Image Credit: Chris Slupski

      the festival

Photival is a not-for-profit documentary photography festival focusing on social, economic and environmental issues from around the globe. Our aim is to show people thought provoking and inspiring photographic work and then give them the tools they need to engage with positive change.

education years (next: 2020)

We host inspiring and engaging photographic talks, panel discussions, workshops and portfolio reviews with the aim of increasing visual literacy and social awareness. Our programmes present the best photographers, photographic educators, commentators, curators and editors in Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as drawing on expertise from a range of other sectors including journalism, NGOs and Technology. Events are charged at an affordable rate with discounts available. All proceeds go back into the festival to ensure its sustainability, enabling Exhibition Years to be free of charge to all.






Exhibition Years (Next: 2019)

We show documentary photography from critically acclaimed photographers, established New Zealand Aotearoa photographers, new amateur and student talent and photographic award winners. To enable positive change some exhibitions we put on are linked with a charity, NGO or activist group that works within the area being showcased by the photographer. We hope that by giving people the information and tools they need to get involved immediately they will not only feel more uplifted after seeing hard hitting work but they will be more likely to get positively engaged. All of the exhibitions are free to view and all exhibitions and events are located in various public, pop up and gallery/museum spaces in Wellington city centre.



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Demi Heath - Director

Demi studied Photography in the UK, working in the photographic publishing industry before moving to New Zealand. She founded Photival in 2016 having seen the opportunity and need for a photography festival in the creative capital. She has successfully directed, curated and managed 2 years of the festival alongside an incredibly talented team. As well as curating the photographers work Demi also works closely with the galleries, guest curators and affiliated social justice partners to ensure the overall cohesion of the festival. Demi directs the festival alongside working at Te Papa where she has been since 2016. She hopes to expand and update the public photographic offerings in New Zealand over the coming years.

Sara Cowdell - event manager


Sara Cowdell studied anthropology and fine art in Wellington before going abroad to work and travel. On return to Aotearoa New Zealand she has been working independently as the curator and director of Performance Art Week Aotearoa and as a practicing artist. Sara has a strong passion for photography as well as environmental and social justice and is excited to be working on Photival 2019!

Lucy Orbell - Publicist

Lucy Orbell has been working in the arts for the past ten years and is a writer and maker of public space works. Working with cultural producers across mediums she supports getting ideas into the world and connecting people through them.


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Hannah Lawrence - designer

Hannah Lawrence is in her final year studying a Bachelor of Design, Majoring in Photography at Massey University. Alongside designing for Photival she is the Social Media Coordinator and Designer for The Peer Tree, an organisation which provides workshops and social groups for young adults with lived experience of mental distress. Hannah’s Photography practice is beginning to form around her collaboration with writers and story-tellers and she hopes to continue and strengthen this as she progresses in her practice as a Photographer. 


Laura Salminen - Event Manager (2018)

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Laura Salminen is originally from Finland but has lived all over the world before settling down in the cool little capital called Wellington six years ago. She studied Events Management in the UK and has since worked on various type of events from music festivals to weddings to international rugby events. As a keen photographer and a self-claimed environmentalist she was very excited to join Photival for their 2018 and 2019 seasons.

With thanks to:

Karen Hermon - Brand Design

All of the incredible volunteers, without whom the festival isn't possible!


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