Make Me Beautiful


Matthew Rolston, an icon in fashion photography, came to entertain us at the IRIS Nights lecture yesterday. He also brought his long time friend, journalist Merle Ginsberg. Her questions and insight into Matthew's work helped reveal exciting information about his unique body of work.

Rolston confessed that he didn't see himself as simply a photographer or director but rather an 'idea' person, wanting to extend his talents into all areas of the creative world.

Rolston also explained his process of creation as collaborative and told stories of working with Anna Nicole Smith or Christina Aguilera. Aguilera actually came to him a year in advance in order to plan a photo idea for her upcoming album release.


Rolston then provided insight to his role in the industry and his vision for expanding the cannon of beauty. "For me photography is worship." said Rolston, "Human desire is about genetics - survival. The things we consider to be beautiful...go to the core of survival."

In a surprise turn of events the two guest speakers invited the entire audience to join them in a drink, outside on the plaza at our first IRIS Nights complimentary cocktail party.

Needless to say it was a glamorous night out with the Annenberg Foundation and two hundred of Rolston's closest brand new friends

Thank you Mr. Rolston for a lovely evening.

Spotted at the Space: Ted Danson & Mary Steenburgen

Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen stopped by the Space last night to take in last night's IRIS Nights lecture, which was presented by their pal (and featured Who Shot Rock & Roll photographer) Guy Webster. Look for his lecture to be added to our past lecture videos page in the very near future!

Photo by Unique Nicole for the Space

Rickman Rocked!

Who's Afraid of Getting Old? Not Rick Rickman or his subjects!

© Unique for the Photo Space - Rick Rickman

Last night Rick Rickman pulled back the veil on a "senior underground - a movement that few know about and little has been written about. It's the venue in which people over 60 are enjoying the aging experience by keeping themselves enthusiastically engaged in life itself."

His infectious enthusiasm and personal stories about the geri-athletes he profiles were the perfect mix. Rick even brought along some of his subjects, including senior surfer Eve Fletcher - who at 83 years is still catching the waves!

© Unique for the Photo Space - Rickman and Eve Fletcher - senior surfer

Apparently Rick hangs ten with Eve a few mornings a week and she cuts him NO slack....

© Unique for the Photo Space - Rickman with photo of Eve Fletcher

She was similarly feisty in the Q&A that followed the lecture - for us she was the poster girl of the lecture.

© Unique for the Photo Space - Rickman and Fletcher
Rick also had on hand a couple of prize winning weight lifters named Bill Cunningham and Jane Hesselgesser whose physiques were in perfect form...and they were well past retirement age.

© DS for the Photo Space - Rick with image of Bill and Jane
Holy Jack LaLane!

The list went on as did the expectation-challenging images. Senior synchronized swimmers, shot-putters and Iron Man competitors!

© DS for the Photo Space - Senior Synchronized Swimmers

© DS for the Photo Space - Senior Shot Putter

Apparently one Rick's subjects, Sister Madonna Buder (not pictured here) finished Iron Man (26 mile run 10 mile swim and 100 mile bike tournament) 22 TIMES - once with broken ribs, elbow and shoulder!

Just when we thought we couldn't see something new at the Photo Space - it came wrapped in the package of something old...amazing athletes with an amazing life perspectives captured by an amazing photographer.

© Unique for the Photo Space - Rick Rickman greeting guests
Thank you Rick Rickman.

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)

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!"

Intoxicating Beauty

It was an incredible privilege to go to Andrew Southam's IRIS Nights lecture at the Annenberg Space for Photography. Southam, an Australian born beauty photographer, spoke with such genuine humility and introspection that it was hard not to fall in love him and his work.

He had such a sweet demeanor that when Southam admitted to a lifelong obsession with female beauty and being 'intoxicated by the fun of it all', the audience seemed to beam.

Throughout his talk Southam illustrated remarkable self-awareness describing himself as a "boy who spent his life, quite literally, on one knee in front of beauty."

He even opened up about sometimes feeling flustered in front of such direct sexuality.

But the core of his honesty was exposed when describing June Browne Newton and her husband Helmut Newton. Southam revered Helmut and became friends with June Newton after her husband's death. She continues to profoundly impact his life and his professional career to this day.

Southam also answered how and why questions regarding his famous techniques. "I am a student of lighting," confessed Southam when describing how he avoided using Photoshop or digital enhancing mechanisms.

"I always wanted to make my subjects look beautiful. I like people to look like they would on their best day," Southam explained when asked why he developed his unique style.

The sincerity of the lecture had the audience complimenting and thanking Southam for such a wonderful job. But, at the end of the day, he confessed that his main desire is to stay true to himself.

"You can only be who you are," said Southam in a statement to sum up the evening. And for both the aspiring photographers and non-photographers, it was probably his best piece of advice.

After the lecture Southam mingled with the crowd including his friends and peers, Joe Pugliese and Art Streiber.

For more information on Andrew Southam and his new photo series click here

Announcing The No Strangers IRIS Nights Lecture Lineup

Our first IRIS Nights lecture for no strangers takes place this upcoming Saturday, the same day that the exhibit opens. This sold-out debut lecture will feature the amazing Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher.

We've just released the full list of presentation for this very popular series. Click here to see that list, which includes Chris Rainier, Bonnie Folkin, Caroline Bennett and Aaron Huey.

We expect the lecture series to conitune to be popular so  reserve your free spot as soon as tickets are released. You don't want to miss out on these great talks!

Lucy Nicholson makes it seem so fun!

Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space
On Thursday the amazing Lucy Nicholson - senior staff photographer at Reuters - graced our Space with her lilting British accent, her light-hearted sense of humor and an incredible presentation.

Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space
From a short film about how an organization the size of Reuters shoots a big event to her own riveting photos, Lucy gave us a lot of rich content from a unique perspective to consider.
Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009  © Unique for the Space
Seeing what goes into what we end up seeing online (around the world) was a real eye-opener. Once again we learned at the feet of a master (matrix?).

Lucy even gave a breakdown of the elements that go into Sport photography and discussed the importance of all the different factors...very helpful!

Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space

She also let us see some of her non-sports portfolio. Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space

Lucy was so down-to-earth and accessible...

Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space

Long after the Q&A was over Lucy hung around talking with lecture guests, friends and fans...

Lucy Nicholson, December 17, 2009 © Unique for the Space

Thank you for rounding out an amazing year of lecture Lucy!
Happy Holidays everyone!

Camille Seaman brings timeless wisdom to the Space

"...the Earth is not just our mother - we are made of this..." Camille Seaman said as she loaded up her first slide.

"None of us were born in space or on another planet - so everything that went into creating us came from this planet. And this planet is made from pieces of exploding stars...all of the metals that form the core of our planet - the metals that we mine and adorn our bodies with come from exploding stars."

"...we are made of stars..."

This was only the start of Camille Seaman's lecture at The Space yesterday, as she took us along on her personal journey (tagged onto the end of the story of creation!) to becoming a National Geographic  award-winning photographer.


Admitting that she was, by both nature and heredity, a bit of a storyteller, she proceed to tell us the story of her travels and growth as a photographer.

Camille played a slideshow of her current portfolio. Her soft-spoken voice only enhanced the boldness of her storytelling and photographic work documenting the fragile environment of the North and South Pole regions.

Her images are as courageous as they are beautiful.

Camille's life and work is inspirational and the peace, scale and calmness of her photography is thrilling.


After viewing her portfolio on the huge digital screen (a size perfectly suited for a subject so enormous), and following her unfolding of her perspective from having visited the vast openness of the planet's poles multiple times,


you couldn't help but to leave the presentation last night loving the earth just a little bit more than you did before.

At the end of the night she raffled off some prints to raise funds and awareness about her next (and last) visit to the Arctic, weaving the guests into her personal story of documenting the fragile extremes of our planet.


Thank you Camille for spreading the earth love!

(All photos © Unique for the Space)

Renee Byer: A Photographer's Journey

Last night, Renee Byer took the stage at our IRIS Nights to discuss photos that ranged in topics from the economy to prostitution to serious illness. Renee had a refreshingly down-to-earth personality and a strong desire to enlighten as many people as possible about these subjects... subjects which she clearly feels very strongly about.

The first series of photos she presented focused on the difficulties faced by those affected by unemployment in California.

Included in this collection is a photo (above) of California Governor Arnold Schwazenegger, who found himself stuck in the middle of the state's job crisis. Renee has photographed him several times and found him to be someone who really wanted to make a difference in the state. She described how she loves this picture primarily due to the tension seen in his hands.

Renee shifted her talk to people in Ghana who, though they had jobs, were forced to work in a toxic environment at an e-waste recycling facility. She told us how she became fascinated with one girl there who suffered from malaria. The girl, no doubt sensing Renee's warmth and compassion, wanted to come back home with her.

One of the most heart-breaking moments of the night came when Renee discussed a series of photos devoted to a brothel in Bangladesh that employed young girls, many of whom had no other choice but to enter the oldest profession. Renee confessed that if she won the lottery tomorrow, she would return to the South Asian country and free all of them. After listening to her speak, there's no doubt in our minds that she would!

Renee explained that the visual presentation for her Pulitzer Prize-winning series "A Mother's Journey" typically runs an hour but she managed to squeeze in an abbreviated version for IRIS Nights. The edit didn't reduce the impact of the powerful images of a mother and her 11-year-old son as the two coped with his fight with terminal cancer.

Renee was obviously very moved by her year-long, intimate documentation of Cyndie and Derek. Cyndie told Renee that she can't imagine living without the above photograph that captured a very tender moment between her and her son.

She also showed a sweet picture where the two shared a rare smiling moment together which seemed to touch everyone in the audience.

During the Q & A, Renee was asked the requisite question about when she first sound herself interested in photography. Apparently, it all started when Renee, as child, shot "little teeny people" on the street from the top of the Statue of Liberty, with a brownie camera her parents had given her.

Through her wonderful photography, this warm, cheerful and talented woman now gets to tell stories about all kinds of people (not just the "teeny" ones) from around the world. Sounds to us like she's already won the lottery!

Click here to watch Renee's lecture online!

(All images by Unique for the Space)

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