OBSCURA Festival of Photography is Malaysia’s premiere photography festival centred around storytelling through photography as a medium. OBSCURA is a platform for photographers to share their stories, messages and ideas with each other and the public. An independent festival now in its 6th year, OBSCURA is committed to fostering a mature, thoughtful and critical photographic community, who will form the catalyst in creating a similarly robust society.


The OBSCURA Festival of Photography kicks off on August 18, 2018 with 4 masterclasses conducted by Leonard Pongo (BEL), Ian Teh (GBR), Wawi Navarroza (PHP) and Maggie Steber (USA).

This year, visitors can look forward to a multi-format exhibition by 20  photographers and a photo book section. It is the largest and most elaborate exhibition in OBSCURA to date. Accompanying the print exhibitions are the projection nights, artist talks and our first roundtable discussions, A collection of photobooks curated by Jordan Madge from the Asia Pacific Photobook Archive will also be available for browsing

Last but not least is the portfolio reviews, which is free of charge and gives an opportunity for photographers to have their works reviewed by some of the most esteemed photographers, editors, and curators in the industry today.

The Location

Since its inception, Penang Island had played host to OBSCURA. Located some 4 hours’ drive (or an hour by flight) north of Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur, Penang island is well known for its gastronomical delights, heritage buildings and diverse culture in the bustling city of George Town. OBSCURA is also part of the George Town Festival, where a number of activities, concerts and shows take place over the course of August. Outside of George Town, visitors can find quaint fishing villages, farms and charming towns where the pace of life is different. A 20-minute ferry ride allows easy access to the mainland. This provides a rich tapestry of photographic opportunities for masterclasses participants and visitors alike to enjoy the sights and sounds of Penang while taking in the spirit of the festival.

This year, the OBSCURA Festival of Photography at the following venues: Hin Bus Depot (main venue). Black Kettle Restaurant, Spaceley and Awesome Canteen. With the exception of Hin Bus Depot, all other festival venues are within 5 minutes’ walk of each other.

This year, OBSCURA Festival falls during the end of the Hungry Ghost Festival. For a month, the gates of the netherworld are unbarred, and offerings are made to appease the spirits of the deceased. At the end of the festival, a great ceremony is held to send off the spirits as they return to the netherworld, sated after a month of feasting and entertainment. The festival is not only significant culturally, but also socially and is a major economic activity and for the people of Penang. The vibrance and rich tradition of the Hungry Ghost Festival also makes it an unmissable photographic opportunity.