A day in the life

Philadelphia Photo Arts Center will present photos from its third annual Philly Photo Day on Dec. 6.

What seemed to some like a normal Friday in Philadelphia will soon become a work of art.

Oct. 26 was Philly Photo Day 2012, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center’s third installment of its project showing life in the city through images from everyday people.

The nonprofit organization, located at 1400 N. American St. in Old Kensington, gathered images submitted by Philadelphia residents for display in the city-wide project.

The only requirements were that photos had to be taken within city limits and on the date of Oct. 26. The project serves as a portrait of the city, drawn through the people who live in it.

“It’s unique to Philadelphia because it’s from Philadelphia,” said the organization’s assistant director, Christopher Gianunzio.

Photo Day was a massive success this year with the Photo Arts Center receiving nearly 2,000 submissions. Gianunzio said the project has “grown exponentially” since its inception three years ago. Participants sent photos electronically to the Photo Arts Center’s website and tweeted photos using #phillyphotoday.

“It’s basically a way for us to engage with the city as a whole, through photography,” Gianunzio said.

The arts center will feature every photograph received, creating an “open-ended” exhibit for viewers and resident’s to enjoy. The main exhibit will be at the arts center facility, and opens with a free reception Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. The exhibit will be showcased in the center for three months.

One thing that distinguishes this year’s project from previous exhibits is that, for the first time, the project will become mobilized. Specific works from the collection will be featured on 40 billboards citywide, and even on SEPTA buses across the city.

Philadelphia Photo Arts Center opened approximately three years ago, just before the first Philly Photo Day. It is a member-based organization that along with curating events and exhibitions, offers local photographers a wide range of services.

These services include a number of classes, workshops and available lab time with some of the center’s state-of-the art equipment.

The organization was created by executive director Sarah Stolfa, along with founding board members Tom Callan, Martin McNamara, Mary Brown and Stuart Rome. Their mission was to “provide essential resources for the construction of a vibrant and influential contemporary photography community that would keep artists living and working in Philadelphia.”

The organization is funded through memberships, donations, grants, events and fees for lab resources at the center.

Part of the Philly Photo Day project was funded by a Knight Foundation Challenge Grant given to the organization. The organization also surpassed its goal of $5,000 through a Kickstarter campaign for the project. Gianunzio praised the support given to the organization by the local community.

The center aims to communicate and connect with the Philadelphia community through art with this project.

“It’s a way to maintain an open dialogue with the larger community through photography,” Gianunzio said.

Along with Philly Photo Day, the arts center will hold lectures featuring prominent photographers and exhibits like “99 Days,” a group exhibition showcasing the works of Stefan Abrams, Gabriel Angemi, Andrew Fillmore, Thilde Jenson, Jay Muhlin and Brian Ulrich. The exhibit also opens on Dec. 6, and will run through Feb. 23.

As Philly Photo Day gains momentum with each year, it looks like this project is here to stay.

“I don’t see it stopping anytime soon,” Gianunzio said.

For more information on Philly Photo Arts Center or Philly Photo Day, visit philaphotoarts.org.

Kyle Noone can be reached at kyle.noone@temple.edu.

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