St. Pete showcases area's best photographers for International Month of Photography

Photo exhibitions, competitions, and workshops round out an exciting month of photography in St. Pete

click to enlarge St. Pete showcases area's best photographers for International Month of Photography
Photo by Selina Roman
Say cheese! May is International Month of Photography, and St. Pete is celebrating with a series of events showcasing the area’s best photographers.

The events come courtesy of a small group of Tampa Bay-area photo influencers, three of whom are no strangers to CL. They include Tampa photographer Agueda Sanfiz, who introduced the Tampa Bay area to family documentary photography with “Picture (im)perfect” at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in 2021; Beth Reynolds, who became Tampa’s first Photographer Laureate in 2003; and photography historian and curator Marieke van der Krabben (formerly of FMoPA). The three women form the Board of Directors of one of St. Pete’s newest arts organizations – St. Pete Month of Photography, or SPMOP for short.

When I wrote this, The SPMOP website listed eight SPMOP events. Some of them were already in the works and SPMOP is just promoting them, but the majority are fresh collabs.

“When we started sending emails out to the people that we know, word of mouth worked really well,” Agueda told CL. “People started suggesting to us events and partnerships. So it’s been a good combination of us reaching out to organizations, but also people coming to us, which shows how excited the community is about having something that is lens-based [photography] centered.” It seems like every time I visit the website, they’ve added something new.

SPMOP began with the idea for a photo laureate competition. “The photo laureate was the first thing we knew we were going to do because it’s a way to bring new talent forward,” Sanfiz told CL in a phone interview.

Thirty-two photographers applied during the 3-month submission period. From those, the team narrowed it down to five finalists — Jaime Aelevanthara, Selina Roman, Thomas Sayers-Ellis, Emily Will, and Tristan Wheelock. The Morean Arts Center is displaying their work throughout SPMOP.

“The main goal was to select photographers that show their own style and creativity, and most importantly, their own way of telling a story in their photographs,” van der Krabben told CL. “The five that we selected all show their own specific style and their specific way of narrating a story inside of a photograph or a series of photographs.”

May 13 at the Morean, SPMOP organizers announce which of these five photographers gets to be St. Pete’s first-ever photo laureate. St. Pete’s first photo laureate will spend the next year documenting life in St. Pete. At the end of the year, they’ll print and frame their photos for all of St. Pete to see.

Before that, St. Pete residents can see (and purchase) photos from a much more extensive selection of St. Pete photographers at Five Deuces Galleria’s “Unique Perspectives,” which opens May 6 and will also be on view during Second Saturday ArtWalk May 13 and on Mother’s Day.

Tampa Bay area photographers submitted 444 photographs for inclusion in the show. From these, Five Deuces gallery curators Geoffrey Baris (fashion photographer) and Julie Haura selected 107 images with input from van der Krabben.

Together, they selected images demonstrating unique perspectives, as the show's title suggests.

“We were looking for photographers that showed us a perspective you don’t always see,” says Baris. “We didn’t need to see sunsets, although there are probably a couple of them in there. But the majority of the work is something the photographer caught with their camera that people wouldn’t normally see…..”

“The three of us together ended up being a good mix, and I think we’re going to have a great show,” Haura added.

In addition to showcasing the work of our Tampa Bay area photographers, SPMOP provides professional photographers and photography enthusiasts with several opportunities to improve upon their craft, including workshops in street photography and seascapes, and a portfolio review at The Morean.

Beyond SPMOP-organized events and collaborations, several May photo shows were already in the works in and around St. Pete. Exhibits at the Leepa Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs celebrate the legacy of two St. Petersburg photographers – Herb Snitzer and Tom Kramer. Meanwhile, the Museum of Fine Arts hosts a series of images from Japanese photographers working in Japan during the Meiji Era (1870-1900).

Keep St. Pete Lit! closes SPMOP with a photography-themed open mic at The [email protected], where participants recite an original poem inspired by a photograph of their choosing. The event represents SPMOP’s desire to honor photography’s interdisciplinary nature. “Photography penetrates every single aspect of our lives,” Agueda told CL. “It’s present everywhere. We use it for marketing, we use it to document our family lives…That interdisciplinary nature is so important.

“I’m excited about this [open mic],” says Agueda, who hopes to couple photography with music for next year’s SPMOP and Lumen Photo Festival. “We can do that with the other arts. I mean, you look at how the Morean presented Tom Kramer’s work – dance inspiring photo and the other way around. We have to foster those kinds of collaborations, particularly in a large platform like a photo festival….”

For the complete list of SPMOP events, see

About The Author

Jennifer Ring

Jen began her storytelling journey in 2017, writing and taking photographs for Creative Loafing Tampa. Since then, she’s told the story of art in Tampa Bay through more than 200 art reviews, artist profiles, and art features. She believes that everyone can and should make art, whether they’re good at it or not...
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