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Amateur Photographers Get Thrill Displaying Work

Hundreds of amateurs' photographs line the walls of YourSpace, part of the annual Look3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Va.
Claire O'Neill/NPR
Hundreds of amateurs' photographs line the walls of YourSpace, part of the annual Look3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Va.

Every summer, the historic city of Charlottesville, Va., hosts an annual Woodstock of sorts for photography lovers and practitioners. It's called the Look3 Festival of the Photograph.

One of the most popular exhibits celebrates the achievements of everyday photographers.

Over three summer days, the city showcases some of the most famous names in photography. Their work is projected onto brick storefronts on the town's paved downtown plaza. There are galleries filled with some of the most striking images of the year: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, campaign portraits and rarely seen animals.

There are also pictures that didn't quite make it onto magazine covers — seminude shots in mirrors, the clasped hands of lovers on a train. They're just a few of the images taken by nonprofessionals on display at YourSpace.

It's exactly what it sounds like. People bring in their proudest photographic achievements. The photos are professionally printed for free, then exhibited in a gallery as part of the festival. Hundreds of amateurs' photographs line the walls of YourSpace.

"I would never be able to afford this print on my own," says Holly Olsen, who displays a photo of a desert botanical garden in Phoenix. "This is really neat."

Michael Shares of Canon, the co-sponsor of the festival, says showing work is an integral part of being a photographer.

"It's nice that amateurs can experience as a hobby all ends of it — not just shooting the picture, but shooting the picture, refining the picture and ultimately hanging the picture," Shares says. "Because what we're saying here is that it's not a real picture unless it's hanging in your living room."

At its core, YourSpace captures the spirit of camaraderie that defines the festival of the photograph. And it provides another example of how new technology is shrinking the space between the professional and the amateur.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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