Now that most people carry cameras in their pockets and can publish pictures of their cat, their lunch or themselves online with abandon, it is easy to assume we’ve got this photography thing on lock. That is one of the beauties of photography. Everyone in possession of a camera has the power to create.
But fine art photography is not so simple. Like all art forms, it requires technical skill and an engaging aesthetic that pleases, provokes or challenges the viewer. And that is what Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP) sets out to do every October: please, provoke and challenge the public with its monthlong programming of photography exhibits, lectures, screenings, and book fairs throughout the metro area and beyond.
“The photography industry as a whole and all the markets for photography and technology is changing,” said Amy Miller, executive director of ACP. “That has been really interesting, concerning, exciting — all those things wrapped up. But people’s passion for photography hasn’t changed. It’s growing.”
A nonprofit organization established in 1998, ACP was founded by a handful of artists dedicated to increasing visibility and support for photography in Atlanta. The first festival was held in 1999 and featured about 30 events. Since then, it has grown in size and prestige, bringing in distinguished artists such as John Waters, Gregory Crewdson and Bruce Davidson, and hosting up to 140 events a year.
The festival is a sprawling event with many tentacles. ACP presents about 15 to 20 key events, including guest lectures, photo projects and film screenings. In addition, scores of local galleries and photography organizations such as the Southeastern Photographic Society and Sistagraphy, a collective of African-American women artists, host individual exhibits under the umbrella of ACP. While most events occur during October, some have already passed and some take place later, like the Annie Leibovitz lecture on Nov. 29 at the Cobb Energy Centre, timed to the launch of her new book, “Annie Leibovitz at Work.”
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Here are some highlights on tap this year.
The South African artist and activist, who doesn’t identify as male or female and prefers the pronouns “they” or “them,” created a self-portrait every day for a year to explores issues of racial and gender inequality in history and contemporary times. Images from the project are featured in the touring exhibition, “Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness,” on view at Spelman College.
“The work is incredibly powerful. It’s very personal,” said Miller. “Each piece has this kind of heavy, sociopolitical underlay, and there are so many layers to why they’re making a picture that day. Why that hair? Why those objects? Everything has a meaning, and it’s all rolled up into a self-portrait. The beauty about the pictures is, you don’t have to read that. In their own right, they’re just beautiful images.”
Info: Through Dec. 8. Free. Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, 350 Spelman Lane, Atlanta. 404-270-5607, museum.spelman.edu.
Atlanta is one of eight cities to simultaneously exhibit this large-scale, public art show featuring the work of 40 photographers from around the world. Focused on themes of people, places, animals and nature, the 700-foot-long exhibit will be displayed at Piedmont Park through the run of the festival. It will also be exhibited in Santa Fe, N.M.; Denver; Boston; Durham, N.C.; Sarasota, Fla.; Calgary, Alberta; and Brooklyn, where The Fence originated in 2012.
Info: Through Nov. 1. Free. Piedmont Park Dog Park, beneath Park Drive Bridge. 404-875-7275, piedmontpark.org.
An influential street photographer during the ‘60s and ‘70s, Garry Winogrand died at age 56 in 1984, leaving behind thousands of rolls of undeveloped film. He is the subject of a documentary, “Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable,” that screens in conjunction with the festival.
“If you’re a photographer, you know his name,” said Miller. “He was an iconic master street photographer, and he had a really famous book, ‘Women Are Beautiful,’ that put him on the map.”
The director, Sasha Waters Freyer, will introduce the film and participate in a talkback session afterward.
Visitors to the Clermont Lounge — the Atlanta strip club famous for featuring performers of all shapes, sizes and ages — are greeted by a sign that proclaims: “No cameras! No exceptions! No crybabies!” But one photographer was given special permission, Cyril Bailleul, a Paris-based artist who captured images of the women using only the dimly lit club’s ambient light. “Above Where the Women Dance” will be exhibited in the lobby of the newly renovated Hotel Clermont.
Info: Through Oct. 31. Free. Opening reception 6 p.m. Oct. 1. $20. Proceeds benefit Poncey-Highland Neighborhood Association. Hotel Clermont, 789 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. 678-794-2002, hotelclermont.com.
Many of the iconic photographs from movies (think Marilyn Monroe standing over the subway grate in “The Seven Year Itch” or Jack Nicholson’s maniacal mug poking through a busted door in “The Shining”) were shot by unit photographers, whose job it is to photograph pictures on movie sets for promotional purposes, as well as capture behind-the-scene moments of the filmmaking process. Their work is featured in “The Art of Motion Picture Still Photography” at the Westside Cultural Arts Center. Photographs from films including “Driving Miss Daisy,” “The Graduate,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Blade Runner” and “Ed Wood,” among others, will be featured.
Info: Oct. 2-27. Artists’ reception 7 p.m. Oct. 20. Free. Westside Cultural Arts Center, 760 10th St., Atlanta. 404-594-6412, westsideartscenter.com.
Atlanta Celebrates Photography
Monthlong festival of photography exhibits, lectures and events throughout October. Most events are free; some require reservations. Various venues. acpinfo.org.
Embracing the democratic nature of photography, the annual ACP Open Exhibition pinup show invites anyone and everyone to hang one or two unframed, 8½-by-11-inch or smaller photographs on the wall between noon and 4 p.m. Sept. 29 and compete for prizes in three age groups.
“It’s a pretty great way to get your work seen and to stick your toe in exhibiting,” said Miller. “Schools participate, and senior citizens groups. It’s really great, fun and impressive. You’ll be blown away by the work.”
Info: Sept. 30-Oct. 27. Artists’ reception noon Oct. 27. Free. Binders Art Supplies and Frames, Ponce City Market, 650 North Ave., Atlanta. 404-682-6999, bindersart.com.