Lianzhou Foto Festival has undergone 13 years of intensive cultivation of contemporary photography. On this basis, a museum that carries new academic ideals, integrating exhibition, collection, research and education, Lianzhou Museum of Photography occured. It will be the first public research-based photography museum in China. Therefore, the deeper exploration of photography culture and historical mission will be closely linked to the future development of Lianzhou, the city of photography.

The 2017 Lianzhou Foto Festival is based on the theme of "Your Selfie Stick (And You)", which also echoes "My Camera and I" proposed by Mr. Li Xianting in 2008. In the past nine years, the world has undergone tremendous changes, and digital culture has completely changed our visual habits. The camera in the hands of ordinary people has become a mobile phone, and the "selfie stick" can be seen everywhere in public places. "Selfie sitck" is a brand-new photographic accessory belonging to this era. On the surface, it is an extension of our limbs for the convenience of mobile photography, and it is a liberation for people to take photos. With the birth of a new generation of tools such as smart phones and tablets represented by the iPhone and iPad, which have the characteristics of multi-function, high-efficiency and mobile interconnection, the mobile phone can simultaneously take pictures and have the Internet function, which greatly accelerates the production and processing of pictures. At the same time, the emergence of social media and image sharing platforms has allowed people to enter the era of image democratization. Nowadays, photographers choose to sneak into the Internet and try to further extend the boundaries of photography – a more personal perspective, a world of illusion and reality, which allows “I” to be involved in the world at any time. The theme exhibition was co-curated by French and Spanish curator Sandra Maunac, Joanna Lehan, curator of New York International Photography Center, and Chinese contemporary art curator Zhang Bing. Twenty artists from the United States, Britain, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, Japan, Egypt, and China will be exhibited.


Lianzhou Foto Festival was held on the theme of “As Entertaining as Possible”, and was co-curated by a French curator of Niepus Photography Museum, François Cheval, and Wang Chunchen, the director of the Academic Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. They try to take photography as a medium to focus on world problems, the mass production and consumption in this commodity age, and explore the joys of peoples’ excessive consumption after satisfying basic needs. At the same time, they also want to deeply think about a series of following problems, such as vicious competition, regional conflicts, energy crisis, environmental degradation, and hidden dangers of humanity's future destiny.


Senior curator, Christopher Phillips from the New York International Photography Center (ICP),  is the chief curator of the 2015 Lianzhou Foto Festival With the theme of “Expanding Geographies”, he focuses on rapid urbanization development, population movements and immigration tides and following social changes. Phillips selected 22 photographers from around the world to focus on and explore the impact of geographical expansion and the increasingly close interrelationships between different areas of the world, expressing the complicated relationships between different countries in photographers’ unique way of creating, and bring a refreshing experience and awareness to the audience.
British photographer Martin Parr, the current president of Magnum Photo Agency, who is known for his documentary of landscape social in the 1990s, has three roles in this year's show. As a participating artist, Martin Parr brings his six series of works created from the 1990s to the beginning of the 21st century. He also curates the "Chinese Photography Book Fair" with Lu Xiaoben and Wassink Lundgren. In addition, Martin Parr served as a jury of the "China Photographic Book Competition", which is jointly hosted by the Lianzhou Foto Festival and the Gucang Contemporary Photo Gallery.
The annual award of Lianzhou Foto Festival ia officially renamed as “Punctum” photography prize.


We are welcoming the 10th Lianzhou Foto Festival.
The theme of this year's foto festival is “Staging Encounters”. We will present the main event of the 10th anniversary, a grand exhibition about “Ten Years of Chinese Contemporary Photography”. Together we will bring exhibitions of a French master, Jacques Henri Lartigue, who is known as Mozart in the field of photography, the most important master of Germany, August Sander, and a famous photographer in the European photography community, Yann Minggard, who is famous for his photographs about people live in north Europe. If photography is like an encounter, then this encounter contains two meanings: one is to recreate the new realm of photographic art; at the same time, for Lianzhou, this old small city, we created an international foto festival ten years ago. Ten years later, Lianzhou will usher in new photography culture to feed back the city!


By the year of 2013, Lianzhou Foto had already become a strong cultural symbol of Lianzhou. With the goal of furthering the quality and influence of the festival, led by the mayor of Lianzhou, Liu Zehe, the municipal government of Lianzhou had organized a business trip in July visiting Musée Nicéphore Niépce in the city of Chalon-sur-Saône, the origin of modern photography. During the visit, a plan to establish a friendship relation between Lianzhou and Chalon-sur-Saône was discussed. After the visit, the group also toured Les Rencontres d'Arles and La Biennale di Venezia.

In order to better support the ongoing growth of the festival, China Photography Artist Association, an organization under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Culture of China, had agreed to become one of the co-organizers of the festival starting this year.


With "Farewell to Experience" as the theme of Lianzhou Foto 2012, the director of the festival, Ms. Duan Yuting, had also assumed a dual role of standing in as the chief curator of this year. 

With a strong understanding of the problems facing Chinese contemporary photography today, she had urged experienced and new artists alike to stay away from the well beaten path to success, to become an explorer and adventurer rather than a successful follower in their artistic careers. Among the main featured exhibitions, we saw the refreshing new works of experimental artist Wang Ningde, in an attempt to redefine the boundaries of photography, and up-and-coming artist Ren Hang, who sought to explore the extremes of personal identity and the human body. It was also the first time South American photography was collectively featured, along with group exhibitions of artists from Hong Kong and Denmark. Thomas Sauvin, a French artist living in China, won two of the major prizes with his exceptional series "Beijing Silvermine".


"Narrative and Narrative Forms" was the theme of the eighth edition of Lianzhou Foto, with the director of Musée Nicéphore Niépce, François Cheval,serving as the chief curator. The main focus of this year was to explore some of the unorthodox structures and techniques that have been employed in works of contemporary art. Spanish conceptual artist Joan Fontcuberta and Finnish artist Elina Brotherus both exhibited their works for the first time within China.The festival had also asked four Chinese curators, Yang Fudong, Zhuang Hui,Han Lei and Yan Ming to put together four groups of exhibitions with very different perspectives. Other important new works of Chinese artists including Chen Xiaoyun, Jiang Zhi, Ni Weihua, Feng Yan, Li Yuning and Feng Li were also featured.


In 2011, the festival had invited the curator at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, Christopher Phillips, to be the chief curator of the seventh edition of Lianzhou Foto. The theme of the festival was "Towards the Social Landscape", with a strong emphasis on contemporary social landscape photography produced within China as well as in the rest of the world. Some of the main featured exhibitions included American photographer Doug Richard's street photos taken from Google Street View, and works of other Chinese photographers such as Wang Qingsong, Qu Yan, Liu Lihong, Sun Yanchu, Wang Yuanling and Li Jun.


"Is the world real?" This was the question raised by Fei Dawei, the founder of Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and the chief curator of Lianzhou Foto in 2010. Basing off the concept of "parallel universes" in the study of Physics, Fei and the other curators sought to explore the philosophical root of photography. A major photography retrospective of famed French philosopher Jean Baudrillard was one of the key highlights at the festival. Other featured photographers included American photographer Joel-Peter Witkin and Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi. A diverse line-up of established and up-and-coming photographers from within China was also featured, including Weng Yunpeng, Hai Bo, Liu Heung Shing, Birdhead, Chen Zhe, Zhang Xiao, Taca Sui, Luo Mingyi, You Li and Zhang Dali.


"Presence and Reproduction" was the theme of Lianzhou Foto in 2009, cocurated by the founder of Contact Press Images, Robert Pledge, and established scholar Chen Weixing. The hotly debated issue of the year was the gradual decline of photojournalism around the world. Internationally acclaimed war photographer Don McCullin and portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz were two of the main artists featured at the festival. In addition, "Besieged by Waste",a photo series by Chinese photographer Wang Jiuliang documenting the severe pollution brought by hundreds of waste disposal sites near the capital city of Beijing, had attracted significant attention from both local and foreign visitors. Other featured photographers at the festival included well respected photojournalist He Yanguang.


In its fourth year, Lianzhou Foto had welcomed one of its most significant moments as Li Xianting, widely considered as the father of Chinese contemporary art, agreed to assume the role of chief curatorship along with notable photo critic Bao Kun. When Mr. Li discovered that Lianzhou was one of the places that famed Chinese scholar Han Yu (768 – 824 AD) had stayed at,he thought of the literary movement that Han started where he emphasized the importance of substance in literal writings and called for more simplistic and direct uses of the Chinese language. To address the increased concern of superficiality witnessed in some of the works of Chinese contemporary art at that time, Li Xianting advocated the idea of returning to the basic practical issues that were faced by the common Chinese people. This message was conveyed through the theme "My Camera and I".


Some of the most influential exhibitions at the festival included pictures of the Three Gorges by internationally renowned photographer Nadav Kander, as well as works by Chinese photographers Zhang Haier, Li Xiaobin and Zhou Haiying,the son of prominent Chinese scholar Lu Xun. Under the help of Li Xianting,Lianzhou Foto had managed to make yet another strong statement within the Chinese art industry and people started to recognize the power and capability of the medium of photography in the new Internet era.


In 2007, led by chief curator Mr. Gao Shiming, the festival turned its focus to Chinese contemporary photography. Under the theme "The Alchemy of Shadows", works of notable Chinese contemporary artists such as Yang Fudong,Cao Fei, Liu Xiaodong, Zhang Peili, Qiu Anxiong and Yan Ming were featured along with exhibitions of international masters including renowned Japanese photographers Hiroshi Sugimoto, Daido Moriyama and Araki Nobuyoshi.


The Chinese office of the British Council gave high praises for the festival,calling it the most successful and unique photography event in China.


By that time, Lianzhou Foto had already become one of the most important art events in the country that attracted wide enthusiasm from industrial members within and outside China. At the same time, the city of Lianzhou had gained considerable recognition as the origin of the festival.


In 2006, with "Between the Observer and the Observed" as its main theme, the second edition of Lianzhou Foto placed its focus on the origin of photography featuring works by master photographer Arno Rafael Minkkinen and other Chinese photographers including Miao Xiaochun, Wang Jianwei, Wang Ningde, Mo Yi, A Dou and Luo Dan.


Within the same year, the festival was included as one of the major official cultural events by the government of Guangdong.


On the other hand, the city of Lianzhou was crowned the "Chinese City of Photography" by the China Photographers Association. This was the first and only time such a title was awarded by the association.


Barbara Luisi, the director of Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, wrote about Lianzhou Foto as the best international photo festival that she has seen in China.


In the Spring of 2005, Lin Wenzhao, then mayor of the city of Lianzhou, held a meeting with several professionals in the field of photography where they decided that a new international photo festival was to be launched in Lianzhou, with the hope that this would become an important cultural symbol of the city.


A few months later, Ms. Liu Heng, a PhD graduate of architecture from Harvard University, was invited to take charge of the planning and redesign of the festival grounds including the Shoe Factory and the Candy Factory. The direction of the architectural design was that the existing vintage structures of the buildings would be preserved.


On November 20th of the same year, the first Lianzhou Foto was successfully commenced with the theme "Dual Visions: Lianzhou Beginnings". The theme was conceived by Mr. Yang Xiaoyan, the academic chair of the festival, to express the idea that with the city of Lianzhou as the starting point, visitors of the festival would be able to appreciate the historical and current developments of the art of photography as new possibilities of photographic expressions are also discovered. The artistic director,Duan Yuting, and French curator Alain Jullien were among the group of curators who selected and arranged the exhibitions. The Ministry of Culture of France also helped to put together four exhibitions of master photographers including Paul Fusco. Renowned Chinese artists such as Hong Lei, Jiang Zhi, Zheng Guogu, Xu Tan, Wang Gongxin,Zhuang Hui and Cui Youwen were among the participants of the festival. Famed ethnographic photographer Zhuang Xueben was one of the featured presentations at the festival.


The festival also featured a diverse line-up of activities including an academic forum, projection nights, portfolio review sessions, award presentations and media receptions. These activities were well attended by artists and professionals both within and outside the country.


This marked the beginning of the evolution of Lianzhou Foto with the ambition of becoming the most influential and professional photo festival in China.