The idea gradually came about as festival directors informally met around the world. The friendships that developed over the years made the Festival of Light (FOL) possible.
1994: At a party at the Goethe Institut, during FotoFest, festival directors discussed future collaboration between their organizations.
1996: The dialogue continued at a meeting organized by Finn Thrane in Odense, Denmark in connection with Copenhagen 96 (European Cultural Capital). The next meeting was organized by Patricia Mendoza (Mexico) in the studio of the painter Francesco Toledo in Oaxaca, Mexico after Fotoseptiembre 1996.
1997: Meeting organized by NAFOTO and Marcos Santilli at a ranch 100 km from Sao Paulo after NAFOTO. The next meeting was held in November at a Scottish castle after FotoFeis with additional directors taking part in the meeting.
1998: At the Houston meeting during FotoFest, festival directors received e-mail training at the Rice University Media Lab. Of the 25 festival directors attending only two knew how to use email. A concrete proposal was made for a collaboration between festivals:
• Patricia Mendoza (Mexico) gave a name to this idea: Festival of Light and offered to provide a logo for the group. • Jean-Luc Monterosso (Paris) agreed to donate 1000 Festival of Light guides to each festival.
• FotoFest (Houston) agreed to produce a Website for member festivals by the year 2000 to serve as an organizing tool to combine the other festivals Websites under a FOL umbrella.
• The Paris meeting in November added new festivals from the Canary Is., Spain. Directors signed a letter of support for another festival in France at the request of Jean-Luc Monterosso.
1999: At a March meeting in Rotterdam hosted by FotoBiennale Rotterdam. FOL members approved logo, the maquette for the Festival of Light guide, the mockup for the FOL Website, and agreed on paying start up costs and annual dues for the maintaince of the Website.
2000: Twenty two FOL directors receive digital cameras donated by EPSON America at FOTOFEST
2000 Meeting in Spain hosted by PhotoEspaña: Antonio Vela of FOTONOVIEMBRE (Tenerife, Canary Is., Spain) and Daniel Curtin from CONTACT in Torino attended the directors meeting for the first time.
2002 FOL meets in Montreal. (left>right) Directors from Xalapa, Mexico; Odense, Denmark; Toronto and Montreal, Canada; Guadalajara, Mexico; Barcelona, Spain; Caracas, Venezuela, and staffer from Montreal.
2003-04: meetings focused on the Festival of Light Website which was turned over to Elda Harrington (Argentina). The cost was absorbed by Leica Camera in 2004.
2005: At a September meeting in Montreal. Florence Maille proposed dedicating the second Night of the Year to the different members of FOL. Night of the Year is a successful new activity developed by Arles Festival in which the city of Arles becomes the scenario of a multi-projection project..
2005 and 2006, new festivals presented: Noorderlicht Photofestival; Festival in Canberra, Australia.
2007, FOL meeting Lodz, Poland. As of August 2007, 32 festivals from 21 countries are listed as members of the Festival of Light.
Brasilia, October 2007
2008: Meeting in FotoFest, Houston
Fototriennale, Odense, Denmark, 2009
Since 2009, the FOL member Meeting is held in Paris during Paris Photo, because most of the Festival directors are there to visit this Fair, and other photography-related events.
Paris, Speos Institute, 2010
2010 – November meeting during Paris Photo at Spéos Institute-Paris. Photo by: Pierre-Yves Mahé
2011 meeting in Paris during Paris Photo. The meeting took place in the halls of Spéos-Paris Photographic Institute. Photo by: Pierre-Yves Mahé
2012: Meeting in Paris at Spéos Institute-Paris. Photo by: Pierre-Yves Mahé
November 2013 Speos Institute, Paris
From the far end of the table and clockwise: Fred Baldwin, FotoFest (Houston, USA); Jen Friis, Foto Triennale ( Odense, Denmark), Heidi Romano, Ballarat International Foto Bienalle (Ballarat, Australia); Sujong Dong and Jaho Koo, Daegu Photo Biennale (Daegu, Korea); Mark Sink, The month of photography Denver (Denver, USA); Vangelis Ioakimidis, PhotoBiennale Greece (Thessaloniki, Grecee); Hélène Joye-Cagnard, Journées photographiques de Bienne (Bienne, Switzerland), Mr and Mrs. Mindaugas Kavaliauskas , Kaunas Photo (Kaunas, Lithuania); Silvia Mangialardi and Marta Boehm, Encuentros Abiertos – Festival de la Luz (Buenos Aires, Argentina); Amy Miller, Atlanta Celebrates Photography (Atlanta, USA); Krzysztof Candrowicz, Fotofestiwal (Lodz, Polonia); Tuula Alajoki, Backlight Photo Festival (Tampere, Finlandia); Natasha Tarasova and Evgeny Berezner, PhotoVisa (Krasnodar, Russia); Christophe Laloi, Voies Off (Arles, France), Laura Boury, Voies Off.
Credit Pierre-Yves Mahé / Spéos Institute, Paris.
Organization of meeting and maintenance of FOL website passed from Encuentros Abiertos, Buenos Aires, Argentina to Atlanta Celebrates Photography, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.
2015 FOL meeting occurred the morning after the Paris bombing attacks. Four festivals were in attendance. It felt good to do something normal and connect with colleagues, although everyone had a heavy heart.
There is great camaraderie among the festivals at the annual meeting, although the economic situation for many government-funded festivals has been in steep decline and members often did not have the economic means to travel to Paris for the annual meeting.
During the pandemic year, FOL members were very pleased to meet virtually (via Zoom). Attendance was greater than in the previous four years. Festivals strengthened their bond to help each other with marketing, sharing artists and portfolio reviews.
2021 A new FOL website launched.