Miami Street Photography Festival Highlights Beauty of Street Photography

Miami Street Photography Festival a showcase for street photography from around the world

Miami Street Photography Festival an adjacent event of Art Basel Miami Beach.

Firstly, South Beach is a photographer’s playground. Secondly, it has incredibly colorful landscapes. Thirdly, it has outstanding and eclectic food and art scenes. Lastly, it has a diverse community as immigrants, tourists and longtime Floridians converge in this dynamic city.

It’s the perfect backdrop for one of the world’s best attended street photography events: the Miami Street Photography Festival.

During Miami’s Art Week each December, just as the city hosts the premier art show Art Basel, the street photography festival invites photographers to showcase their photos of everyday life around the world.

What makes Miami Street Photography Festival special?

Street photography, also sometimes called candid photography, is photography that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places. In addition, it does not need to be taken on a street or even in an urban environment.

Street photographers use their keen sense of observation to capture compelling candid moments in the everyday life of strangers, whether it be a gesture, facial expression, action or scene. As a result, the image speaks an unusual truth.

Photo by Dontan Sanguy - Miami Street Photography Festival
Photographer Dontan Sanguy’s image “boy and snake” won first place in the Miami Street Photography Festival’s Singles contest. [Photo by Dontan Sanguy]

“Their method is often likened to a mirror held up to society…it reflects reality,” the founders of the Miami Street Photography Festival explain. “There is no set-up involved, no manipulation of the scene and very little or no post-processing of the image. This realism has provided an accurate and insightful record of street culture throughout the world.”

In street photography, the desired image is often here one moment and gone the next and it’s up to the photographer to know when it’s right to click.

The festival’s founders call this “the decisive moment.”

“This is the split second when an image becomes complete in its composition—when each element of the image is in balance, in context and essential to the scene. This is when the shutter is released and the moment is captured forever.”

Peter Van Agtmael, one of the photographers featured at the 2018 festival, explained why he’s drawn to street photography, especially capturing images of wars abroad and social issues in the U.S.

“Why is covering conflict and social issues my passion? I think it’s important work to do,” says Van Agtmael.

Miami Street Photography Festival - Nikita Teryoshin
Berlin-based photographer Nikita Teryoshin won the festival’s International Series Contest. [Photos by Nikita Teryoshin]

Celebrating exceptional images of everyday life

Veronica Valle, the festival’s managing director, says street photography is absolutely an artistic expression. Consequently, the art of street photography is exactly what the festival celebrates.

“We do exhibits, photo walks, workshops, portfolio reviews. And it’s all about showcasing the art of street photography of these emerging artists,” Valle says.

Furthermore, as the festival’s site explains, its sole purpose is to “advance the work of photographers who pay attention to everyday life in order to capture the world around them.”

The History Miami Museum has played host to the street photography festival since it first formed five years ago.

Today, the festival receives submissions from photographers all over the world, from novice to professionals. Their images portray everything from the ugly, gritty side of life to more humorous situations.

Multiple contests

The festival features three contests: Singles, International Photo Series, and Miami Photo Series.

The International Series Contest went to Nikita Teryoshin, a photographer based in Berlin. In short, he describes his field of work as photography that covers “street, documentary and everyday horror.” His series of photos illustrates symbols of violence, such as bomb shells on display or fighter pilots in formation, and the faces of the men behind those acts covered.

Marta Cabané-Navarro won the Miami Photo Series, a contest that was added to the festival four years ago to honor artists who captured the essence of Miami. Cabané-Navarro’s photojournalistic series, titled “The Grove,” referring to a Miami neighborhood called Coconut Grove.

Street Photography Magazine writes that Cabané-Navarro’s series is inspired by the book, “Tour,” by Pedro Medina who tracks the cultural, historical and popular elements of Miami. In addition, according to the author, Coconut Grove was once considered to be one of the “most ambitious urban projects” in the U.S. but is now among its poorest neighborhoods.

The festival also puts on what it calls “the best street photography workshops in the world.” They may be right. In addition, the workshops take interested photographers to photogenic destinations like New York City, Milan, Mexico and, of course, Miami. Subsequently, the next planned workshop is March 2-8 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Anyone’s game

Dontan Sanguy, a Los Angeles-based photographer, won the Singles contest at last month’s festival. The winning image shows a little boy eyeing a pet boa constrictor on Venice Beach. To clarify, Sanguy wrote on his Instagram about the honor, “Speechless… This is too much! I saw the 94 other finalist entries and frankly ANY of them could have won. The finalist gallery is truly breathtaking.”

Love street photography? Check out for some inspiration. Or follow the work of the photographers mentioned in this piece at:,, and


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