Kitra Cahana - Mature Work From A Young Photojournalist

Yesterday we were host to Kitra Cahana, the photographer whose powerful portraits of nomadic youth became our street banners for the current exhibit "The Year".

We all have Kitra Cahana's father to thank for encouraging her interest in photography starting at a very young age. Last night, Kitra described to the audience at IRIS Nights how, as a young teen, he would ask her to capture her emotions with a camera.

Amazingly, Kitra's never had any kind of formal training in photography - going out and photographing the world was her only education in the medium. Talk about being born with a keen eye!

Kitra's professional career began at the very young age of 17 when one of her photographs covering the Israeli Disengagement of Gaza made the front page of the New York Times. A few years later, she would go from the pages of the Times to their physical offices where she ended up as an intern with the paper.

One advantage of photodocumenting dangerous conflicts in places like Gaza and the Congo at a young age, is that you may not realize how much your life is in jeopardy while in these situations.

Kitra revealed that the danger aspect of the job never crosses her mind! This kind of wide-eyed invincibility might be what helps Kitra produce such riveting pictures from around the globe.

In attendance were several members of the Rainbow Family, whom she featured in her popular Rainbowland series.

It's nice to see that she's remained friendly with some of her photo subjects!

Kitra's talents don't lie exclusively in photography. During the lecture, she read some of her own poems inspired by and created from her still images.

Kitra explained that she uses poetry to create a more comprehensive body of work and intends to continue to explore the marriage of different artistic mediums in future projects.

Such great insight into the mind of an incredible natural. And to think, Kitra still has many more decades of work ahead of her!

Can't wait to see more!

For more information about Kitra and her projects, visit her official Website.

(All images © Unique for the Space - except iPhone photo of the Street Banners)

Donna O'Meara: Make Your Own Dreams Come True

Donna O'Meara is the last "Extreme Exposure" featured photographer to participate in our IRIS Nights elcture series. You may remember that her husband (and fellow volcanologist) Stephen O'Meara was the very first lecturer for the exhibit. Donna delivered a terrific, inspirational lecture about volcanoes, passion and the journey of life.

Donna, who lives on top of Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, started her lecture by reciting a traditional Hawaiian thank you chant - a first at IRIS Nights.

She showed the audience photos from her wedding to Stephen, which took place on top of Kilauea. You can't tell in the photo above, but they both wore sneakers during ceremony - just in case they needed to run for their lives!

Donna recounted the time when National Geographic first hired her and Stephen for a photo shoot. The magazine let them choose the volcano they wanted to photograph. The two eventually decided on one located in Stromboli, Italy where they camped out for 39 days and survived 534 eruptions.

This expedition led to her and Stephen's own National Geographic television special titled Volcano Hunters!

Donna's theme of accomplishing what you want no matter the obstacle carried over to her story about her journey to Antarctica in 2009. It was on that trip that she met Barbara Jones, the 94-year-old only living child of Edward Nelson, the explorer who was part of the first official British exploration of Antarctica.

Donna became close to Barbara during the trip. She explained that she had always wanted to see the place where her father worked on the continent. Tragically, Barbara passed away during the trip.

Donna's volcanologist boots have been on display during the entire run of "Extreme Exposure." She said that even though she has a new pair, she wants her old ones back because they are so comfortable.

Donna ended her talk with words of inspiration and encouragement. No matter how old you are, make sure your dreams come true!

She stuck around to sign copies of the several books on volcanoes she has written over the years.

Thanks for the motivational talk, Donna. And don't worry,  your boots are on their way back to your home in Hawaii!

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

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space. All others are by Donna O'Meara)

Beltra Offers First IRIS Nights Lecture for WATER Exhibit

Daniel Beltra kicked off the IRIS Nights Lecture series for the WATER: OUR THIRSTY WORLD exhibit last night with a wake-up call of a lecture.

A very soft-spoken but decidedly NOT timid man, Daniel took us on a virtual tour through the hills of Patagonia, Alaska, the Ross Sea and the Amazon Rain Forest.

Through the process he was able to address glaciers shrinking, ice caps melting,

animals being threatened with extinction,


drought,


flooding,

logging,

mining,

massive fires


and all the other fun stuff you'd expect to hear about on a Thursday night out.

It was pretty intense stuff - A perfect match for our current exhibit.

Thank you, Daniel, for a great launch.

(All photos © Unique for the Space)

IRIS Nights Proudly Hosts Katie Falkenberg's First Lecture

We first met Katie Falkenberg during last year's POYi exhibit when her "Sugarcane Worker" portrait had just been honored by the acclaimed photojournalism contest. Her work is featured again in the current exhibit and this time she made sure to come out and speak at IRIS Nights. You wouldn't know it based on how at ease she was in front of the audience, but last night's IRIS Nights talk was the first time Katie had ever given a lecture. What a natural! She displayed an immensely charming presence and a warm smile that captivated the audience the entire evening. Katie divided her lecture into two halves, dedicating each part to a specific photography project. The first half focused on her series of photographs about domestic violence in Pakistan titled "In The Name of Honor." Shockingly, 70-90% of women in Pakistan are victims of domestic violence and Katie's moving images helped shed light on their stories.  Her series "Mountaintop Removal" tells of the drastic effects Mountaintop coal mining has on certain communities in Kentucky. At the end of the evening, a still smiling Katie shared more about her work by graciously spending time answering questions from those who came out to hear her speak. We're honored to have hosted your first lecture, Katie. You did a great job! We hope to see you speak again at the Space very soon! For more information about Katie visit <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.katiefalkenbergphotography.com/" href="http://www.katiefalkenbergphotography.com/" "target="_blank">her official Website. (All images by Unique for the Space)

Coming To The Space This Summer: BEAUTY CULTURE!

The Space has been open for over two years now and our seventh exhibition will be here sooner than you think - May 21st to be exact. We couldn't be more excited!

BEAUTY CULTURE is a photographic exploration of how feminine beauty is defined, challenged and revered in modern society. The exhibition will include images from some of the most highly respected and world-renowned photographers in the beauty and fashion world.

© Felicia Webb

BEAUTY CULTURE will feature 170 images in our print show and over 500 in the digital one - one of our largest shows ever!

Quick note: Keep in mind that BEAUTY CULTURE does include graphic images, such as those of explicit medical procedures and nudity, and may not be appropriate for all ages.

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!

Balazs Gardi returns to the Space

POYi winner Balazs Gardi, who was one of the featured photographers in the 66th POYi Exhibit last year, returned to the Space to present an insightful and heartfelt lecture on marginalized communities facing water crisis.

Balazs, whose works are mostly independent, started his presentation with his images documenting conflict situations in Afghanistan. His presentation also covered communities experiencing water related crisis in Australia, Dubai and even Las Vegas.

Balazs is known for using photography as a base but layering it in way that reaches out to people. His unique presentation was a multimedia feature that included audio, still images and motion graphics.

At the end of the lecture, Balazs shared his views on modern social utilities, such as Twitter, as an independent voice and alternative to traditional media outlets. Social media is a new way for like minded people to share experiences on water related issues that won't appear in traditional media sources.

The lecture was followed by some very pointed and interesting questions from the audience, fielded by an unflappable Balazs.

Despite the gravity of the discussion, the lecture was well balanced with fear, hope and even some humor.

One question in particular focused on the frustration of solving the problem of water crisis and whether an actual solution exists.

Balazs answered very adamantly with "I think every problem has an answer to it...

...I am a very optimistic person with a lot of cynicism."

(All Photos © Unique for the Space)

Francine Orr: The Listening Comes First

This is what Francine Orr revealed early on in her IRIS Nights talk: "photojournalism is my passion." The LA Times photographer showed just how much she cares about the people she photographs by giving an awfully touching and moving lecture.

The first series of photographs in Francine's presentation focused on her documentation of people in Africa who live on just pennies a day. She told the audience that she had a hard time talking to people suffering from poverty but spoke to them anyway due to a strong urge to tell their stories.

Francine spent a bit of time talking about one photo in particular, that of a wide-eyed African woman named Margaret who was dying of HIV.

She described the moment she convinced Margaret's children to allow her to photograph their mother. She told them that the haunting image would tell the world her story and in turn this would help others.

Francine uttered several fervent soundbites during the lecture. One of our favorites was "Poverty sucks!"

Orr has spent a large amount of her career ensconced in dangerous places all over the world. She recounted one story about a time when she was in Africa and suspected her "fixer," the man she hired to protect/translate for her, planned to rob her of her expensive camera equipment.

She remembered how she'd been told by others in her field to go with her instincts. One morning, she wisely ditched him and went out on her own for the rest of her trip.

Francine also went into detail about how she befriended several homeless people she documented who live under the 7th Street Bridge in LA.

During the presentation of her final slideshow, Francine held a brave 7-month old baby boy who is the subject of a story to be published in an upcoming edition of the LA Times - a truly touching moment. That night he became the youngest person to go up on our IRIS Nights stage!

When asked by an audience member if she records interviews with her subjects before she starts photographing them, or shoots them first and then interviews them, Orr responded that's it's neither. For her, the listening comes first. When dealing with a story, she says, "the number one thing I try to do is listen." Quite a statement for a photographer.

Her two years working for the Peace Corps, on the island of Yap in Micronesia, was where she said she really learned to listen. She taught in a school there with no electricity, no outside communication except for visiting documentary film crews and anthropologists. Gathering around oil lanterns at night the Yapese people would share stories with her and each other...with not a single distraction. One of her former students from Yap - now living in the US - recently found her on Facebook and came to the lecture with a sister in tow!

Thanks, Francine, for sharing such moving and inspiring stories. We hope to hear more of them in the future!

For more information about Francine visit her upcoming official Website.

We at the Space are very excited to bring you videos of IRIS Nights lectures in a more timely manner. Click here to watch Francine's lecture online!

(All images by Unique for the Space)

BEAUTY CULTURE: Opening Gala Event

Last night, the Annenberg Space for Photography hosted the opening gala for our newest exciting exhibit BEAUTY CULTURE, an event which represented beauty in many different forms. Here are photographers Paul Lange and Tyen starting their initial tour of the exhibit.

Hundreds of party-goers enjoyed the photography inside and outside of the Space amidst a crowd filled with photographers, celebrities, supermodels and everyone in between.

Annenberg Foundation Executive Director Leonard Aube took to the stage to thank all of the photographers whose work is included in the exhibit, such as the three of the four featured photographers; Tyen, Melvin Sokolsky and Lauren Greenfield. The fourth featured photographer in our exhibit - Albert Watson - unfortunately couldn't make the party. He was definitely missed!

One of the highlights of the evening was a special surprise performance from burlesque beauty Dita Von Teese. At the start of her show, Dita emerging from a giant sparkling compact!

Her act, which wowed the guests, brings back glamour from a bygone era in a big way.

Supermodels Gisele and Alek Wek, both featured in photographs in BEAUTY CULTURE, looked twice as stunning standing next to one another.

Annenberg Foundation Chairman, President and CEO Wallis Annenberg excitedly greeted featured photographer Tyen at the event. It was Wallis's initial vision that made the Space available to the public.

Actress Sophia Bush takes in the iconic Herb Ritts photo that greets guests at the entrance to the exhibit.

Lawrence Ho, who was one of the 11 featured photographers in our inaugural exhibit L8S ANG3LES, seen here with fellow guest and "Pictures of the Year International" contributor (and recent Pulitzer Prize winner!) Barbara Davidson.

Photo Space Talent & Content Director, Patricia Lanza, is seen here with Matthew Rolston, who has several of his images in BEAUTY CULTURE.

Two Hollywood beauties: Halle Berry and Katie Holmes.

Photographer Susan Anderson poses in front of one of her photographs. Those of you who live in Los Angeles may have seen this image all over the city as it is as part of our street banner campaign.

Melvin stands in front of one of his images of model Peggy Moffitt.

Moffitt was at the event and posed alongside Alek Wek: beauties from two different generations!

Exhibit consultant Manon Slome poses inside of the Space.

Lauren chats with "The Pink Lady," the subject of several of her photos and one of the people interviewed for the BEAUTY CULTURE digital feature.

Thanks to everyone for a terrific celebration of this great new exhibit. BEAUTY CULTURE runs now through November 27. Come see it and find out what beauty means to you!

All images by Chris Weeks.

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