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.

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