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.

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!

"Burden of Thirst" with Lynn Johnson and special guest Jim Thebaut

Lynn Johnson, one of the featured photographers in our current exhibition, WATER: Our Thirsty World, was joined at the Space on Thursday by documentary filmmaker, Jim Thebaut.

The two environmental activists delivered a moving recount of the water crisis that included a blend of powerful imagery and stories of local heroes who act for change in their communities.

For what she describes as one of the most meaningful photographic works of her life, Lynn traveled on assignment for National Geographic to Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia to learn and document the stories of women and children and their struggle to gather water.

To find these stories, National Geographic partnered with WaterAid, an NGO nestled in the community - that has helped to implement responsible and sustainable solutions to overcome the crisis in these areas.

With the help of WaterAid, water committees made up of local constituents including women, have been established providing women the resources and education to organize and manage water and sanitation facilities.

Lynn's images depict the burden of water and the burden of violence as a connected conflict facing all women in these communities-

the sickness and disease experienced due to contaminated water and lack of hygiene education,

...inadequate human waste disposals due to water inaccessibility,

...and sexual violence and physical abuse due to long distance travels to find safe water.

While Lynn and Jim's lecture focused on the challenges of the water crisis,

it delivers a message of how individuals can create change with global impact right from their very own back yards.

To learn more about how you can create change visit WaterAid.com.

Recent Developments: Douglas Kirkland

"Recent Developments" is a new regular feature on the blog that will keep you up to speed on what's going on with photographers who have exhibited or lectured at the Space in the past. It will be a place where you can find out where work by these photographers is currently being exhibited and what new adventures they have embarked upon since we last saw them. We hope you enjoy reading these updates about our friends as much as we enjoy passing them along!

The first photographer in our "Recent Developments" update is Douglas Kirkland, who was featured in the Space's very first exhibition, L8S ANG3LES, a show that that included such iconic photos of his as the one of Marilyn Monroe above.

He was also our very FIRST IRIS Nights guest lecturer!

The famed photographer is having his first major retrospective in Australia, titled "Douglas Kirkland: A Life in Pictures," right now! All of our Aussie readers should rush over to Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art to check out.

Aside from Monroe, photos by Douglas of Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Stevie Wonder, Jack Nicholson, Andy Warhol, Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel and many others are included in the collection. Also, in what sounds like an astonishing addition, is a large set of photos taken on the set of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video. The exhibit closes on October 24.

You can listen to an informative interview with Douglas conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about the exhibit here.

Here's Douglas at the opening of our Space standing between our fearless leader, Wallis Annenberg, and L8S ANG3LES photographer Greg Gorman, along with other exhibiting photographers like (clockwise) Carolyn Cole, guest curator Anne Wilkes Tucker, Julius Shulman, Kirk McKoy, our Foundation co-director Gregory Annenberg Weingarten and Tim Street-Porter.

Keep checking back on the blog for more "Recent Developments!"

Spotted At The Space: Leonard Nimoy

Just days after the opening of BEAUTY CULTURE, Leonard Nimoy visited the Space to take in the featured images and also check out his own photos in the exhibit. He'll be back at the Space again later this year, this time to discuss his photography as part of our IRIS Nights lecture series. Thanks for stopping by, Leonard, and we'll see you in September!

Lauren Greenfield Returns To IRIS Nights

If you're one of the nearly 50,000 patrons who has visited Beauty Culture since its May opening, we're betting there's a good chance you've departed the Space electrified by filmmaker and featured photographer Lauren Greenfield's documentary of the same name. We were thrilled to learn more about Greenfield's career during her recent IRIS Nights lecture at the Photography Space, as well as the inspirations behind her photographic and filmed accomplishments.

Greenfield was all smiles as she and her husband (and documentary producer) Frank Evers, arrived at the Space. This was Greenfield's second IRIS Nights lecture. She was also part of the L8S ANG3LES lineup!

Just before showtime, IRIS Nights attendees wrapped themselves all the way through the exhibit hall anticipating the opening of our gallery seating for Greenfield's lecture.

One of Greenfield's first images in her retrospective was of Las Vegas showgirl Anne-Margaret. A note taped to the entertainer's mirror reads "I approve of myself." This is one of many Greenfield images involving women that address issues dealing with self-esteem and self-acceptance.

Greenfield also spoke about an image taken at a beauty pageant for southern belles. The photo captures the contestants in traditional gowns and poses, but juxtaposing these traditions--the girls also flash garter belts on all of their legs.

Greenfield talked the above image in which a young model walked down the street, while being ogled by three passing men - one of them a hard-hat wearing construction worker. While the audience laughed at Greenfield's retelling of the story behind the picture, she joked that we may be responding with the laughter, but the men's wives probably had a far less humorous response!

Greenfield's work obviously inspires much discussion with audience members and she was happy to address a number of questions from lecture attendees regarding the psychological and sociological issues behind her images.

Guest perused copies of Greenfield's best-selling and award-winning books including Girl Culture, Fast Forward and Thin before meeting her for a book-signing in our photography library.

Visitors had an incredible opportunity to chat one-on-one with Greenfield during the book signing.

Meanwhile, Evers engages guests in conversation while waiting in the book-signing queue.

Greenfield happily greeted fans as several photographers maneuver through the crowd to capture the best angle. Despite the often intense and emotional images that she captures, Greenfield and her fans had a delightful evening and we certainly did too! Thank you so much, Lauren!

You can watch the lecture on our site by clicking here.

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

The Space brings a little (Ken) Light to Town


Imagine photographing in complete darkness using a Hasselblad camera no auto focus, no fast film, with a single flash. Today this scenario would present quite the challenge but in 1982 it was the technique of photography and single best method for highly acclaimed photographer Ken Light.


Born in the Bronx, raised in East Meadows, NY- social photographer, organizer and filmmaker Mr. Light graced the stage at the Space and he brought the nostalgia of film and the great photographers of the past with him.


Covering his works of the last 40-years, Ken presented images of the 1970 Ohio State University riots, travels with President Nixon, race relations in Mississippi, to his current portfolio documenting the socioeconomic decline of California Central Valley.


He also discussed his now famous coverage of death row inmates and gave a nod to his recent court case with Current TV and Al Gore - where he sued for their unauthorized use of one of his images

...sadly the court sided with the other guy!

And of course as a professor and curator at the University of Berkley, Ken did not fail to mention the great traditions of American photography or its founders...


...giving shout outs to the great Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange, and Walker Evans and their work during the Great Depression. During the lecture, Ken explained that it is the duty of every generation of photographers to reexamine the same issues of the past so these issues don't go ignored.

In other words, New School meet the Old School


and don't forget the R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

After answering questions from the audience, Ken autographed books in the ASP Reading Room.

Thank you Professor Light! Very illuminating!

(All pictures © Unique for the Space)

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