Neil Leifer returns...this time it's personal!

He came back! Yes that's right...Neil Leifer returned to our Space and gave an unprecedented 2nd IRIS Nights lecture!

(photo © Damon Webster)

Neil is truly a one-of-a-kind photographer. His one-of-a-kind work is on display at the Space through March 14. Don't miss it if you haven't seen it yet! Neil's so "one-of-a-kind" that we asked him to come back and offer a second lecture.

I love this pic...so Hitchcock!

Neil's lecture was an all new look at the subject of Football - the images coming from his insta-classic Taschen book "Guts & Glory: Golden Age of American Football," which he was very happy to show and tell us about.

If you have never had the opportunity to hear Neil Leifer speak you have to add this to your bucket list. His funny, fact-filled forays into the history of modern sports are truly unique.

Of course every good Neil Leifer lecture starts with ... well ... NEIL!...and no one can talk about the brash young teenage photographer breaking onto the scene like Neil can. Here he is facing off with his own history:

(photo © Damon Webster)

...and here he's consulting his current favorite authority on the subject...

As always, his images are historic, innovative and - at times - humorous!

Does ANYONE remember when football cheerleaders looked like this?

Amazing. For a man who has witnessed and participated in over 5 decades of sports history,

...Neil remains ever-grateful, ever-enthusiastic, ever-engaging and ever-entertaining about his life.

Thank you once again Mr. Leifer for another wonderful night!

(All photos © Unique for the Space except where noted)

Gil Garcetti - Our 45th IRIS Night Lecture!

It was the 45th IRIS Nights Lecture and the very last lecture during our "Water" exhibition. Annenberg Foundation Executive Director Leonard Aube and Director of Operations Sylia Obagi were there to welcome our lecturer, the former elected district attorney of Los Angeles, Gil Garcetti.

Garcetti wasn't making another routine stop made by politicians every election year, that is, he isn't running for office. In fact, the purpose for his visit was to deliver one of many portfolio presentations by Gil Garcetti, the critically acclaimed (by the New York Times!) photographer.

Although he's given up his role prosecuting criminals, Garcetti has taken up a new advocacy defending our world most crucial resource, water.

Just prior to the lecture, Aube took an informal poll of the crowd to see how many people were regulars - and he found a large number of hands in the air when he asked how many people had been to more than 10 of our lectures!

...and there was one gentleman who had attended 43 of the 45 lectures!
Now that's dedication.

Garcetti has documented water and the empowerment of women in West Africa, hoping to bring global attention to issues of safe water and economic stabilization.

He helped inspire the creation of Wells Bring Hope - a nonprofit org that helps dig wells for underserved communities in Africa.

Who would have ever believed that after years as a high profile D.A., Garcetti would transition into a career as a highly regarded photographer?

Garcetti told of how his first published images of the Walt Disney Music Hall earned him praise from photographic greats (and previous exhibitor/lecturers) like Julius Schulman and David Hume Kennerly.

Early work showed the steel workers on the project

- and he described how his chosen form of expression became his passion and his post-political career.

Eager to start a new trend here in America, Garcetti also shared some stories from his current work Women in Bikes,

a collection of images of fashionable women who bicycle in Paris as an everyday means of transportation.

His presentation at the Space secured a whole new audience of followers.

At the book signing following the lecture, Garcetti helped raised over $1,275 from book sales to go to Wells Bring Hope.

and received a donation of over $6,000 from a foundation in attendance!

What a great way to close an incredible exhibit...and what a nice surprise for our final lecturer for Water: Our Thirsty World!

Thank you Mr. Garcetti for helping us demonstrate the many ways in which philanthropy can take shape!

(All images © Unique for the Space)

O'Meara Brings Volcanoes to Life


Stephen James O'Meara, one of our Extreme Exposure featured photographers, was the first IRIS Nights lecturer in our new series. O'Meara and his wife Donna (who graced us with her presence at our opening night) have lived on a volcano for the past 30 years. You read right - they not only take pictures of volcanoes erupting around the globe, they LIVE atop an active one.

Stephen's lecture was called "Does the Moon Affect Volcanoes on Earth?" - which if you attended you now know is not such a wild subject. Stephen is an animated speaker who is incredibly inspired by his studies. He also happens to be an astronomer, so no one could be better prepared to answer this question. Stephen explained how the Moon affects tidal flows of water, but also of the Earth crust itself.

He went into great detail about how the tides of the Earth's crust rise and fall at regular interval, but when the Earth is closest to the Moon (perigee) those tides are more rapid and when the Earth is farthest from the Moon (apogee) the tides of the crust grow more slow.

The best part was how he demonstrated this change by condensing the daily and monthly tidal intervals by breathing in and out. It was an incredibly simplified demonstration but it made very clear what the effect Moon has on tides (both water and crust) and therefore on the probability of volcanic eruptions.

Steve seemed like he was about to erupt a few times!

It was a great pleasure listening to such an informed and inspiring individual. I can't believe we've never had a Vulcanologist/Astronomer lecture here before!

What Age is Beauty? Carmen Dell'Orefice turns 80!

Carmen Dell'Orefice has been giving us images of perfection since she was 15 years old - that's 65 years of working as a model...65 years.

Carmen turned 80 this week, breaking every boundary between age and beauty that anyone might be holding.

This is what 80 looks like:

Well, to be totally honest this is what 78 looks like - it was shot as part of an ad campaign for Rolex in 2009. This photo by Fadil Berisha is so stunning that we used it as one of our street banners that promote the BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit.

The image below was shot a month or so ago - so this is what 79 years and 300 some odd days looks like:

...and another one a few months before that:

Just shy of 80 folks. I'm just saying...we can all but pray that 80 will be so kind to us.

What's even more amazing than how young she looks now, is how mature she looked when she was 15 and posed for her very first Vogue cover. I know one thing - she didn't look 15.

See images below that follow her teenage debut and demonstrate over and over how Carmen has remained a timeless fashion plate and style icon...not to mention a muse to photographers such as Avedon, Horst, Parkinson...and the list goes on.

Don't hate her because she's beautiful...and Happy 80th Carmen!

May you have many more.

Recent Developments: Catherine Opie

If you haven't been to MOCA in downtown Los Angeles recently, you'd better hurry. Its current exhibit, The Personal is Political: Women Artists from the Collection will close on October 10.

We're particularly excited because MOCA's exhibit prominently displays an original chromogenic print of Catherine Opie's "Self-Portrait" (1993). You may remember that Opie was one of the 11 photographers who were part of our inaugural exhibit, L8S ANG3LES. In her work, Opie (who once described herself as "a kind of twisted social documentary photographer") intimately explores concepts of identity. Her powerful self-portraits and her documentation of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and transvestite community have received national attention. You can read more about Opie and see some of her work in our past exhibitions archive.

Of course, "Self-Portrait" fits in perfectly with the other artists' works in Personal is Political, who work in every media from oil paint to video installation, but share a common interest in body politics. But, we have to say, we've got a soft spot for the photography in the exhibit.

Jimmy Chin is TOO Nice!

Jimmy Chin came to the Space to offer an IRIS Nights Lecture about his unique form of sports photography. What's so unusual about Jimmy's work you might ask? First of all he comes off as the nicest most unassuming guy you could ever meet.

He's almost cartoon character cute with an ever-present smile and a talent for understatement that would be hard to beat.

You would never guess by looking at him that he has climbed to the top of Mt. Everest a few times...and skied down from the top! Yes - this is him dutifully recording his friends walking across a ridge so that they could get to the best face to ski down. That little thing popping up from the ridge all the way to the right is a human being.

Jimmy said "we encountered a few minor obstacles getting across..." which meant that they had to rappel down one side of a gap in the ridge more than 40 feet until they could get the right angle to SWING to the other side of the gap - AT 28,000+ FEET!!!! - where they could keep creeping along until they got to this side:

Then they skied down at a descent angle of more than 50 degrees.

The whole time he described this as is it were the most normal thing in the world. Or should I say the most normal thing at the TOP of the world.

And here's an intimate little portrait of the top of the world. The weather gets a little weird 5 miles up - who knew?

Can you tell what this is? Sure! Just a person walking across some rickety ladders strapped to each other to form a rickety bridge that I wouldn't walk across at 10 feet no less 28,000.

But THAT is what these crazy mountain people do!


A couple of Jimmy's mountain goat friends came to lecture to show support, including Emile Hirsch. Back in January Jimmy led a weeklong all-star Summit on the Summit expedition up Mount Kilimanjaro to bring awareness to the climate summit. Emile joined as did Jessica Biel, Lupe Fiasco, Isabel Lucas and Elizabeth Gore.

That kind of activism takes dedication.


Emile was kind enough to pose afterwards with his mountain mentor Jimmy.

So that was what Jimmy and Emile did on their Winter vacation...while I caught up on my Tivo'd episodes of Heroes.

Brian L. Frank and our rivers

Wearing his signature baseball cap, Brian L. Frank, POYi award winning photographer whose work is prominently featured in this exhibition's digital video, gave an awesome lecture at the Space on Thursday.

Brian covered his current portfolio as well as images of the Colorado River that brought him international success as POYi's Global Visionary Award recipient. Brian spoke at length about his inspirations, including the WPA photographs of the country during the depression.

Brian's tip for success was as simple and clear as his personal presentation... respect the story and respect the voice of the subject regardless of how unpopular the point of view is.

Understanding the perspective of the subject is critical to the success of the image and the impact it has.

Brian shared some of his current multimedia projects as well as his thoughts on the industry's use of audio still projects and how it can be improved.

Witty and all too charming, Brian's ability to establish genuine relationships with his subjects was evident in his ease of establishing a relationship with those of use who gathered to hear him speak and see his images. His down-to-earth connection with his subjects and the environment he captures has produced some of the most remarkable images of Mexico City and its people we've ever seen.

He even demonstrated his ability to establish ease with his subject on a few of our attending guests!

Thank you Brian L. Frank...you are a humble inspiration.

(PS On July 23 Brian appeared on NPR's discussing his photo essay "Death of the Colorado" - very cool!)

(All Photos © 2010 Unique for the Space)

Aaron Huey: I Walk To Be In The Great Unkown

Photographer Aaron Huey's life simply screams adventure. He has shot for such for places all over the world for such high-profile publications as  National Geographic, the Smithsonian Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.

Aaron began his IRIS Nights lecture reflecting on the theme of the current exhibition at the Space: "Extreme Exposure." He defines "extreme" as "furthest," "remotest," and "inaccessible."

We all go for walks, but nothing compares to how Aaron goes about doing it - he really goes for a walk! He spent a good portion of his lecture on his series of photographs that focused on his trek across America in 2002. He and his dog, Cosmo, spent 154 days covering 3,349 miles from California to New York, walking every step of the way. That's sure to put some good wear and tear on your sneakers!

Aaron explained that this walk was not a photo project but "a meditation." It was a way for him to help clear his thoughts. He walks "to be in the great unknown."

Like most of us, Aaron has a million things going through his mind at once and he wanted to purge these overwhelming thoughts. He provided a humorous (yet not too far-fetched!) visual of what his thought process looks like.

Like the "thought" slide above proves, humor is a big part of Aaron's personality and was also a big part of his lecture. He had the audience in stitches throughout!

In attendance that night was journalist and friend of the photographer, Alex Chadwick.

While traveling across America, Aaron revealed that, due to the generosity of the people he encountered, he only spent $250 dollars of his own money during his entire trip across America. He took people up on their charitable offers to feed him and put him up in their homes for the night. What did he get offered the most? Beer, bibles as well as other leisurely diversions.

Aaron also talked about the time he has spent documenting the people of the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. It's a place he cares deeply about and he travels there several times a year.

Here's Aaron with the Annenberg Foundation's Charles Weingarten, who stopped by to say hello after the lecture. We're sure the two swapped quite a few stories about their own travels around the world!

You did such a great job at IRIS Nights, Aaron and best of luck on your next adventure! If you go for another long walk, remember to invest in a good pair of sneakers!

Click here to watch Aaron's IRIS Nights lecture online. For more information about Aaron visit his official Website.

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Susan Anderson's Illusion of Womanhood

Susan Anderson, an internationally known photographer and expert on the High Glitz culture of child pageantry, recently gave us her take on the industry at our Iris Nights Lecture.

Although she abstained from giving any formal opinion on the controversial subject of beauty contests, she did claim that this is not a new issue we are dealing with. Anderson put on the screen a classical painting of Aphrodite and the golden apple and posed the question, "could this have been the first beauty pageant?"

Her question was meant to explain that society has always idealized women and we have always been fascinated with the fairy tale ending.  The fake eyelashes, the artificial tans, the thousand dollar hair dos, and the sparkly dresses all play into a preexisting culture that we are all partially responsible for creating.

Anderson admits that the most popular responses to her work are either to moralize or to laugh.  But she offers a different response: to just present.  She suggests that the little girls collaborate with her, that they have fun with it and it is their way to act, play a role and take a reality and make it their own.

She offers and interesting perspective because from where she stands it is simply art, it is fascinating and it is visually stunning.

To see more of Susan Anderson's work click here

Lauren Greenfield Comes Full Circle With BEAUTY CULTURE

While BEAUTY CULTURE continues to break attendance records here at the Annenberg Space for Photography, we thought now would be a good time as any to publish a post on one of featured photographers, Lauren Greenfield and the documentary film, also titled BEAUTY CULTURE, that accompanies the show. The 30-minute film was directed by the award-winning photographer herself.

Produced by her husband and producing partner, Frank Evers, Greenfield filmed the documentary over the course of several months in Los Angeles, New York and Paris. Her intent was to create a film that focused on the sociological and psychological perceptions of beauty from a cross-cultural viewpoint.

Regarding her work on BEAUTY CULTURE Greenfield says, "A lot of the things I photograph are interconnected: from the young girls and the kind of precocious sexualization of young girls, to the vanity of teenagers and the kind of struggle to establish your identity as a teenager, to women and older women facing the challenge of getting older in a youth-obsessed culture. So this project, BEAUTY CULTURE, allowed me to kind of bring the work full circle and look at all aspects."

The film has been met with resounding praise from many guests here at the photography space citing Los Angeles--with its Hollywood machine and incessant promotion of the billion-dollar cosmetics industry--as an ideal location for a film addressing warped ideals of beauty.

BEAUTY CULTURE is certainly not Greenfield's first foray into filmmaking. Her documentary Thin premiered on HBO in 2006, also screening at the Sundance Film Festival. A film dealing with eating disorders of young women, Thin went on to earn Greenfield an Emmy nomination for Best Director of Non-Fiction Programming. Her follow-up doc kids + money, also broadcast on HBO, won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the AFI Film Festival among other honors.

The film, which features interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis, Tyen, Crystal Renn and many others, screens throughout the day at the Space. Make sure you come see it before the exhibit closes next month.

As for Greenfield, she will return to the Space as our IRIS Nights lecturer on Thursday, October 13, in what is sure to be a standing-room only event!

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