The World's Camera Focuses on LA

photo l.a., one of the calendar's major pic-taculars, opens in Santa Monica.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Thursday, Jan 17, 2013  |  Updated 11:37 AM PDT
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The World's Camera Focuses on LA

Phil Stern

photo l.a. serves up classic images, like this one of James Dean by photographer Phil Stern, as well as brand-new snapshots from leading artists. It's at Santa Monica Civic from Thursday, Jan. 17 through Monday, Jan. 21.

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You might have heard that Southern California is home to one or two or 50 or 80 fine photography galleries. Auctions and exhibits and photographer-led seminars are par for the image-rich course 'round our little neck of the ocean-adjacent woods.

So when a photography exhibition that is billed as "one of the most dynamic and energized art fairs in the world" opens, an exhbition that's been around for over two decades, you know that the organizers and all of those involved will bring it, above and beyond. That's the rep behind photo l.a. -- that's all lowercase, don't you know -- and that's the spirit with which it enters its 22nd outing.

The 22nd Annual International Los Angeles Photographic Art Exposition unfurls at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium from Thursday, Jan. 17 through Monday, Jan. 21.

Casual fan, what's that? You're asking how you should approach something this major? It's easy and one certainly shouldn't be daunted. While there certainly will be a number of bigwigs in the fields of photo art milling about and buying and discussing and leading tours and signing books, there will be plenty to see for the person who just wants to show up and look, no strings attached.

Well, no strings beyond the $25 get-in-the-door fee (it's a bit less when bought online).

Our favorite bit of this mondo event? The gamut. You get some famous people in some of the pictures -- see James Dean, above -- and you get a mix of modern mixed media and au courant snapshots that speak to our Instagram age. It's high-brow and now-brow and a little bit of everything that can't wedge into those two categories.

Tempted, photo fan? You should be. This is the biggie of the year.

image: James Dean by Phil Stern, 1955

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