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!

Throwdown at the Space!


When Laila Ali took the podium at the Space yesterday with her favorite photographer Mikki Willis, many of us were already expecting a brazen and strong voice from the reigning champion of women's middleweight boxing and daughter of the most famous boxer ever - Muhammad Ali.


Without a doubt Laila Ali lived up to the hype.


Laila was a powerful presence.


Mikki quizzed her on her boxing career and ran a slideshow of his work including some iconic portraits of her.

What we didn't expect was for Ali to be called out by a female audience member, amateur boxer Miss Tami, and challenged to a match to defend her undefeated title. During the Q & A following the lecture, Miss Tami approached the podium and faced Ali in a boxing stare down, "calling her out in front of everyone."

Laila surprised everyone by calling Miss Tami up to compare builds, reach, and hand-sizes. The audience was thrilled even as Staff pondered whether or not the situation was going to require a call to security.

It was clear, even before a smile broke free from them both, that the fearless mother, wife and fighter Laila Ali had no need for any guard or security.


Although Miss Tami or shall we call her Miss T. didn't get Ali to agree to a bout in the ring, her encounter might just develop into a more amiable relationship with one of the most inspirational female boxers today.


That Mikki Willis was personally selected by Laila Ali to discuss her life and career in front of an audience at the Space came as no surprise.

Their understanding of social responsibility and commitment to improving the lives of others is a common thread demonstrated in their work and emerged as the focus of the lecture.


The bulk of Mikki's questions turned the spotlight on Ali and were centered on her experiences and ideals rather than the intricacies of each photograph he captured of her,


but the discussion between the two friends still embodied the framework of Sports photography, the essential moments and people of sports history as captured by the photographer.

You tell us: How would you define Sports Photography?

(All photos © Unique for the Space)

Kate Orne - "May You Never Be Uncovered"


Kate Orne - our 48th IRIS Nights lecturer - came to the Space to share her research on victims of the Pakistan sex trade. For over four years Kate has been documenting this dark demimonde and its oppressed population.

Kate's collection of images represents a fragile and honest portrayal of the women and girls living in Pakistan's brothels. Her work is the result of developing long term friendships, trust relationships and complete, non-judgmental acceptance between her and her subjects.

Kate's presentation was frank, direct and - surprisingly - humorous! A highlight from the Q&A was Orne saying, in reply to how Pakistani men resolve being Muslim and going to prostitutes: "there is something stronger than religion, and that is SEX! Everyone wants to get laid!"

But going beyond the humor, Kate expressed a powerful personal passion and eagerness to resolve a history of abuse where women are forced into sex trade - and yet she also demonstrated a gentle and compassionate tone discussing these victims who continue to work the sex trade without force.

Kate encourages those interested in learning more to visit her website. To protect the identity of the subjects photographed, the images shown during the presentation will not be posted online.

(All images © Unique for the Space)

Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson Want To Save The World's Elephants

More than half of the elephants in the world have been massacred over the last 30 years. Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson want to do as much as they can to help reverse this alarming trend through the advocacy work and their photography. They explained in last night's lecture exactly how important these creatures have been to the planet and its people.

This husband and wife team has passed their passion for these majestic animals on to their young son, Lysander. The young advocate opened his parent's lecture with a message: "You should not do to elephants what you don't want the elephants to do to you." Such enlightened words from such a young man!

What makes this duo such a great team? The fact that, as Marie noted, Cyril is the "wordsmith" during the lecture and she makes sure that the photography slideshow chugs along at a good clip. They work together as smoothly as a well oiled machine!

Cyril and Marie explained how they were unsuccessful photographing a magical moment of two lions swimming in the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe but not to worry: they have captured plenty of other shots, some of which include animals which have "posed" for the photographers, such as the bull elephants above. But they do try to discourage their subjects because they like to be as spontaneous as possible.

Here's a beautiful spontaneous shot taken by them during a dust storm in Kilimanjaro.

Said Cyril during the lecture: "Let's hope we've started a stampede." The kind of stampede he's referring to is one of action from people all over the world to save Asian and African elephants.

Just because her husband is a "wordsmith" doesn't mean that Marie had plenty to say during the lecture. She informed the crowd how they can help save the world's elephants: by educating yourself, re-connecting with nature and saying positive prayers.

Cyril and Marie were generous enough to discuss their work with some of the folks in attendance after the lecture. Thanks to both of you for such an enlightening night!

We'll leave you with a fun shot of the youngest elephant rights advocate we know. And remember, "You should not do to elephants what you don't want the elephants to do to you!"

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Story Time with Mark Laita

It was my first week on the job interning for the Annenberg Foundation and already I was sent to cover one of our IRIS Nights lectures, a favorite among dedicated fans.

That night Mark Laita spoke about his new photobook, Created Equal, a collection of black and white photo diptychs contrasting the portraits of everyday Americans by putting, for example, a picture of Baptist minister next to members of the Ku Klux Klan or nuns next to prostitutes. The inspiration for the project is incredible: Laita left behind his polished life in the advertising world to find the real America he grew up with, the one he wanted to make sure the world would never forget.

But what stuck out to me was not necessarily his professional or captivating photos (which are absolutely incredible) but the way he engaged us in the process.  I found myself leaning forward, completely engrossed in every word, waiting on the edge of my seat for the next description of the photo pair.

His tales of having breakfast with the Hell's Angels, coercing an Amish man into being photographed or becoming best buds with some weed farmers had me and the rest of the audience rolling in laughter. It felt like you were getting to know his subjects personally and the portraits became more than pictures, they were real life people who were living in the same country as myself.   But that was the point.  He wanted to elevate the raw and rugged America to a place of glamor and importance.

"I was trying to find hidden gems that are normally overlooked," said Laita during his presentation, "It's not about finding these grand/great people, it's about finding the ordinary people and making them look great."

Later someone from the audience asked him what statement he was trying to make with comparing nuns to prostitutes.  Laita just smiled and said he meant to pass no judgment; he simply wanted to ask the question, "How then can two girls grow up in the same county and have two completely different fates?"

And from where I was sitting it was mission accomplished for every picture I saw I asked myself the same question. There are two men who look strikingly similar and I asked myself so how is it that one became a CEO and the other a janitor?   

Learn more about Mark on his official website.

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

Learn All About The Annenberg Audio Tour

We live in the Digital Age and it seems like a lot of kids (and adults!) alike are more likely to spend a Saturday swinging a Wii remote over their heads than spending a day looking at art. Don't get us wrong, we at the Annenberg Space for Photography are as guilty as anyone when it comes to our love of technology and this is most obvious with the Annenberg Audio Tour.

 

We designed the Annenberg Audio Tour— to give guests additional details about select photographs throughout the exhibit. Our audio tour is simple. It consists of a series of QR (that's short for Quick Response) codes printed on caption cards throughout the galleries, headphones and an iPod provided by the front desk at the Space. You can also use your very own smart phone.

It's very easy to use. If you're not using one of the devices at the Space, just download a QR reader to your own smart phone, scan the QR code on the caption card and enjoy! It's information about the exhibit's photographers and images you can't find anywhere else. Each QR Code leads you deeper into the exhibit, giving you information about numerous images, some of them very iconic, and their subjects that you never knew before. 

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Rutherford and Mendoza step up to the plate!

One thing that we love about the lectures for the SPORT exhibit has been the wonderful assistance provided by the Women Sports Foundation, who helped us bring some incredible athletes to share the podium with photographers. They introduced us to Aimee Mullins who came to speak with Howard Schatz, and Laila Ali who spoke with Mikki Willis.

Last night was another great pairing - this one with a female athlete AND a female photographer - the lovely lenslady Marla Rutheford and the bubbly Olympic medalist Jessica Mendoza.

From the way these two ladies played off of each other and cracked each other up you would think you were a fly on the wall at a fun sleepover, not in the room with innovating industry leaders.



For all the laughter and fun the two were very serious in their discussion of their experiences and the not so charming realities about making it in the industry of sports photography.

Marla spoke to the challenges she has faced in developing a trust relationship with her subjects, resorting to charm, intellect, a lot of humor and even a little fibbing so they would feel comfortable posing for artistic semi-nudes.

Jessica discussed the wake-up call moment she had when one of the first images of her in circulation was digitally enhanced by the publishers, causing her to question whether or not her appearance should play such a central role in the coverage of athletics.

They both shared captivating stories about these and other turning points in their extraordinary careers.

...and try as they might they could not stop cracking each other up!

At the end of the day we were just thrilled to be in the presence of such positive, accomplished and inspiring ladies.

(All photos © Unique for the Space)

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