity of Palm Labs, Birmingham, we are able to offer an online submission and will print 600 images to accompany our digital displays, and range of events for the viewing public.


To accompany the street events a travelling gallery exhibition, hosted by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Wolverhampton Art Gallery, will offer the public a unique opportunity to see a selection of photographs by regional, UK and international photographers.


IGersBirmingham: How can members of the IGersBirmingham community get involved?



The Festival will offer the public the opportunity to submit to a unique Festival theme reflecting the wonderful cultural diversity and heritage across the region and internationally. We are hoping to attract up to a maximum of 1000 images. The deadline for submissions is 5pm (UK time) Friday 27 January 2017. Please visit to find out more and to submit online.




Cultural landscapes are an important part of our past, present and future. They help to provide us with a deeper understanding of the world. Therefore, the images that form this year’s Festival represent landscapes which have been influenced or shaped by human involvement, whether through cultural events or by individual personalities. In reclaiming our understanding of our cultural landscapes, these images explore our sense of self, our evolving relationship with our communities, and the continuity of our communal heritage. Therefore, all styles of photography are encouraged for submission including urban, coastal and rural landscapes, portraiture, street and social documentary photography, photo-journalism, still life and experimental photography.


IGersBirmingham: The Instameet will be a great opportunity to capture images for the Festival won’t it?


Maxine: As part of the Festival we are pleased to invite the Birmingham Igers Community to participate in a special Instameet, in celebration of our Festival themeThis unique Instameet hopes to capture the heart and soul of Birmingham and encourage photographers of all abilities to submit to our open call for submissions, which is free of cost or competition.


IGersBirmingham: Who else is involved in the Festival?


Maxine: We are honoured to announce that this year’s Festival Adjudicator is British artist Richard Billingham, whose work in public collections includes the V&A and Tate Galleries in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and San Francisco MOMA. Richard will work with our Festival curators and jury to select thirty images for the travelling gallery exhibition and offer professional awards for some of our gallery participants.


IGersBirmingham: The Festival also has a great opportunity for a young photographer too, doesn’t it?


Maxine: Yes indeed. For the first time, we were able to offer a range of exciting work experience opportunities for young people ages 16-25. We hope to expand this further soon. In addition, we will be offering a range of professional awards for some of our gallery exhibitors of all ages. These include a solo exhibition at Argentea Gallery, Birmingham’s newest contemporary photography gallery; an opportunity to spend the day at the studio of celebrated British portrait and fashion photographer Rankin, exclusively for a photographer aged between 18-25; a year’s membership with the prestigious Royal Photographic Society, and work experience on a photographic shoot, during 2017 with Multistory. Awards for all our travelling gallery exhibitors includes: exhibition alongside internationally renowned photographers; inclusion in exhibition marketing and promotion campaign; exhibition exposure in two main city galleries, and inclusion in BLUR Magazine.



IGersBirmingam: Where will the images be displayed?

Maxine: The one day event will take place on Saturday 6 May 2017 from 10am to 3pm in the following locations:

  • Birmingham:

o    Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (digital format),

o    Millennium Point (digital, print and projected image format);

  • Dudley:

o    Black Country Living Museum (print format),

o    Dudley Archive Centre (digital format),

o    Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust (print format);

  • Wolverhampton:

o    Light House Media Centre (print format),

o    Mander Centre (print format),

o    Wolverhampton City Archives (digital format).


The Travelling Gallery Exhibition will first visit Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from the 6 – 21 May 2017 (opening hours Mon-Thurs and Sat-Sun 10am-5pm and Fri 10:30am-5pm). It will then travel to Wolverhampton Art Gallery from the 23 May – 7 June 2017 (opening hours: Mon-Sat 10:30am-4:30pm and Sun 11-3:30pm).


IGersBirmingham: Are there any other events too?


Maxine: We will be hosting workshops and events at some of our venues. Check our website and social media for details over the coming months. Prints from both the public events and travelling gallery exhibition will be auctioned by Will Farmer of Fieldings Auctioneers, to raise funds for regional charity St Basils, who work with young people aged 16-25, to prevent youth homelessness.


The auction will offer the public and photography collectors the opportunity to bid on blind lots and framed prints, while promoting our photographers and our emerging artists; our great photographers of the future. They will be able to bid online in advance of the auction. Tickets will also be available via Eventbrite for the live auction, to be announced in April.


In the meantime, please follow us on social media and keep checking our Festival web page for further announcements. Facebook Twitter Instagram #reclaimphotographyfestival


IGersBirmingham: That sounds great! We look forward to getting involved and we’re sure there will lots of great submissions from members of the IGersBirmingham community.

Thank you very much; we are looking forward to meeting everyone at the Instameet and good luck to all the participants