Karen Kasmauski: A Born Observer

Karen Kasmauski came to our IRIS Nights lecture last night and explained to us why she does what she does. "I was born an observer," she told those in attendance. An observer, yes, but also a storyteller.

While trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, she said that she settled on photography as a way to tell stories. The former newspaper photojournalist's only formal training in the field was what she describes as a life-long thirst to learn more about other people's lives.

In college, a palm reader predicted Karen would pursue a career in medicine. Obviously, that prediction didn't come true.

Still, maybe that palm reader was on to something. Over the course of her career, Karen has done several stories on health and medicine.

It was these stories that placed in her in some of the greatest danger. During one story about radiation, she was unknowingly contaminated with radiation after eating reindeer and moose meat from Sweden that was contaminated from the Chernobyl disaster.

Karen shared the story behind an amazing image of a survivor from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. During the shoot, this man, who was severely burned, asked her if she would be interested in seeing the charred and tattered jacket he was wearing on the day the bomb was dropped. She responded with a resounding "yes!" What a profound story in a simple yet powerful image.

Not only were Karen's many colleagues in attendance during last night's IRIS Nights lecture but so was her family. Here she is with her proud husband and daughter.

Great job, Karen! We can't wait to hear more of your observations in the future!

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

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Everything Is Beauty: Lecture With Fadil Berisha

What a treat it was to have fashion photographer Fadil Berisha present during our IRIS Nights lecture series yesterday evening.

Fadil has had a global influence throughout his career. He has not only worked with such figures as Tyra Banks, President Bill Clinton, Snoop Dogg and numerous Miss America contestants, but he also played an incredible role in campaigning against the Kosovo massacres.

During his presentation, Fadil explained that his work stems from a genuine love for beauty.

"Beauty is what I really love... I like to live happy and see pretty things all the time. With photographers it has to do with how they feel on the inside and that's what comes out on the photo," proclaimed Fadil during the lecture. "I love to feel happy."

Fadil took a moment during his lecture to speak about his experience photographing the horrific war in Kosovo. Since the topic wasn't related to beauty itself he placed his visual slideshow on pause because he felt it was important to take some time to talk about his experiences with the conflict.

About 10 years ago Albanian photographers contacted Fadil asking him to help promote their cause in the Kosovo war. He told the audience that the pictures they sent him changed his life. He then spent the next couple years raising money and campaigning for awareness. His work and the photos he took made an international impact and helped pressure the United States to get involved.

Fadil told the audience about his first time working with the stunning Carmen Dell'Orefice, the legend who was his inspiration for a Rolex campaign. He said he fell in love when he realized how she stayed young at heart and continued to exude beauty throughout her whole life.

Fadil also gave shout-outs to models Beverly Johnson and Nikki Haskell, who were both in attendance. He raved about how they each possessed that same confidence and beauty he found so alluring in Carmen.

Johnson took the microphone during the Q & A session but she didn't have a question for Fadil. Instead, she took the time to praise the photography by calling him "brilliant" and telling the audience she could not wait to work with him again.

Thanks for an outstanding lecture, Fadil! For more information about him, check out his official website. You can also watch his IRIS Nights lecture online.

(All lecture images by Unique)

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)

George Steinmetz Documents The World From The Sky

Those of you who suffer from acrophobia may want to proceed with caution while reading the rest of this blog post. That's because the breathtaking images of the world's deserts you're about to see have been taken by last night's IRIS Nights lecturer, photographer George Steinmetz, from high up in the sky...

...on board his own motorized para-glider!

As George explained to the audience, for him to really understand the desert, he needed to get high above the ground. His para-glider is lightest powered aircraft in the world.

His method of photography is certainly not all that safe. He shared a photo of himself that showed injuries he'd received when his glider once crashed during take-off in China. Several busted teeth and 17 stitches didn't stop him from getting back into the pilot's seat!

George told the audience that he has always been a very curious man. The camera is his excuse to explore the world and share his knowledge with the rest of the world.

Don't just think that the deserts are located in hot climates. George gave us all a geography lesson by reminding us that Antarctica, which he has beautifully documented with his own camera, is the largest and driest desert on the planet!

Stropping by to hear George's lecture was his friend Art Streiber, a very talented photographer in his own right.

But George's most important visitor last night was his own mother who watched him with great pride throughout the entire lecture.

Congrats on a great talk, George! Fly safely!

Click here to watch George's IRIS Nights lecture online. For more information about him, visit his official website.

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Spotted At The Space: Eden Wood

Spotted at the Space this past weekend were more notables taking in BEAUTY CULTURE. Philip Seymour Hoffman and 15-year-old wunderkind fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson all stopped by to take in the exhibition as did 6-year-old Eden Wood, who was featured in the accompanying digital feature film.

Stay tuned for more spottings!

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)

Mark Moffett And His Adventures Among Ants

One of the featured photographers in "Extreme Exposure", Nick Nichols, has been rightfully nick-named "The Indiana Jones of Photography," so it's only natural that we include the so-called "Indiana Jones of Entomology" as part of the exhibit's IRIS Nights lecture series. Mark Moffett has been photographing ants and other insects for the magazine for years.

During his lecture last night, Mark delivered what could be described as a science and photography lesson - one with his characteristic flair for engaging and intelligent humor. He had the audience in stitches!

The Space is just one of the many places in which Mark regularly finds himself speaking in front of a large audience. He lectures to thousands of people across the country and has even appeared on The Colbert Report and Conan O'Brien's show. That's certainly no ant-sized audience!

Mark's sense of humor mixed with education kept those in attendance roaring with laughter throughout the entire lecture. His story of how he once photographed a frog boogie down (a la a disco-era John Travolta) led to a re-enactment of the dance for the entire audience! For more about that particular story, read this piece about his lecture on The Huffington Post.

After his presentation, Mark signed copies of his book, Adventures Among Ants. The book as entertaining to read as it is hearing him speak. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy for yourself.

Here's a nice shot of Mark with his partner in life, his wife Melissa Wells. Check out some gorgeous pictures from their unorthodox and charming wedding on Easter Island here.

Watch the first few minutes of Mark's IRIS Nights lecture here and learn more about him at his appropriately named site, doctorbugs.com.

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Poetic Photography: Lecture With Paul Lange

IRIS Nights lecturer Paul Lange - pictured here in front of his stunning picture of Venus Williams - gave an impressive presentation on the art and technique of photography last night.

Some of the photos on the screen looked more like paintings or digitally constructed portraits then the straight film or digital photography which they truly are. But as Lange pointed out, that was his goal. He manipulated the photos during exposure in-camera by simply experimenting with chemical processing methods.

"A photo is not just a model posing. I want my photographs to be like paintings," said Lange. "I want them to be long living."

He even went into detail explaining how a photo could be double exposed, cross processed or dye transferred - terms that had all the non-photographers struggling to keep up.

"It's fun just playing with the rules. They work more often then they don't work so the key is to just try it," said Lange in reference to his experimental work.

Lange's diverse career led him to the world of fashion, photographing top models and celebrities from around the globe. He combined his fine art training with the fashion staples of good hair, makeup and perfect lighting to create his unique and polished style. Lange still creates all of his photographs in-camera and does not digitally alter them in post-production.

Lange explained that digital filters don't have the poetry that film does. "There is a translucent quality that you get by chance with film..." said Lange passionately, "otherwise it is too uniform."

Lange kept coming back to ideas of mystery, chance, passion and poetry relying on the imagery of a 'paint-like quality' to describe his photographic style.

His unique photographs were not the sole reason this night was different from our other lectures; last night was also the first time the Annenberg Space for Photography held two lectures by a photographer in one evening.

The night was so successful that we hope to do more double-header lectures in the future, giving our guests twice the opportunity to attend!

Thank you Paul Lange for giving two lovely presentations!

(All lecture photos by Unique for the Space)

Stanley Greene Stamps His "Black Passport" at the Space

Stanley Greene represents a dwindling number of photographers honored for their work with traditional film photography. Yet unlike many legendary film photographers who refuse to convert to digital, Stanley has not only learned to appreciate the winning aspects of digital photography but is currently celebrating a positive response to a YouTube trailer to promote his new photo book: Black Passport.

Black Passport is a stark collection of Greene's images made only more powerful by their collection into this striking trailer. When Stanley showed this clip at the Space on the giant 7' x 14' screens - the reaction was powerful and palpable.

We were blown away.

Stanley is not exactly a huge fan of digital film and its online video complement (which he called 'the youTUBE") - it was clear throughout his presentation that he will always prefer traditional film photography.

He name-checked Kathryn Bigelow and sang her praises for using traditional film to shoot "Hurt Locker," and also added that - to his client's dismay - his next year-long project is set to be shot solely on film.

In his presentation, Stanley acknowledged the challenges facing photographers who prefer film in a digital society, but made it clear that he welcomed the fight to preserve and continue the use of film.

The lecture was much more than just a "film vs. digital" debate. Stanley shared images and discussed the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the recent earthquake in Haiti.

His images were bold and evocative.

Stanley brought a casual air of cool to the podium - giving his presentation like he was having a conversation with friends. He had a fluid quality to his speech and gestures that brought to mind a musician soloing at the front of a darkened stage.

The Q&A was as interesting as the presentation.

Afterwards, Stanley held court and autographed copies of "Black Passport."

He even made that into something special to witness...

Thank you Mr. Greene for giving us so much to think and 'travel' on!

BTW - the same day as Mr. Greene graced our Space he was lauded and loved on the pages of the NY Times Lens Blog in an entry titled "Stanley Greene's Redemption and Revenge." Go and read more about him!

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)

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