Cool, way cool, über cool, that’s how to describe Key West’s first ever Photography Festival this Feb.8- 11th. Inspired by a festival in Peru that looked like a “cool photo ecosystem,” Quincy Perkins local filmmaker and organizer of Key West Film Festival knew Key West would be a perfect venue. With persistence, Perkins recently won a Canon grant (a second time applying) and immediately set the festival in motion.

“This took six years to get going but we have three national sponsors: Clear Eyes, Magnum Foundation and Lens Pro To Go. Also, we have 42 volunteers and the majority of the events are free,” said Perkins. “Everyone from Pulitzer Prize winners, to locals to people who are walking by can participate.” There will be a special sunset photo contest every night with prizes.

For one weekend Mallory Square will transform into an interactive photography gallery. Four shipping containers will be reconverted into makeshift galleries, each with its own theme and sponsor: 1) World Street photography 2) Magnum Foundation 3) Old Photos of Key West and 4) 15 contest winners’ submitted photos from around the world. Not only will audiences be able to view-for free- incredible photos, there will be lectures, gallery walks around town, coffee talks, parties and lastly, interactive contests.

Some of the highlights not to be missed will be lectures from Pulitzer Prize-winning Photojournalist Patrick Farrell, a ticketed event, Don Kincaid, a National Geographic Photographer, and Key West’s Tom Hambright presenting “A History of Key West Photographers 1880-1970”, a  ticketed event, with actual historical photographs. This will be a local history buff’s dream.

Also it’s a chance to hear from local photographers such as Mark Hedden and Rob O’Neal “I think the idea of a photo festival has been at the edge of a lot of people’s minds,” said Mark Hedden. “A lot of local photographers are in the same boat. It’s not always about sunset shots and weddings. Things like the Literary Seminar and the Friends of the Library lecture series have done a lot to show what a strong connection Key West has to the literary world. I hope the Photography Festival does the same thing for photography. I hope fans the flames of understanding what a deep and moving art it can be.”

For more information and schedule of events go to or Key West Photo Festival on Facebook.

“I’m really looking forward to Patrick Farrell’s talk. There are two types of big time news photographers – the ones who parachute in and push their notion of what their idea of the story is, and the ones who sit back for a minute, waiting for the story to tell them what it is. Pat is the second kind, the better kind. I admire his work to no end.” —Mark Hedden, Photographer


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