PhotoNOLA is the New Orleans Photo Alliance's big annual event, and although its official festivities only last a few days, many of its more than 50 photography exhibitions run through December, and some go through January. (Visit www.photonola.org/exhibitions for the list.) It's too much for most people to see, but an exhibit of prints by Photo Alliance members at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art provides a sampler. Most of the work is consistently interesting, but the edgy, art history-inspired collaborative pieces by Epaul Julien and Elizabeth Kleinveld can be startling. Their emblematic Ode to Van Eyck's Arnolfini Marriage (pictured) is mostly true to the Renaissance original but with a modern multicultural twist. Also be sure to check out the splendiferous Louviere + Vanessa retrospective while you're there.
A different interplay of past and present appears in the Octavia Gallery's Contemporary Antiques expo, where local masters of archaic photographic techniques such as Debbie Fleming Caffery, David Halliday, Josephine Sacabo and Euphus Ruth share space with hundreds of Instagram photos arranged salon-style, covering the walls. These works offer a contrast between the instant gratification of digital technology and the aura of depth and presence associated with the much slower and more labor-intensive photo techniques of the past. Photography originally was seen as an alternative to painting, which the soft-focus lenses of the 19th century often suggested, but in more modern times paintings became much sharper, sometimes almost photographic. Lake Roberson Newton's Painter's Choice series of abstract photographs at Staple Goods blurs the boundaries between the brush and the lens. Prints with titles like Baltimore, Palermo or Memphis often possess the mysterious presence of ciphers that playfully link photographic immediacy to the legacies of modernist painters in a circular continuum of influence. — D. Eric Bookhardt