Beauty Pageant Culture

You'll find an array of photos of beauty pageant contestants in BEAUTY CULTURE. From Miss Senior California, the one and only Pink Lady (you might recognize her Botox-injected lips from our exhibit banners throughout L.A.) to Susan Anderson's toothy-smiled, Beauty, age 4, which greets visitors in the Space's entrance hallway - we see these women prepping for the show and competing as well.

But what happens after the contest?

In celebration of the Miss USA pageant's 60th anniversary, Time Magazine recently asked Anderson (who lectured at the Space and signed copies of her book, High Glitz, on June 16) to shoot portraits of 31 of its past winners.  These queens still have some set ideas about pageant culture.

Miriam (Stevenson) Breckenridge (Miss USA, 1954) now 78, told Time: "...you don't want to be thought of just as the beauty queen. People only remember me for being Miss USA and Miss Universe even all these years later."

Meanwhile, 75-year-old Myrna Hanson (Miss USA, 1953) weighed in on artificial beauty: "At that time, you didn't dare put any pads in your bathing suit, but now I look around and see silicone everywhere. I don't think young people need silicone any place, any time anywhere. It's what you do with what you've got that counts."

To see all of Andersen's portraits in the Time piece, click here.

If you haven't yet seen BEAUTY CULTURE, come see it now before it goes away in November!

Grace Jones is Chris Levine's 'Superstar'

For Grace Jones' 2009 "The Hurricane Tour," "Digital Darkroom" photographer Chris Levine designed an element of the show in which a laser shined at the lustrous Swarovski crystal-encrusted bowler hat the singer wore during her performance of "Love is the Drug." This created a surreal and magical effect on stage that mesmerized the audience. Levine recreated the moment for his stunning photograph of Jones, entitled Superstar, which is above,

Said Chris about the moment in the show: "I got the Royal Festival Hall (in London) to take all lights to black out when we did it first time. The laser coming directly down from above onto (her) crystal headpiece...the audience went wild. It was a magical moment-a kind of flash point. Grace was back! It has to be one of the best live shows I had ever seen by any artist. It was electrifying!"

Want to see for yourself how well Levine's design played out during the show? Then watch Jones' "electrifying" performance of the song in the clip below.

Bruce Hall and Corinne Marinnan open our eyes to Blind Photography!

Last night was our 30th IRIS Nights lecture!

We had two very special guest lecturers, Academy Award winning producer Corinne Marrinan and blind photographer Bruce Hall.

The subject of the evening was a short film directed by our own Neil Leifer, co-produced by Neil and Corinne, and featuring Bruce Hall along with two other blind photographers (Pete Eckert and Henry Butler) called "Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers."

I didn't know about blind photographers until I heard about this film. The subject matter was introduced in a very artful way in the film, through interviews with a number of well-known photographers talking about their skepticism or curiosity about how a blind person can even be a photographer.

Bruce and Corinne discussed the unique case of each of the three, as each of them has a different kind of blindness.

Peter Eckert lost his sight later in life, so he had a lifetime of 20/20 memories to draw on to create his ethereal, painterly images.


(photo by Peter Eckert)

Henry Butler has been completely blind since he was a baby, so his pictures arise out of his musical sense of timing and his connection to people he meets.


(photo by Henry Butler)

Bruce has been legally blind since birth - he has 5% of normal vision and can only see blurry shapes unless he brings something a few inches from his face...


(This is Bruce literally reading a note from his Doctor explaining his condition.)

...so he takes pictures with a sense of what he might be capturing, but then has to look at large prints of the images (or enlargements on his monitor) to even see what happened.

Corinne-who in her spare time has been a writer on CSI for the past few years- was completely charming and kept drawing great stories out of Bruce with her innocent-sounding questions.


(photo by Damon Webster)


Then we got to see more of Bruce's amazing underwater photography.

...including the one that Bruce said Neil Leifer loved of the glowing Garibaldi off the coast of Catalina Island...

Bruce then veered into his other work: his ongoing (life) project documenting life with his twin sons who are profoundly autistic.

This one is his favorite.

And that was a wrap!

What a great pair! Thank you so much for your Joie de Vivre Corinne!

And your wonderful work Bruce!

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

Ian Shive offers Water & Sky at the Space

We were sad to hear that our June 3rd lecturer, Christian Cravo, had to cancel due to schedule conflicts. Fortunately the very pleasant Ian Shive agreed to step into the fray and lecture instead.

There's much to know about Ian Shive. Perhaps his passing resemblance to Christian Slater - whom he probably encountered during his former years working in publicity at Columbia Pictures - is not on the top ten list, but there are a number of other influential factors from his personal life that have shaped his perspective and allowed his work to stand apart from the masses of landscape photography.

On Thursday night, Ian shared his work at the Space and how and why he creates the images that leave our jaws wagging.

From Coachella Valley to Croatia, Ian Shive has travelled the world as a conservation photographer, achieving countless awards and national recognition along the way.

His current body of work examines how our world interacts with the planet's most valuable but increasingly threatened resource water.

Ian shared his most memorable accounts documenting ceremonial gatherings of water around the Ganges River to everyday communal get-togethers in Krka River in Croatia.

Ian has only been a professional full-time photographer for the last three years, but has been shooting since childhood.

His award-winning book The National Parks: Our American Landscape was released in 2009 and he shared numerous images from it.

It's clear that even without the accolades Ian would still be out in the field capturing these fantastic images and serving as an advocate for our environment.

His work is truly from the heart and you can see it in every image.

After the lecture, Ian answered a few questions from the enthusiastic crowd.

...and even though he didn't bring copies of his book to sign, some fans brought copies of their own...

A gentleman and a scholar, that Ian Shive...and so polite too.

Thank you Ian!

(All images © Unique for the Space)

Extreme Exposure: Our Newest Exhibition Opens At The Space


Young and old came to celebrate the opening of "Extreme Exposure," the sixth at the Space!

This collection of images focuses on five photographers who journey to the most dangerous places on Earth to capture photographs that will simply blow you away.

Photographer Clyde Butcher was in attendance and so was one half of husband and wife volcanologist/photographer team Donna and Stephen O'Meara. Stephen O'Meara was unable to join the festivities because he was at home (on top of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii!) caring for the couple's dog, Daisy Duke (yup - that's probably the only time you will read 'home', 'volcano', 'dog', and 'Daisy Duke' in a single sentence!)

Here the two pose with Wallis Annenberg.

And here's guest curatorial adviser Cristina Mittermeier proudly showing off one of Paul Nicklen's stunning photos.

Annenberg Foundation Executive Director Leonard Aube took to the podium to help launch the "Extreme Exposure" IRIS Nights lecture series and also introduce...

...Clyde and Donna to the audience! Donna had a chance to say a few words to the large group of revelers...

...then Clyde followed with his unique Florida charm!

What's your most extreme experience? Visitors shared their own by writing on this white board at the Space. This little one is very young yet still had something to contribute!

Actress China Chow and MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch took in the great photography on our 7' x 14' hi-definition screen.
(photo by Stefanie Keenan for the Space)

Donna, ever so friendly, hangs out with staff members from the Space!

Here are some of the Annenberg folks who were responsible for making the launch party such a great success!


(photo by Stefanie Keenan for the Space)

Come to the Photo Space to witness the great lengths some will go to so to capture stunning photographs. There's no risk to you - our photographers have already taken care of the danger part for you!

And don't forget to check out the IRIS Nights lecture series related to Extreme Exposure. Click here for the schedule.

(All images by Unique for the Space except where noted)

Jill Greenberg Launches IRIS Nights, The BEAUTY CULTURE Version

Opening up the BEAUTY CULTURE season of IRIS Nights last night was award-winning photographer Jill Greenberg. Jill has shot for such magazines as Time, Wired, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly - the list really just goes on and on and on.

Jill has been taking photographs since she was a little girl. She showed us this adorable photo of herself holding a toy camera, portending things to come in her adult life!

Jill's photographic work has a strong feminist point of view. One of her series features the United States Olympic synchronized swim team wading in a swimming pool - all while wearing heels!

Jill has quite a bit of experience photographing some of Hollywood's most famous beauties. She's shot her signature style of portraits for a slew of female celebrities including Hollywood stars Drew Barrymore, Jada Pinkett Smith Lindsay Lohan (above).

Jill has found herself under criticism for her "End Times" series in which she photographed several two-and-a-half and three-year old crying children. During the shoot, Jill took candy away from the kids in order to make them cry.

Jill defended herself explaining that the toddlers's tears don't mean that they were in any sort of pain during the photo shoot or will have any kind of permanent damage. As she said, her own kids cry when they refuse to go to sleep at bed-time!

Jill's been photographing animals pretty often these days. She's taken portraits of bears, horses and monkeys. Art collectors all over the world have been buying up prints for her popular monkey series.

The local NBC affiliate in LA came down to cover the exhibit and interview Jill about her IRIS Nights lecture. You can watch that news clip here.

Thanks to Jill and everyone who attended the lecture for making the first BEAUTY CULTURE version of IRIS Nights such a big success!

Watch Jill's entire IRIS Nights lecture here and learn more about her on her own website.

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space. Childhood photo by Jill Greenberg)

Leonard Nimoy Beams Into IRIS Nights

The one and only Leonard Nimoy stepped up on stage at IRIS Nights last night. He wasn't here to talk about his acting career but to discuss his life as a highly respected photographer.

Introducing Nimoy at the lecture was New York Times Lens Blog writer James Estrin. The two are seen here chatting in the green room beforehand. Looks like they've become fast friends! Nimoy started the lecture by recounting a story about a time he was walking in Los Angeles with Tom Hanks. The two encountered a man who wanted to have his photo taken with Hanks. When Hanks asked who would take the picture, the man turned to Nimoy and said "Oh, Mr. Nimoy, you're a wonderful photographer. Can you take the picture?" Nimoy, who maintained such an enviable sense of humor throughout the lecture, joked that it was that story that gave him "street credibility" as a photographer. We think he had street cred long before then! Nimoy spoke at length about his photography, including one of his most well-known works, "The Full Body Project." He explains how he became involved with the women in the above photo, all members of the Fat Bottom Revue burlesque  group. Nimoy revealed that he does not do photojournalism. He prefers shooting projects in a controlled environment. Nimoy's "Secret Selves" was the first time he ever used color in his photography. "Secret Selves" focused on people bringing out their secret, hidden or fantasy selves to Nimoy and his camera. Nimoy is a very prolific photographer.  Apparently there are thousands of photos that he's taken which have yet to see the light of day. Personally, we can't wait to see more! Nimoy stuck around after his talk to sign copies of his books The Full Body Project for fans. Were you one of the lucky few to get him to sign a copy of the book? Nimoy's wife was in attendance last night. Here she is, on the left, posing with him in front of one of the first images visitors come across in the BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit, his most well-known photo from "The Full Body Project." After expressing his gratitude to the packed room for attending his lecture, he signed off with this very familiar quote: "live long and prosper!" Thanks for such a thoughtful, entertaining and enlightening lecture last night, Leonard! You can watch the lecture on our site by clicking here. (All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

Claudia Kunin On Her Debut At The Photography Space

by Claudia Kunin

I first visited the Annenberg Space for Photography during it's grand nighttime gala opening in March, 2009 and was truly wowed by its dedication to the exhibition of digital photography. Here was this eye-shaped gallery with gigantic digital displays in a darkened atmosphere. It was the first time I had ever seen a space like it. In fact, I don't think there is another like it in the world! For me, a dream was set in motion that night: I wanted to show my work in the Photography Space.

I didn't know how I would go about doing it.....as it seems that promoting one's own work is often times fruitless. It was in April of 2010 that I met Pat Lanza, the passionate genius, behind-the-scenes curator at the Annenberg Space for Photography, and she told me that my work would be perfect for an upcoming show she was putting together called "Digital Darkroom." Huzzah!

Now here I am, part of a fabulous group of 17 talented artists lighting up the walls at the Photography Space. Because I knew I was going to be part of the show, it inspired me to push myself further, beyond the technological boundaries I had previously been working in. I put my nose to the grindstone, learning how to animate my pieces so they could be projected at the Photography Space. I'm proud to say that my work will indeed be shown in that mysterious eye-shaped room - 3D animations and all. I am so very excited to have a long term goal come to fruition. Just another example of how the impossible can be made possible!

Claudia Kunin worked for years as a commercial photographer before experiencing a transformational moment and devoting her life to fine art photography. Her 3D photography is dedicated to exploring the past, making connections and expressing the inexpressible. See her work in "Digital Darkroom" which runs from December 17, 2011 - May 28, 2012.

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)

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