Photo LA 2014 opened last week at the top of its game. Los Angeles Photographic Art Exposition 23rd annual event took place at the Historic LA Mart Building in Downtown Los Angeles. Along with LA Art Show, Downtown LA is rapidly becoming the mecca for LA artists and collectors to gather for quality events celebrating LA’s Visual Art World. This was my first time ever visiting the LA Mart, a beautiful building nestled in underdeveloped parts of DTLA, amongst warehouses and bodegas, an area that will soon experience its fill of street art, fingers crossed.
The opening nights festivities was different from past years, maybe it was the energy of the crowd, the space of the LA Mart, having it held in DTLA for the first time, nevertheless it felt a celebration of photography as an artform (one, that has changed formats and process through a century) It was, in short, what any art opening should be; a mix of celebrities, collectors, art patrons, educators & facilities etc… KCRW’s beloved Jason Bentley’s spun a delicious ear feast, spirits were easily accessible and walking through each gallery wasn’t lost. Programs such as, Emerging Focus, was one of the more recent additions that makes up Photo LA encouraging up and coming photographers by recognizing their talents and providing finalists & winners various awards. Here’s more:
“Finalists from each EMERGING FOCUS [Competition] earn the opportunity to introduce their work and themselves to the top level of galleries, collectors, dealers, curators, and enthusiasts in the industry. In addition, the competition gives photographers the chance to win prizes that have could potentially alter the course of their careers forever. They are invited to attend photo l.a. each January, where an unveiling ceremony will be held for EMERGING FOCUS in the presence of influential members of the Fine Art Photography community. The ICON's Fine Art Department will print each winning photograph, Fine Art Solutions will provide professional framing, and photo l.a. will arrange displays that showcase our finalists' work. During the EMERGING FOCUS Competition Announcement Event on-site at photo l.a., our panel of judges will publicly select our Grand, Second, and Third Place Winners.”
Emerging Focus was not the only highlight of this year’s Photo LA , there was also panel discussions & tours that were not to be missed, such as:
So You've Formed a Collection, What Now? (Panel Discussion)
"Weston Naef (Panel Moderator; Curator Emeritus and Founding Curator, Department of Photographs, J. Paul Getty Museum) along with Stephanie Smith (Curator, Wilson Centre for Photography), Justin Fiset (Artist; Independent Collection Manager), Gawain Weaver (Independent Photo Conservator) explore the question: What is a collection and how does one maintain it?"
Photo Book & Boutique Publishing (Panel Discussion)
"Ron Martinez (Aerbook), Daniel Milnor (Blurb), Parker Davis (Artist; Publisher, Wintergarten LTD), and Rex Weiner (A&I Photographic & Digital Services). Moderated by Nicholas Fahey (Publisher, Victory Projects)
This panel will focus on informing artists how to successfully create and sell books of their work without the help of a traditional publisher.
To Live and Die in L.A. (Panel Discussion)
Los Angeles has been the site of a vast amount of cultural production in film, visual arts, writing, performance, and design, as well as being the subject in much of this work, whether utopian, dystopian, or somewhere in between. The panel will discuss the fertility of Los Angeles as a subject of investigation as well as a physical place for artistic growth, touching on the myths and legends of the city."
Kate Costello (Artist), Julian Hoeber (Artist), Vincent Ramos (Artist). Moderated by Emily Gonzalez (Curatorial Assistant, The Hammer Museum)
Photo Nomad Tours
"Photo Nomad Tours offers a variety of ways to improve your photography skills with the guidance of internationally renowned photographers who have made their homes in these incredible LA neighborhoods. During these unique expeditions you'll learn tips and techniques while exploring picturesque locations. All our photography programs are designed for professionals, advance amateurs of all levels who are interested in improving their skills while exploring Los Angeles."
The City of Angels: A Photo Tour of Historic Downtown with Ted Meyer
"Downtown Los Angeles is like no other city. Join Ted as he explores the history and heart of Downtown Los Angeles with its unique architectural past. Once the entertainment epicenter, Broadway has the largest surviving collection of pre-WWII movie palaces in the United States, where fortunately, we can still enjoy their elegant presence. But it doesn't end there; this unique tour will also examine Grand Central Market, the Bradbury Building, and the beautiful blue art deco Eastern Columbia Building. "
Photo LA provided daily docent tours emphasizing the major importance of the medium of photography, mainly film. With major studios like Paramount announcing it plans to forego the use of film all together and to only shoot in digital formats, the appreciation for facilities like The Icon and Freestyle (sponsors of Photo LA) and the fair itself allows us to maintain one of the most precious mediums of storytelling. Long are the days photographers spent hours sometimes days inside a darkroom (in fact do millennials even know what a darkroom is?) The time, effort and skill that went into developing negatives, printing, mixing chemicals, adjusting enlarger not to mention the expense of going through tests on paper just to get that one print exact! Now with a USB cord and software that is included in your computer purchase, photography is the most accessible global medium. Good or bad at least we do keep the integrity of combining light and composition from anyone’s POV. So let’s celebrate the process, embrace the change and keep on shooting. Till next year.