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!

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)

Pages