FotoWeekDC Captures More International Photography

This weekend marked the start of DC’s largest event for photolovers everywhere: FotoWeekDC. This weeklong festival includes exhibitions from emerging artists through fine art photography and photojournalism. You don’t want to miss it. Plus, more international photography is being displayed this year. It’s a good chance to get your mind blown.

In its fifth year, FotoWeekDC now attracts over 40,000 attendees to its eight different downtown locations. At its central hub, the Warner Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, it hosts 12 exhibitions including photography from the Magnum Photo Agency, Photophilanthropy and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. It also features the FotoWeekDC International Awards Competition Winners.

When created in 2008, FotoWeek was purely local. Now, 44 countries are represented in this year’s line-up. Some District residents have been concerned about the festival’s movement towards international renown.

WeLoveDC talked to the event’s founder Theo Adamstein about this. He explained that some locals are concerned about the festival’s choice to include more international work.

“It doesn’t make sense for a festival like this to remain as a local festival,” Adamstein said. “We’re an international city. Thousands of photographers from around the world are passing through here capturing the city and sharing their work.”

And as D.C. truly is a melting pot for culture (not exactly like New York City or London, but close), artists from around the world should be able to share their expertise within our nation’s capital. Nearly everyone in the city isn’t originally from the area, so why not bring more foreign and national talent?

Moving towards an international photography festival means that local photographers have more competition. Washington City Paper noted that local artists now have to step up into the larger playing field.

“Naturally, it’s [FotoWeek] been dogged by allegations of snubbing local artists. But an early glimpse at some of this year’s photos shows that D.C. photogs have plenty of strong stuff on view this year — they just have to share the spotlight with some seriously stiff out-of-town competition.”

So who wins in this situation? The viewers. Festival attendees have the opportunity to view the year’s greatest work in photography from all over the world. Locals can participate in viewing photography that otherwise, they likely wouldn’t have the chance to see. FotoWeekDC presents work from photographers working in unknown places, in dangerous situations and on sticky subjects. It is almost hard to compare some of the work displayed because the variety of subjects among the exhibits are so poignant. This speaks greatly to the selection of photographs chosen for this year’s festival.

The Diamondback spoke with Margaux Faris, operations and development manager at FotoWeek about the 2012 selection.

This photography taken in Iran 1986 by Jean Guamy can be seen at the 101 Images for Press Freedom exhibit at the Warner.

She explained that the images selected at FotoWeekCentral (the Warner) are “incredibly moving.” This includes the highlighted exhibit by Reporters Without Borders and Magnum Photos Agency called 101 Images for Press Freedom. It features traces of political history around the world from 1936 to 2010.

Personally, I like what The Diamondback said about this year’s selection:

“’If a picture’s worth a thousand words’ is true, then this year’s FotoWeekDC Festival would be worth billions.”

Lucky us. See? You have to check it out.

In addition the exhibits, 10 lecture series were held by the festival this weekend.

Even today, I attended “Eyes of History with the White House News Photographers Association.” Andrew Harnik of the Washington Times and winner of the political news photo of the year and Chip Somodevilla of Getty Images both gave presentations featuring their work from the 2012 campaign trail. You may recognize their photos from the front pages of newspapers all over the country.

Winning photograph by Andrew Harnik of Ron Paul. Photo credit from

Because I attended FotoWeekDC and took the opportunity to go to this lecture, I was able to interact with the photographers who actually spend their lives chasing after this kind of work. Only in D.C. can we, as local art lovers, spend an hour in conversation with the White House press photographers about the ways in which they captured the iconic images of the 2012 presidential election. Events like this are happening throughout the week. Take full advantage of it. There is nothing to lose, only knowledge to gain.

Other events this week include workshops, seminars, portfolio reviews, an Instagram contest and tons of parties. The festival will conclude on Nov. 18.

The Washington Post has a quick how to guide on touring the festival.


One thought on “FotoWeekDC Captures More International Photography

  1. Pingback: Best of European Film Premiering in DC | The Art of Locality

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