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)

Announcing Our 100th IRIS Nights Lecture!

Hard to believe that we've almost made it to the big 100 considering we're still only 2 1/2 years old!

We couldn't be more excited that we're thisclose to celebrating our 100th IRIS Nights lecture. The momentous occasion takes place later this month on when David Fahey and Mark McKenna take the stage to discuss the life and body of work of Herb Ritts.

No need to wait until the week before to secure tickets. We're giving them away now and up until a couple of days before the lecture on September 29th. In order to win tickets you must participate in our IRIS Nights trivia contest, running on our Facebook page ("like" us here if you haven't already). We'll publish trivia questions about past IRIS Nights photographers on that page. The first person to respond with the correct answer in the comments wins a pair of tickets to the lecture on September 29th. Now is a great time to brush up on your IRIS Nights knowledge!

Thanks to all of you for making IRIS Nights the big success that it is each and every Thursday night! We couldn't have made it to 100 without you!

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Throwdown at the Space!


When Laila Ali took the podium at the Space yesterday with her favorite photographer Mikki Willis, many of us were already expecting a brazen and strong voice from the reigning champion of women's middleweight boxing and daughter of the most famous boxer ever - Muhammad Ali.


Without a doubt Laila Ali lived up to the hype.


Laila was a powerful presence.


Mikki quizzed her on her boxing career and ran a slideshow of his work including some iconic portraits of her.

What we didn't expect was for Ali to be called out by a female audience member, amateur boxer Miss Tami, and challenged to a match to defend her undefeated title. During the Q & A following the lecture, Miss Tami approached the podium and faced Ali in a boxing stare down, "calling her out in front of everyone."

Laila surprised everyone by calling Miss Tami up to compare builds, reach, and hand-sizes. The audience was thrilled even as Staff pondered whether or not the situation was going to require a call to security.

It was clear, even before a smile broke free from them both, that the fearless mother, wife and fighter Laila Ali had no need for any guard or security.


Although Miss Tami or shall we call her Miss T. didn't get Ali to agree to a bout in the ring, her encounter might just develop into a more amiable relationship with one of the most inspirational female boxers today.


That Mikki Willis was personally selected by Laila Ali to discuss her life and career in front of an audience at the Space came as no surprise.

Their understanding of social responsibility and commitment to improving the lives of others is a common thread demonstrated in their work and emerged as the focus of the lecture.


The bulk of Mikki's questions turned the spotlight on Ali and were centered on her experiences and ideals rather than the intricacies of each photograph he captured of her,


but the discussion between the two friends still embodied the framework of Sports photography, the essential moments and people of sports history as captured by the photographer.

You tell us: How would you define Sports Photography?

(All photos © 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!

Recent Developments: Julius Shulman

Juergen Nogai ( R) seen here with his wife, Jeannie ( C) and POYi/Water photographer and lecturer Gerd Ludwig ( L)

When we caught up with Juergen Nogai (Julius Shulman's shooting partner) at our last opening, he told us about an amazing retrospective of Julius' (and also Juergen's) work. It was planned well in advance to celebrate Julius' 100th birthday. Sadly, Julius passed away in July of 2009 at the age of 99 leaving us with an impressive life-time of amazing work (see our tribute to him here).


It was decided that 'the show must go on,' and the exhibit, which is the most complete collection of Shulman's work to be shown in one place, opened in October of last year (Julius' 100th birthday would have been 10/10/2010). It's called "Cool and Hot" and it will run until February 27, 2011 at the ZEPHYR Gallery in Mannheim, Germany.

While it might not be likely for you to see this exhibit before February, Juergen did mention that it is likely to hit the road for a mini-tour. We can hope that it makes its way across the pond to us, but so far it doesn't look like that's in the cards. We'll keep you posted.

Leonard Nimoy Beams Into IRIS Nights

The one and only Leonard Nimoy stepped up on stage at IRIS Nights last night. He wasn't here to talk about his acting career but to discuss his life as a highly respected photographer.

Introducing Nimoy at the lecture was New York Times Lens Blog writer James Estrin. The two are seen here chatting in the green room beforehand. Looks like they've become fast friends! Nimoy started the lecture by recounting a story about a time he was walking in Los Angeles with Tom Hanks. The two encountered a man who wanted to have his photo taken with Hanks. When Hanks asked who would take the picture, the man turned to Nimoy and said "Oh, Mr. Nimoy, you're a wonderful photographer. Can you take the picture?" Nimoy, who maintained such an enviable sense of humor throughout the lecture, joked that it was that story that gave him "street credibility" as a photographer. We think he had street cred long before then! Nimoy spoke at length about his photography, including one of his most well-known works, "The Full Body Project." He explains how he became involved with the women in the above photo, all members of the Fat Bottom Revue burlesque  group. Nimoy revealed that he does not do photojournalism. He prefers shooting projects in a controlled environment. Nimoy's "Secret Selves" was the first time he ever used color in his photography. "Secret Selves" focused on people bringing out their secret, hidden or fantasy selves to Nimoy and his camera. Nimoy is a very prolific photographer.  Apparently there are thousands of photos that he's taken which have yet to see the light of day. Personally, we can't wait to see more! Nimoy stuck around after his talk to sign copies of his books The Full Body Project for fans. Were you one of the lucky few to get him to sign a copy of the book? Nimoy's wife was in attendance last night. Here she is, on the left, posing with him in front of one of the first images visitors come across in the BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit, his most well-known photo from "The Full Body Project." After expressing his gratitude to the packed room for attending his lecture, he signed off with this very familiar quote: "live long and prosper!" Thanks for such a thoughtful, entertaining and enlightening lecture last night, Leonard! You can watch the lecture on our site by clicking here. (All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

Rutherford and Mendoza step up to the plate!

One thing that we love about the lectures for the SPORT exhibit has been the wonderful assistance provided by the Women Sports Foundation, who helped us bring some incredible athletes to share the podium with photographers. They introduced us to Aimee Mullins who came to speak with Howard Schatz, and Laila Ali who spoke with Mikki Willis.

Last night was another great pairing - this one with a female athlete AND a female photographer - the lovely lenslady Marla Rutheford and the bubbly Olympic medalist Jessica Mendoza.

From the way these two ladies played off of each other and cracked each other up you would think you were a fly on the wall at a fun sleepover, not in the room with innovating industry leaders.



For all the laughter and fun the two were very serious in their discussion of their experiences and the not so charming realities about making it in the industry of sports photography.

Marla spoke to the challenges she has faced in developing a trust relationship with her subjects, resorting to charm, intellect, a lot of humor and even a little fibbing so they would feel comfortable posing for artistic semi-nudes.

Jessica discussed the wake-up call moment she had when one of the first images of her in circulation was digitally enhanced by the publishers, causing her to question whether or not her appearance should play such a central role in the coverage of athletics.

They both shared captivating stories about these and other turning points in their extraordinary careers.

...and try as they might they could not stop cracking each other up!

At the end of the day we were just thrilled to be in the presence of such positive, accomplished and inspiring ladies.

(All photos © Unique for the Space)

Ami Vitale - "The Story Within the Story"

Acclaimed photographer Ami Vitale joined us at the Space on Thursday and shared her award winning work shot in Kashmir along with other recent still and video projects. Vitale's photographs have appeared in Time, Newsweek, US News & World Report and The New York Times, among others.

We didn't know what to expect but got very positive words from the one-and-only David Hume Kennerly who called the day of the lecture to express his regrets for not being able to attend.

She was - as Kennerly forewarned us - extremely charming and quite a wonderful photographer. The theme of her talk was "The Story Within The Story" and she told many...

Touching stories, beautiful stories, tragic stories - moments of memory made timeless by the arresting images she took as they unfolded.

The images were poignant portraits of cultures and identities around the globe, and the stories she shared about them were just as engaging- we wished she published her written journal.

Her presentation displayed the strong bond that she shares with her subjects and the communities she works in.

A bond which - it was clear - she had no trouble making with those who came to hear her speak as well.

Ami withheld no details regarding her choice of photo gear, her process - or her decision not to use Photoshop.

She also made it clear through retelling some personal experiences, that she thinks every photographer should fight to keep their copyright.

A transporting evening courtesy of an amazing talent...and so friendly and approachable too!

Thank you Ami!

(All images © Unique for the Space)

Paul Nicklen Chills Out In The Polar Regions

"Extreme Exposure" featured photographer Paul Nicklen's photos of wild animals in the polar regions have awed many who have seen this terrific show. Last night, it was Paul's time to awe IRIS Nights lecture attendees with his amazing stories of what went into capturing those images.

The Space was jam-packed! Over 200 people attended the lecture, which sold out in a matter of seconds when tickets first went on sale a couple of weeks ago.

Paul's message is clearly one of environmental conservation. He cares passionately about the environment and explained that if the polar caps lose their ice, they will also lose polar bears an absolutely frightening thought!

One of the many death-defying moments he recounted in his lecture was the story related to the photograph above. During a trip to the Arctic, Paul's lightweight aircraft experienced engine trouble though he still kept taking pictures during the entire incident! According to Paul, it was all worth it because being able to photograph thousands of narwhals in the Arctic is not all that common!

Why does Paul enjoy taking so many close-up images of animals? He does it because he feels people would care more about them when they are seen in a more intimate light.

During his talk, Paul played several "on location" video clips of himself photographing in the wild. It was great to see how someone in the situation above...

...could end up with this amazing photo!

Paul also recounted the story of his four-day interaction with a female leopard seal who repeatedly attempted to gift Paul a penguin while both were underwater. Despite their sharp teeth, Paul insists that they are very gentle, kind animals.

Paul re-iterated his message of environmental protection throughout his lecture but he managed to inject quite a bit humor into his talk with a his funny deadpan delivery.

How can you help the environment? Paul wants us all to "chill out."

Before he left for the night, Paul stuck around to sign copies of his book, Polar Obsession. The cover of the book features one of his favorite photos - that of a polar bear and his reflection in the clear, glassy waters!

Thanks for sharing the incredible stories and the worthwhile message, Paul!  You can watch his entire IRIS Nights lecture here and learn more about him on his official site.

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Coming Soon At IRIS Nights: Amber Valletta

Here at the Annenberg Space for Photography, we've had the great fortune of many incredible photographers lecturing at our IRIS Nights for our BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit. One of our guest lecturers on Thursday, November 3rd will provide her own unique insight from her career in front of the camera. Model, actor and long-time humanitarian Amber Valletta (seen above during a visit to the Space) started modeling as a teenager quickly establishing a high-profile career by landing her first Vogue cover on the eve of her 19th birthday. Her success as a model would soon transition to television and film with Valletta taking over co-hosting duties from Cindy Crawford on MTV's House of Style followed by acting roles in Hitch and the current ABC show Revenge. Her increasing fame also provided an opportunity to work with multiple charitable organizations that focused on Valletta's childhood interest in social relations.

One of her most recent fashion spreads for the September issue of W Magazine has also been one of her most controversial. In an industry where youth and beauty are usually a prerequisite for success, Valletta inhabits a role in "One for the Ages" spanning 12 decades of life with a final lasting image of a decrepit, yet intimidating elderly woman of the future. Because aging is often the death knell for many models, the actual intent of the photo shoot is a rarity. In the issue, Valletta said of the layout.

"You see women who are getting older, and they're still thought of as powerful and sexy and sensual. Ten years ago that wasn't talked about nearly as much...My best advice for aging gracefully is probably going to be more of a spiritual or a psychological answer, which is just trying to find peace in life and being happy and sharing that with other people. Ultimately the insides never change. The outsides will always. And it's transcending that that I think makes a beautiful life."

We couldn't agree more, Amber! If you don't have a chance to see Valletta along with photographer Amanda de Cadenet at our IRIS Night on November 3rd, we hope you'll still find an opportunity to check out BEAUTY CULTURE here at the Annenberg Space for Photography until November 27th. You can check out her spread in W, shot by Steven Klein, here.

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