“The quality of the pictures has increased every year,” said Steven Churchill, show director. “More and more high-caliber photographers are wanting to get their work seen and be a part of this process.”
This year’s show received 14,000 entries from 67 different countries, the largest number of countries it has drawn from. The gallery itself features 111 photos representing 25 countries.
“I like that part of it — there is a really broad spectrum of work,” Churchill said. “It’s truly an international show and at least half of the artists from other countries were there on opening night.”
A unique element of the Art of Photography Show is the judging process. Since it moved downtown in 2006, the show has recruited a museum curator each year to select the best of the entries.
“That has been a really key part of the project,” Churchill said. “It’s an important part of the draw in terms of why photographers want to submit their work — they want to be seen by museum curators and hopefully get some exposure and maybe get their work purchased by a museum.”
The judge for this year’s show is Natasha Egan, who has served as associate director and curator at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography for the past decade. From the 14,000 entries, Egan said she initially narrowed the crop down to 3,500 photos in three 10-hour days, looking at photo after photo after photo.
“In that situation, you really find your gut first,” Egan said. “You look and you say, 'This piece is speaking to me, this one is not,' but you don’t have any time to really look deep into them.”
Egan said her selection process went beyond the surface of each photo. As a result, the photos in the show will have a degree of complexity.
“There were some works that I just said 'no' to right away because they lacked a depth for me; it just seemed to be about the surface,” Egan said. “That I’m not interested in. I’m interested when I can go into a picture.”
The Art of Photography Show has grown significantly since it started in 2005 in La Jolla as a two-week, 55-piece exhibit drawing from 525 entries from 100 local artists. With expansion in mind, the show moved downtown in 2006 and has taken off ever since.
“From the beginning, we designed this to add to the cultural landscape in San Diego — to make something international and really special so that people that live here or are visiting here can have a really wonderful, really high-end photographic exhibit,” Churchill said.
For more information about the Art of Photography Show, visit www.artofphotographyshow.com.