Passing of Frederick Baldwin, co-founder of FotoFest

Spéos was saddened to learn of the passing of Frederick Baldwin on December 15, 2021, at the age of 92. Born in 1929, Fred Baldwin was a photographer, writer and co-founder of FotoFest, a major international photography festival in Houston, Texas. An event will be held in February 2022 at the Menil Collection.

Our thoughts are with his wife and closest collaborator, Wendy Watriss, a photographer and co-founder of FotoFest herself. We also think of his family and friends.

Portrait of Frederick Baldwin © Wendy Watriss


FotoFest is one of the most important photography festivals in the world. Founded in 1983, the festival takes place every two years in Houston, Texas. At FotoFest 1986, the concept of portfolio reviews — bringing together professionals and artists — was born.

FotoFest and Spéos: a long-standing partnership

Spéos crossed path with FotoFest for the first time in 1993 on the occasion of the Montage 93 event (hosted by Nathan Lyon), where Pierre-Yves Mahé organized an image transmission between the United States and France entitled “Take a seat, take a mouse and speak with Paris!”. A major innovation at the time.

During the two following sessions of FotoFest, Spéos created workshops for FotoFest at RICE University.

FotoFest came to France for the first time during Paris Photo from November 15 to 17, 2010. Spéos hosted the festival in its premises and continued to do so until 2013.

> Watch the film of the 2010 edition of FotoFest at Spéos
> Watch the film of the 2011 edition of FotoFest at Spéos
> Watch the film of the 2012 edition of FotoFest in Spéos

FotoFest at the origin of the adventure of the Nicéphore Niépce House

During the Montage 93 event, Frederick Baldwin received the world’s first photograph (normally kept in Austin, Texas, and entitled “Point de vue du Gras”) made by the inventor of photography Nicéphore Niépce. At that time, he thought about the possibility of connecting the Niépce Museum in Châlons-sur-Saône, France, with Houston, where FotoFest was held. The following year, in 1994, Spéos was thus invited to connect the two.

When Pierre-Yves Mahé held the world’s first photo in his hands, he felt the need to discover the very place where it was taken. From this desire was born the adventure of the Maison Nicéphore Niépce, inaugurated in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes in 2002. FotoFest thus is at the origin of this major project!

Spéos, and in particular Pierre-Yves Mahé, would like to warmly thank Frederick Baldwin for his trust, friendship and collaboration.

Read more

> Read the article on the New York Times “Frederick Baldwin, Whose Photography Told Stories, Dies at 92”

FotoFest Chairman Fred Baldwin and Spéos Director Pierre-Yves Mahé were guests of honor at the New Foto Award 2013 (China’s biggest photo competition) held in Changzhou, Jiangsu, China.
They were invited to participate as jury members by Chinese photographer and curator Gao Lei (Spéos Alumni 2002).

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