One Spot, 1000s of Images: photo l.a.

A mondo expo turns its flash on contemporary snapshots and iconic photographers.

When the very first photographers stepped under that mysterious and iconic black cloth, the better to cheat the light and focus on their subject, they couldn't have known that the cloth would one day be gone, and copper plates and daguerreotypes would fast become historical artifacts.

That wasn't all that long ago, which goes to show that photography is both a standing-still medium -- important for getting that perfect picture -- and an art form that's perpetually in fast forward. Both sides of that coin -- or colloidal copper plate, if you want to be snapshot-specific -- will be celebrated, in a deep and knowledgeable fashion, at photo l.a., the International Los Angeles Photographic Art Exposition.

Call it, correctly, one of our image-loving town's most sprawling and serious shutterbug parties. Set to take over LA Mart from Friday, Jan. 17 through Sunday, Jan. 19, the 23rd annual photo l.a. will fete the very best of contemporary photographers and photos so fresh you'll think they still are damp with solution.

So frame-worthy highlights? Douglas Kirkland, an artist famed in large part for his many movie set photos ("The Sound of Music" and "2001: A Space Odyssey" among them), will get a image-filled tribute. "The Fourth Grade Project" from photographer Judy Gelles looks at fourth graders in several countries and what is important to them. And the Classic Photo portion of the weekend'll celebrate lens-wielding icons like Ansel Adams, Weegee, and Diane Arbus.

Looking to buy? Cool. Looking to admire? Great. Looking to perhaps meet a photographer or two, exchange tips with other aspiring tripodists, or just soak up a lot of photo-fantastic goodness, all in one spot? You're on.

Cost for one day is twenty bucks.

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