Maisel makes your mind spin with Black Maps

Not many of our guest lecturers visit the Space to present a collection of images focusing on environmentally-polluted sites and then disassociate their work from the larger effort of global advocacy...especially in regards to our world's water crisis.

But in the case of New York-born Princeton and Harvard grad David Maisel, when it comes to his photography, his work neither represents answers to a conflict nor offers any resolution other than a sense of poetic truth.

...if this is your position David, then thou ART as wise as thou ART beautiful!

Maisel's aerial photographs of sites where the natural ecological order has been eradicated are images of a stunning atrocity.

At first glance, you see a brilliant photograph of splattered colors,

but upon further examination, the photo actually depicts a man-made sea of toxic minerals destroying our environment.

A bittersweet presentation, Maisel's work - titled Black Maps  - is a visually emotional creation that does more than just leave an impression...

...it speaks to the soul.

If you missed the lecture, this is unfortunately one time when you won't be able to watch it online.

However, we will be posting an audio file and a transcript,

as well as a gallery of more photos.

But you must see the work...

...it's truly unique.

Afterward, David was extremely genial and approachable.

He answered questions, chatted with guests...

...signed some copies of his book Oblivion ...

then bid us all goodbye and good night.

(All photos © 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)

National Geographic's Griffin packs the Space!

Over the course of the current exhibition's IRIS Nights lecture series, we've had an incredible opportunity to get to know and love the staff of one of our favorite magazines - National Geographic .

The behind-the-scenes stories of how NatGeo  photographers capture those unparalleled moments of our changing world almost rivals the wonder of viewing the photographs published in the magazine.

So it comes as no surprise that our final executive guest lecturer from National Geographic , Director of Photography David Griffin...

...was greeted by a VERY full house last Thursday at the Space.

David delivered that sought-after narrative, bringing us inside National Geographic  and answered questions from the audience including the ultimate...how to become a National Geographic  photographer?

Wallis Annenberg, Neil Leifer,

Lauren Greenfield,

and Michael Robinson Chávez

were all in attendance at the Space for David's lecture and multimedia presentation.

Along with the first-hand stories from the front lines,

David brought video footage and behind-the-scenes stills of NatGeo  photographers chasing the moments,

capturing the extraordinary,

and covering over 100 years of published issues.

The lecture was at times funny,

at times frightening,

at times instructive,

and all in all, totally awe-inspiring.

Thank you David Griffin!

(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)

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)

Michael Nichols: A Southern Gentleman Braves A Dangerous World

Michael "Nick" Nichols, one of the five featured photographers in Extreme Exposure, popped on over to the Space last night to present his IRIS Nights lecture. The award-winning National Geographic photographer gave one of the most passionate and energetic talks we've seen in awhile!

There was no way to escape the Alabama native's energy as he leapt from one side of the screen to the other relating story after story about the images that flashed in front of the audience.

The sold-out lecture was standing room only and Nick won over each and every single one of them with his affable Southern charm.

Nick spent a good chunk of time talking about the stitched together image of a giant Redwood tree in Northern California he shot for National Geographic. Click here to read a riveting personal essay written by Nick about his experience photographing the tree.

Nick has gone through a lot just to get the perfect shot. Not everyone can say they've had an elephant charge at them but Nick has!

One way to avoid some of the dangerous situations in nature is to set up so-called "trip trap" cameras, something that Nick has perfected over the years. The image above was shot using such a camera. You couldn't get such a shot without one!

Nick has come close to death more than once but explained that this is just part of the job.

Many of Nick's National Geographic friends showed up to hear his lecture, including the Space's own Pat Lanza (2nd from left).

A job very well done, Nick! It's not everyday we get a lecturer as energetic as you were last night. Come back anytime!

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

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Recent Developments - Michael Nichols releases iPad App!


Word came around to us that one of our featured photographers from EXTREME EXPOSURE is moving from the jungle to your iPad...seriously.

Most photography iPad apps so far have focuses on managing pictures, manipulating pictures, organizing photoshoots (timing them, producing them and even invoicing and getting model releases!). There is definitely a different target audience (with a very different skill set) than with iPhone apps (you say Hipstamatic, I say TiltShift Generator).

And then, of the growing number of photography 'fan' apps, most have been "iVersions" of publications. None of the rare apps that focus on the work of a single photographer have the depth and breadth as Mike's - extensive photogalleries, behind the scenes videos and access to more than 20 years of his work.

We can't help but take pride in one of our exhibitors - who is known for his long treks in the remote corners of the world's jungles - taking the lead in new technologies.

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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