You often hears talk amongst photographers asking who's going to Visa or Perpignan. This talk refers to Visa Pour L'Image which is an annual festival of photojournalism, which takes place in Perpignan in the south of France.
This year's festival, the 20th, will run from the 30th of August until the 14th of September. During this two week period there will be some 30 exhibitions dotted around the beautiful city; the venues are very interesting in themselves - there is a convent and even a prison.
The professional week runs from the 1st to the 7th of September. This is open to professional photographers, newspaper and agency photographic staff and apart from the above exhibitions it incorporates talks and presentations, evening screenings (on a huge outdoor screen - this is also open to the public), a chance to show projects and portfolios to the agencies present and generally network.
This year will be the fifth time I'll be attending the festival. If you've never been, take a week off and check it out. You'll see some great work exhibited and if you're a professional, getting accreditation will open up a whole lot more. The talks and presentations are given by photographers at the top of their game and its an ideal and unique opportunity to see the world's picture editors all under one roof.
To top this off, the town is beautiful with some great restaurants. The social scene is one of the great things about the festival too. Just check out the Cafe de Post near the Castillet and you'll see photographers and editors drinking and chatting the night away 'till the very early hours.
One tip - book your accommodation now as the town gets packed during the professional week.