Nobody was more surprised by the large crowd that showed up at the Portland Public Library for the “Photos of the Year” opening reception than the featured photographers from the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

“Some of these images I remember seeing in the paper, but it’s great to see them in larger, more impressive sizes,” said Lucy Sommo of Portland.

“I appreciate the range of great photography from all across the state,” said Suzanne Fox of Falmouth.

“On Sunday, we’re a statewide paper, so geography is something we considered,” said Yoon Byun, the newspaper’s photo editor. The 25 photos selected include some taken in Fort Kent and Indian Township.

Spanning sports, news, politics and features, the images reflect “everyday joys” and “moments of tragedy and reflection.” The exhibit also includes photos by three student contest winners.

“I appreciate seeing prints, rather than just newsprint,” said Knapp Hudson, a member of the Portland Camera Club.

“And to read what the photographers were thinking,” added his wife, Ella Hudson.

“It’s really interesting when you read a professional photographer writing about their work,” said Cliff Schechtman, executive editor of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. “Every photographer brings a different perspective … and those truths are captured in these images.”

“They’re very evocative – the milkman in the morning, the young lady holding flowers,” said Anthony Ardolino of Scarborough.

“It’s great that the paper is considering the aesthetic value of these things,” said Steve Shapiro of Portland.

“So far, we’ve been totally blown away,” said Zach Croll, checking out the exhibition with his wife, Janel Croll.

“Some of the photos are quite touching,” said Linda Cullivan of Scarborough.

“Our photographers’ photojournalism from this year is clearly drawing a large crowd,” Schechtman said. “And the library’s work on the historical photos is astounding. Our archive photos going back 80 years couldn’t be in better hands than the Portland Public Library.”

Abraham Schechter, archivist at the library, has analyzed about 1.2 million images from the newspaper’s photo negatives from the past eight decades. For the exhibit “Our Places, Our Times: Portland through the Decades, 1930s-2000s,” Schechter scanned more than 300 potential negatives. “But wall space limited me to 49 pictures,” he said.

Both “Photos of the Year” and “Our Places, Our Times” are in the Lewis Gallery on the first floor of the Portland Public Library through Feb. 28.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer based in Scarborough. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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