FotoWeekDC’s citywide celebration of all things photographic, running Friday through Nov. 18, celebrates its fifth birthday this year — which is practically forever in photography years. The medium’s landscape has changed significantly in that time: Digital photography has now nearly edged out film entirely for amateurs as well as pros. And the evolving quality of smartphone cameras, along with the rise of apps such as Instagram, has made capturing and sharing the art of daily life easy for everyone (and even a bit addictive).
To Theo Adamstein, the founder of the nonprofit FotoDC, which organizes FotoWeekDC, all of these developments mean the festival is more important than ever. “It’s an exuberant time in photography,” he says. Here are a few of the exhibits we’re excited to zoom in on.
Unless otherwise noted, exhibits at Warner Building, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; Nov. 9-18, $5-$7; Fotoweekdc.org. (Metro Center)
101 Photos for Press Freedom
A show of work by internationally renowned photojournalists — from Reporters Without Borders and the Magnum Photos agency — is among FotoWeekDC’s more cerebral shows. “101 Photos for Press Freedom” began as a book to celebrate RWB’s 25th anniversary (sales account for a third of the organization’s revenue, according to D.C. director Delphine Halgand).
The photos, taken by big names including Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, capture moments from some of the most memorable social and political events of the past century, including the Spanish Civil War, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The most recent image — Paolo Pellegrin’s shot of earthquake aftermath in Haiti — was taken in 2010. It’s an arresting, strangely calm black-and-white image showing a jagged crack down the center of an empty road.
“Every picture will tell you about a very important moment in history,” Halgand says, “but they are all artistically very nice pictures, too.”
FotoWeekDC’s annual regional curated exhibition showcases the work of photographers from D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Washingtonian Bill Crandall is among the 10 featured artists who made it through the selection process.
The five black-and-white photos in Crandall’s “Uncover/Discover” series were all taken in Washington over the past two years, as part of an ongoing project to document whatw he calls “ephemeral” moments from “the real D.C., where people actually live, not the monumental D.C. or the federal city.” Those include photos shot on U Street, in Columbia Heights and in other neighborhoods that have been transitioning in recent years.
“Even though it’s a documentary series, it’s quite personal and a bit abstract,” he says. “Some people have called the photos ‘little dark fairy tales.’ ”
Organized by Alison Zavos, founder of the photography website Feature Shoot, and photography curator Amanda Gorence, “Come Together” is a lighthearted tribute to classic pop music, showcasing works that represent and reference the titles of Beatles songs. The connections are often pretty literal: “Rocky Raccoon,” for instance, pairs a picture of a raccoon with one of a rock.
To assemble the show, Zavos and Gorence called for public submissions and picked works from both emerging and professional photographers.
“It’s meant to be a really fun, accessible show,” Zavos says. “It’s something I feel people across generations can all have fun with.”
New to FotoWeekDC is an Instagram contest, which began accepting public submissions in mid-October via @fotoweekcontest on the photo-sharing app. The winning images, chosen in early November, will be shown at the Warner Building. Adamstein said the contest — which he and other organizers judged — surpassed expectations: Within two days, more than 1,000 photos were submitted.
Joshua Cogan’s “Tomorrow We Disappear” opens at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue on Nov. 14. The photographs document traveling performers and residents of New Delhi’s Kathputli Colony. Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW; opening party 7-9 p.m., free; 202-408-3100. (Gallery Place)
Tied to the “101 Photos for Press Freedom” show, the Corcoran hosts a talk Nov. 14 with Magnum photographers Larry Towell and Peter van Agtmael about the role of independent photojournalism in society. Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St. NW; 7 p.m., $6-$12; 202-639-1700. (Farragut West)
Slideluck Potshow, a New York-based nonprofit, hosts an evening of food and photography at pop-up gallery Malmaison on Sunday. After a potluck dinner, the lights will dim for a slide show of work from 20 photographers. Malmaison, 3401 Water St. NW; 7 p.m., $10; 855-270-3632.