Ever since my photography instructor from the Visual Arts Center mentioned Candela Books + Gallery, I’ve wanted to visit. Located in Richmond, Virginia on Broad Street in a renovated historical building, the gallery opened in December 2011. Candela is unique in that it both publishes photography books and exhibits fine art photography.

The establishment of Candela began with a single purpose – to honor the work of a relatively unknown artist, Gita Lenz.

Though Lenz had many noteworthy accomplishments, and her work is represented in both public and private collections, no book existed to document her life’s work. So in an attempt to augment the legacy of this talented photographer, Gordon Stettinius created Candela Books and published Gita Lenz.

Candela continues to grow, publishing compelling photography books and exhibiting the work of both established and less recognized photographers.  

We have also initiated an annual summer juried invitational exhibition called UnBound!, which is designed for the sole purpose of supporting fine art photographers by raising funds with a fundraising gala event and then purchasing work from the exhibition with those proceeds.  The Candela Collection will, one day, be donated to a significant permanent collection.

My visit to Candela was the highlight of my summer. I felt as though I belonged. I could see my place, and more importantly, the direction I might be headed. A phrase from my friend Miss Polly kept floating through my thoughts – seeing with my whole body – and this is the best description of the experience. Lost in those pictures, I found myself.

I purchased a copy of the photographs of Gita Lenz, signed up for the newsletter, and walked out the door to a world of pictures waiting to be made. I can hardly wait to see what comes next.

Day 149 (photo credit: Matt Eich for Dissolution and Backyard Haircut exhibited as part of UnBound!)

Day 149 (photo credit: Matt Eich for Dissolution and Backyard Haircut exhibited as part of UnBound!)