The Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival returns to in-person events

The 24th annual Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival is back in-person, after last year’s hybrid schedule. This year, the exhibitions, public art, and artists talks are taking place all around the city, highlighting both emerging and well-established photographers.

ACP executive director Stephanie Dowda DeMer and photographer Jess T. Dugan joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk more about the festival events.

Interview highlights follow below.

A festival celebrating artfully captured images both still and moving:

“This year we wanted to celebrate all the parts of Atlanta, as well as make sure that we’re highlighting connectivity. So touchpoints, moments of physical connection,” said DeMer. “This year our ACP festival guide is printed as a broadsheet, so it looks exactly like a newspaper. We have pickup sites all around the city, including Athens and as far away as Zebulon, Georgia, and working with Jess T. Dugan on our large public art project this year allows for us to think about connectivity through the lens of their work and their project.”

“This year we’re working with local artist Mika Fengler to produce a viewable video art installation, actually, at our Grant Park office and the Beacon. This will be launching on Oct. 13, and so what’s great is we have this really beautiful glass garage door that Mika will be producing,  installing a video artwork specific to our space that’ll be viewable from the outside after dusk,” said DeMer.

Portrait photography by Jess T. Dugan showcasing LGBTQ subjects:

“I’ve always been very interested in working within LGBTQ communities. I identify as both queer and non-binary, and I have for a very long time,” said Dugan. “A lot of my work centers around my own identity and certainly is made within my own community, and I’ve always felt really passionate about the importance of representation. I think that seeing yourself represented in the world around you can be incredibly important. It can be a lifeline in some cases.”

“The exhibition that will be on view at the Hyatt Centric Midtown is a selection of work from my most recent book project, which is called ‘Look At Me Like You Love Me,'” Dugan said. “This project combines portraits, still-life images and narrative texts to really investigate what it means to be a person, what it means to be alive, what it means to embody an identity that is not one that is celebrated in the mainstream…. But the book as a whole is about something more universal and even deeper. I putting together this exhibition, we were very mindful of wanting to include photographs of people and couples that were visibly queer, because of course it’s in collaboration with Pride, and we really were excited about having that kind of visibility in such a prominent location.”

On the annual ACPS Emerging Artist Fellowship award:

“Jeremiah Thomas is our second annual Emerging Artist Fellow, and his exhibition just opened on Oct. 1 at MINT Gallery, and it’ll be on view for the duration of the month. Part of this fellowship is not just to highlight talent and provide professional resources in the city of Atlanta, but to really mentor a working artist who is really raw and just on the verge of needing that boost,” DeMer explained. “We work with Jeremiah… to give him printing resources, framing resources, professional development, how to install his work, and we’ve understood that this is a crucial element for photographers to stay in Atlanta and have thriving careers in Atlanta.”

The Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival is currently underway, with events taking place all over the city through Nov. 19.

More information is available at