Brian Bowen Smith: Beauty Is What You Make It

Not even a broken leg could stop photographer Brain Bowen Smith from giving a rousing lecture at IRIS Nights last night.

Brian did not intend to define beauty last night but instead explained that he believes that the topic is truly subjective.

He described how the combination of luck, guts and fate landed him his first job with famed photographer Herb Ritts, who would later become his mentor. According to Brian, Ritts taught him how to adeptly manipulate natural light and use photography to translate a model's true self.

But his most significant contribution was the idea of simplicity. "Beauty is simplicity and everything revolves around beauty," said Brian. "So I want to keep it simple."

Brian revealed that Ritts's style has been a source of inspiration throughout his professional career. Here's a photo that has a hint of Ritts but is truly all Brian Bowen Smith.

Brian reiterated his belief in simplicity. "Don't make a big deal about it," offered Brian. "Have fun. Keep it simple."

His exuberant and animated personality had the audience engaged and laughing the entire night.

As one audience member put it, "he was so personable and such a good speaker. I was amazed by him!"

Thanks for a terrific lecture, Brian. Here's to a quick recovery!

For more information about Brian, visit his website.

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

The Media Is Talking About "Digital Darkroom"!

"Digital Darkroom" has already received some terrific coverage in the press and on the blogsosphere! Below is just a number of the many outlets and blogs that have mentioned the show:

New York Times Lens blog (Dec. 12)

New York Times Lens blog (Dec. 13)

Photoshop Café

The Los Angeles Times Framework blog

Patch - Century City

Cool Mom

Check out this great video from a segment that aired on NBC4 the morning of December 15th.

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Lucy Nicholson makes it seem so fun!

Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space
On Thursday the amazing Lucy Nicholson - senior staff photographer at Reuters - graced our Space with her lilting British accent, her light-hearted sense of humor and an incredible presentation.

Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space
From a short film about how an organization the size of Reuters shoots a big event to her own riveting photos, Lucy gave us a lot of rich content from a unique perspective to consider.
Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009  © Unique for the Space
Seeing what goes into what we end up seeing online (around the world) was a real eye-opener. Once again we learned at the feet of a master (matrix?).

Lucy even gave a breakdown of the elements that go into Sport photography and discussed the importance of all the different factors...very helpful!

Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space

She also let us see some of her non-sports portfolio. Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space

Lucy was so down-to-earth and accessible...

Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space

Long after the Q&A was over Lucy hung around talking with lecture guests, friends and fans...

Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space

Thank you for rounding out an amazing year of lecture Lucy!
Happy Holidays everyone!

Camille Seaman brings timeless wisdom to the Space

"...the Earth is not just our mother - we are made of this..." Camille Seaman said as she loaded up her first slide.

"None of us were born in space or on another planet - so everything that went into creating us came from this planet. And this planet is made from pieces of exploding stars...all of the metals that form the core of our planet - the metals that we mine and adorn our bodies with come from exploding stars."

"...we are made of stars..."

This was only the start of Camille Seaman's lecture at The Space yesterday, as she took us along on her personal journey (tagged onto the end of the story of creation!) to becoming a National Geographic  award-winning photographer.


Admitting that she was, by both nature and heredity, a bit of a storyteller, she proceed to tell us the story of her travels and growth as a photographer.

Camille played a slideshow of her current portfolio. Her soft-spoken voice only enhanced the boldness of her storytelling and photographic work documenting the fragile environment of the North and South Pole regions.

Her images are as courageous as they are beautiful.

Camille's life and work is inspirational and the peace, scale and calmness of her photography is thrilling.


After viewing her portfolio on the huge digital screen (a size perfectly suited for a subject so enormous), and following her unfolding of her perspective from having visited the vast openness of the planet's poles multiple times,


you couldn't help but to leave the presentation last night loving the earth just a little bit more than you did before.

At the end of the night she raffled off some prints to raise funds and awareness about her next (and last) visit to the Arctic, weaving the guests into her personal story of documenting the fragile extremes of our planet.


Thank you Camille for spreading the earth love!

(All photos © Unique for the Space)

Francine Orr: The Listening Comes First

This is what Francine Orr revealed early on in her IRIS Nights talk: "photojournalism is my passion." The LA Times photographer showed just how much she cares about the people she photographs by giving an awfully touching and moving lecture.

The first series of photographs in Francine's presentation focused on her documentation of people in Africa who live on just pennies a day. She told the audience that she had a hard time talking to people suffering from poverty but spoke to them anyway due to a strong urge to tell their stories.

Francine spent a bit of time talking about one photo in particular, that of a wide-eyed African woman named Margaret who was dying of HIV.

She described the moment she convinced Margaret's children to allow her to photograph their mother. She told them that the haunting image would tell the world her story and in turn this would help others.

Francine uttered several fervent soundbites during the lecture. One of our favorites was "Poverty sucks!"

Orr has spent a large amount of her career ensconced in dangerous places all over the world. She recounted one story about a time when she was in Africa and suspected her "fixer," the man she hired to protect/translate for her, planned to rob her of her expensive camera equipment.

She remembered how she'd been told by others in her field to go with her instincts. One morning, she wisely ditched him and went out on her own for the rest of her trip.

Francine also went into detail about how she befriended several homeless people she documented who live under the 7th Street Bridge in LA.

During the presentation of her final slideshow, Francine held a brave 7-month old baby boy who is the subject of a story to be published in an upcoming edition of the LA Times - a truly touching moment. That night he became the youngest person to go up on our IRIS Nights stage!

When asked by an audience member if she records interviews with her subjects before she starts photographing them, or shoots them first and then interviews them, Orr responded that's it's neither. For her, the listening comes first. When dealing with a story, she says, "the number one thing I try to do is listen." Quite a statement for a photographer.

Her two years working for the Peace Corps, on the island of Yap in Micronesia, was where she said she really learned to listen. She taught in a school there with no electricity, no outside communication except for visiting documentary film crews and anthropologists. Gathering around oil lanterns at night the Yapese people would share stories with her and each other...with not a single distraction. One of her former students from Yap - now living in the US - recently found her on Facebook and came to the lecture with a sister in tow!

Thanks, Francine, for sharing such moving and inspiring stories. We hope to hear more of them in the future!

For more information about Francine visit her upcoming official Website.

We at the Space are very excited to bring you videos of IRIS Nights lectures in a more timely manner. Click here to watch Francine's lecture online!

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Tyler Stableford Finds That Dramatic Moment

"World's Greatest Adventure Photographer." "Explorer of Light." These are the names of just some of the awards that Tyler Stableford has won during his distinguished career as an outdoor/adventure photographer. Those are titles just about any adventure photographer would be more than happy to have.

Sitting front and center at Tyler's lecture last night were regular IRIS Nights attendees, Vaughn Hart and Jack Weiss. The two have each been to over 47 sessions of the lecture series since it began two years ago!

Tyler presented his lecture, titled "Out There: Capturing the Dramatic Moment," and the rock-climbing enthusiast, explained just how he goes about capturing those dramatic images.

One technique he prefers is to aim his camera directly into the sun. Take a look at the breath-taking shot above!

Tyler loves using wide lenses in his photographs and has a lot of fun framing his subjects in his photographs.

Tyler spent some time talking about his experience photographing a coal mine in Colorado. Tyler recounted incredible stories  of harrowing near-death episodes from the miners he photographed. Mining isn't just a dirty job, but a dangerous one!

Tyler touched upon the impact his photography has had on his personal live revealing that he and his wife, Megan, recently adopted a 9-month-old orphan from Ethiopia, a country in which he's shot some brilliant images.

Tyler screened the trailer to his short film, The Fall Line, which is about an injured Iraq War veteran whose mental and physical recovery involves the skiing slopes of Aspen, Colorado and his membership in the 2010 Paralympic ski team.

Tyler further lives up to his adventure reputation by photographing f-16 fighter jets and their pilots. Taking pictures in the sky - now that's adventurous!

Thanks for a great lecture, Tyler! We can't wait to see you capture more exciting images in the sky, below the ground and everywhere in between!

Watch Tyler's IRIS Nights lecture here (where you can also see the full trailer for The Fall Line) and learn more about him on his official site.

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Digital Darkroom Opens At The Space

Digital Darkroom is now open at the Space and last week's opening night gala saw almost all of the photographers gather at the Annenberg Foundation offices above the Photography Space to celebrate. Just before the party, 16 of the 17 artists (Khuong Nguyen was definitely missed!) posed for this once in a lifetime group shot.

After the upstairs festivities, the photographers joined the rest of the revelers downstairs at the Space to enjoy the amazing artwork presented Digital Darkroom, our 8th exhibit.

Here's the show's Pierre Beteille with friend to the Space (and L8S ANGL3ES photographer) Douglas Kirkland and his wife Françoise.

Partygoers learn more about the art by maneuvering the Microsoft Surface tables.

And here's Steve Kochones, whose Arclight Productions produced both the feature film and 3D movie that accompany the exhibit.

Kirkland poses with Digital Darkroom curatorial advisor Russell Brown.

Brown gets silly with 3D artist Mike Pucher. Get your own free 3D glasses at the Space!

Annenberg Foundation Executive Director took to the podium to say a few words just before the presentation of the 3D film.

He was followed by Brown who then introduced...

The Space's Pat Lanza, our Director of Talent and Content.

Time for another group shot of the photographers and a round of applause, just before the start of the film.

Brooke Shaden, whose work is showcased in the show, takes a seat while she and her guests absorb the film for Digital Darkroom.

Ted Grudowski went around the party taking photos - in 3D! Look for those images here very soon.

Claudia Kunin and a partygoer enjoy the gala.

Martine Roch poses in front of her photographs.

Pierre Beteille's images can be very playful - just like him!

Jerry Uelsmann and Russell Brown also get a little silly toward the end of the night.

Everyone loved wearing their 3D glasses - this was the most popular pose of the night! Remember, hang on to your 3D glasses when you visit the Space. We'll have a slew of 3D content for you to look at on The Shot very soon.

Digital Darkroom runs through May 28, 2012! Come see the show soon!

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

He Shoots - He Scores! Leifer knocks it out of the park! (add in your sport metaphor)

Neil Leifer, Thursday, January 7 - © Unique for the Space
Neil Leifer kicked off 2010 with our first IRIS Nights lecture of the New Year and boy did he just raise the bar!

We had such an amazing turnout that we actually had to turn a few people away (we're SORRY!)... over 250 people filled our digital gallery AND our workshop area. Neil - always the prepared professional - was at the Space early to run through his slides and do an interview with KCAL (which they will be running on Super Bowl Sunday of course). He also took the time to chat in our Reading Room with one of our previous esteemed lecturers, David Hume Kennerly.

David Hume Kennerly and Neil Leifer at the Photography Space

Also in the house for Neil was recent lecturer Howard Schatz:
Howard Schatz at Neil Leifer's Lecture

Neil was so prepared he brought his own introduction, narrated by Alec Baldwin(!). He watched with great joy as Alec, Sly Stallone and numerous luminaries sang his praises before he even reached the podium. Neil Leifer waiting in the wings

Once he took 'the stage' we sat rapt, listening to the master regale us with tales of how a hard-scrabble hobbyist kid (yes that's him in the picture below!)

Neil Leifer at the Space for IRIS Nights Lecture

...became the youngest photographer to grab the cover of Sports Illustrated. Neil's a natural storyteller and a huge fan of his subjects...whether it's Muhammad Ali...

Leifer's images of Ali at the Space
...or it's Fidel Castro!

Leifer with Castro and Leifer

Neil peppered his lecture with threats to reveal the score of the Texas/Alabama BCS Championship game being played in Pasadena during the lecture, but he was loudly overruled by our guests who didn't want the surprise ruined.
Neil threatening to reveal the score

Whether you were a sports fan, a photography buff, a history nut or an A-List photographer, Neil offered a highly entertaining evening...looking quite at home talking from our podium.

Neil Leifer at the podium

Afterwards, Schatz and Kennerly hung out for a while, chatting...
Howard Schatz and David Hume Kennerly

...while Neil settled comfortably in for a long line of book-buying fans...for whom he signed everything...books, postcards, napkins.

Neil Leifer, signing post-lecture
He was so comfortable, in fact, and the audience was so appreciative, that we're going to have him come back on February 13 for a special Saturday IRIS Nights lecture -completely new, unlike his first program.

What can we say? We love having Neil here and we're glad the feeling is mutual!
Neil Leifer

Mother's Day the Annenberg Space for Photography way!

Did you hear? Mother's Day was our most well-attended day at The Annenberg Space for Photography ... ever. You gotta hand it to all the mothers out there for making things happen. Without them where would we all be...?

Here at the Space, we took lots of lovely photos...

We took photos of moms with sons, moms with their daughters, moms with their entire families and even some soon-to-be mommies.

We took a few pictures of some proud fathers too, but really this blog is about the Mother's Day.

We printed out these special event photos for our wonderful patrons and they got take home a keepsake that will last...until the ink fades away (Epson estimates 200 years, archived properly).

We also had cookies and ice-cold milk for our patient guests. But I can't forget the other reason people came to the Space that day: to see our amazing National Geographic Water Exhibition!

Indeed, it was a great day to be a mother at The Annenberg Space for Photography.

(Photos © Griffin Lauerman and Tony Miller for the Space)

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