Thousands of photographers and fans of the art form descended on Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood to attend the first annual New York Photo Festival. The four-day event, which also features an awards competition, brought together artists from all over the world in a celebration of contemporary photography.
It may seem strange that New York has not up until now had its own festival of photography. Perhaps that’s because our city has been a center for the art form since its inception. Just walking down the streets of Manhattan one can find tens of thousands of tourists and natives alike furiously snapping away. Between news giants like the New York Times and publishers and the thousands of art galleries scattered around town there is no lack of photography.
When the MTA announced that it would restrict photography in the subways, New York’s photo community rallied and kicked up such a fuss that the changes were never enacted. So there is a very healthy photography community already in place. So much so that it never occurred to anyone that we needed a festival. But nature–as well as business–abhors a vacuum, so we now have the New York Photo Festival.
And the streets of Brooklyn could have been confused with Times Square for all the photographers walking around, thousands of dollars hanging around their necks. More than an opportunity to drink free beer and network–though there was plenty of that–the festival was an opportunity to recognize and celebrate photography as it is today. Which, considering some of the recent museum shows featuring the medium, is a cause for celebration itself. Seeing the work of many new and, for the most part, largely unrecognized photographers was an opportunity for fans of the medium to take in as much as they could stand.
Several shows–curated by prominent people in the photo world, including the director of photography at the New York Times Magazine–brought together a wide variety of imagery, including a good deal of photojournalism. As photography becomes ever more ubiquitous, from red light cameras snapping our license plates to people taking our photos with cell phone cameras, we periodically need to readjust how we perceive and deal with photographs. This festival was a great opportunity to do just that. The organizers are already looking forward to next year and making it even larger and more inclusive.
For more information and to see some of the winning photographs visit http://www.nyphotofestival.com.