He Shoots - He Scores! Leifer knocks it out of the park! (add in your sport metaphor)

Neil Leifer, Thursday, January 7 - © Unique for the Space
Neil Leifer kicked off 2010 with our first IRIS Nights lecture of the New Year and boy did he just raise the bar!

We had such an amazing turnout that we actually had to turn a few people away (we're SORRY!)... over 250 people filled our digital gallery AND our workshop area. Neil - always the prepared professional - was at the Space early to run through his slides and do an interview with KCAL (which they will be running on Super Bowl Sunday of course). He also took the time to chat in our Reading Room with one of our previous esteemed lecturers, David Hume Kennerly.

David Hume Kennerly and Neil Leifer at the Photography Space

Also in the house for Neil was recent lecturer Howard Schatz:
Howard Schatz at Neil Leifer's Lecture

Neil was so prepared he brought his own introduction, narrated by Alec Baldwin(!). He watched with great joy as Alec, Sly Stallone and numerous luminaries sang his praises before he even reached the podium. Neil Leifer waiting in the wings

Once he took 'the stage' we sat rapt, listening to the master regale us with tales of how a hard-scrabble hobbyist kid (yes that's him in the picture below!)

Neil Leifer at the Space for IRIS Nights Lecture

...became the youngest photographer to grab the cover of Sports Illustrated. Neil's a natural storyteller and a huge fan of his subjects...whether it's Muhammad Ali...

Leifer's images of Ali at the Space
...or it's Fidel Castro!

Leifer with Castro and Leifer

Neil peppered his lecture with threats to reveal the score of the Texas/Alabama BCS Championship game being played in Pasadena during the lecture, but he was loudly overruled by our guests who didn't want the surprise ruined.
Neil threatening to reveal the score

Whether you were a sports fan, a photography buff, a history nut or an A-List photographer, Neil offered a highly entertaining evening...looking quite at home talking from our podium.

Neil Leifer at the podium

Afterwards, Schatz and Kennerly hung out for a while, chatting...
Howard Schatz and David Hume Kennerly

...while Neil settled comfortably in for a long line of book-buying fans...for whom he signed everything...books, postcards, napkins.

Neil Leifer, signing post-lecture
He was so comfortable, in fact, and the audience was so appreciative, that we're going to have him come back on February 13 for a special Saturday IRIS Nights lecture -completely new, unlike his first program.

What can we say? We love having Neil here and we're glad the feeling is mutual!
Neil Leifer

Dennis Dimick comes full circle back to the Space


Dennis Dimick returned for a fourth visit to our Space - this time to gave a special inside-edition lecture about National Geographic 's current magazine issue, "Water" and other environmentally-focused previous issues.

Dimick was National Geographic  magazine's representative who first brought the concept of the special Water issue to our board last year as a potential exhibit and partnership between National Geographic  magazine and the Annenberg Space for Photography. He told us that his original presentation was based on a feature story from 1992 that he edited for the magazine about the coming freshwater crisis. Prescient!

He came for a second visit once the Water issue was coming together with actual images from around the world to show to us ... and of course he was here a third time for our opening in March. Now he returned to discuss National Geographic  magazine's leadership in combining photojournalism with environmental issues to study our planet's fragile state.

As the executive editor in the area of environmental issues, it is clear that Dennis' dedication to these issues has brought National Geographic  well-deserved praise.

Along with a catalogue of some amazing photographs, he brought a surprising tone of practicality to the endless debate of going green and going greener - or as Dennis puts it, moving from competition to collaboration and learning to do better with the resources you already have. His inspiration, he said, was rooted in his own upbringing on a farm...

...and his own personal journey shifted - as did the journeys of many of us attending - when he first encountered the famous image of the Earth from space on the cover of the Whole Earth Catalog.

Covering some dense perspectives of our current environmental challenges, i.e., responsible disposal of electronic waste or recyclables, Dennis began the lecture with some personal inspirations that have led to his part in the creation of National Geographic 's stories.

Our growing population,

and the attendant rise in CO2 output,

the frightening reminders of our shrinking glaciers,

and the resulting climate changes that have brought about new flooding,

as well as new droughts,

and draining reservoirs.

It wasn't what I would call a feel-good lecture but it was amazingly clear, level-headed and informative. This is a testament to the clarity with which Dennis approaches the global view of our climate changes and water crises.

Dennis was cool enough to hang out after the lecture to answer questions and view photographic work of lecturer goers, including some large prints in 3D by photographer Stuart Sperling.

Thank you for coming back Dennis...

...your presence is always welcome here!

The LA Times Hearts The Space


Last month, The Los Angeles Times launched Framework, a top-notch photo blog we've fallen in love with. Not only are we big fans of the site but they're also big fans of the Space! They had nothing but nice things to say about the Space and our IRIS Nights lecture series: "The lectures are informative and entertaining and the space is spectacular — it simply engages you. In an odd way, I feel like I'm in an amazing home with the most incredible entertainment system and equally incredible photography in the hallways."

Thanks for the kind words and great blog! We're hooked!

Everything Is Beauty: Lecture With Fadil Berisha

What a treat it was to have fashion photographer Fadil Berisha present during our IRIS Nights lecture series yesterday evening.

Fadil has had a global influence throughout his career. He has not only worked with such figures as Tyra Banks, President Bill Clinton, Snoop Dogg and numerous Miss America contestants, but he also played an incredible role in campaigning against the Kosovo massacres.

During his presentation, Fadil explained that his work stems from a genuine love for beauty.

"Beauty is what I really love... I like to live happy and see pretty things all the time. With photographers it has to do with how they feel on the inside and that's what comes out on the photo," proclaimed Fadil during the lecture. "I love to feel happy."

Fadil took a moment during his lecture to speak about his experience photographing the horrific war in Kosovo. Since the topic wasn't related to beauty itself he placed his visual slideshow on pause because he felt it was important to take some time to talk about his experiences with the conflict.

About 10 years ago Albanian photographers contacted Fadil asking him to help promote their cause in the Kosovo war. He told the audience that the pictures they sent him changed his life. He then spent the next couple years raising money and campaigning for awareness. His work and the photos he took made an international impact and helped pressure the United States to get involved.

Fadil told the audience about his first time working with the stunning Carmen Dell'Orefice, the legend who was his inspiration for a Rolex campaign. He said he fell in love when he realized how she stayed young at heart and continued to exude beauty throughout her whole life.

Fadil also gave shout-outs to models Beverly Johnson and Nikki Haskell, who were both in attendance. He raved about how they each possessed that same confidence and beauty he found so alluring in Carmen.

Johnson took the microphone during the Q & A session but she didn't have a question for Fadil. Instead, she took the time to praise the photography by calling him "brilliant" and telling the audience she could not wait to work with him again.

Thanks for an outstanding lecture, Fadil! For more information about him, check out his official website. You can also watch his IRIS Nights lecture online.

(All lecture images by Unique)

TIM WALKER STORYTELLER: Fashion into Fairytales


Jonas Kesseler in blue spitfire, Glemham Hall, Suffolk, 2009

By Ruth Ansel

“For fashion photography to resonate, for people to believe in it, it has to be a real moment.” -- Tim Walker

The model-as-protagonist is the most vital component among the many that knit together to make a successful photograph says the photographic historian Robin Muir. She must in Walker’s words behave like a ‘silent movie actress’, who possesses a ‘sense of performance’. ‘You are persuading models to act; you try to show them where your inspiration comes from and hope that they understand it and relate to it. Then you all get lost in it…’ Tim Walker: Storyteller is a book about photographs that is made up of fictional narratives that turn fashion into fairy tales.Tim’s love of fashion as a means of realizing his dreams is all about telling a story. I believe every fashion shoot tells a story beyond the fashion. A story about a woman, a story about the time we live in, a story about longing and desire — in this instance a story about always seeing the world through the eyes of an irrepressible child. This process of reaching deep within his unconscious creates photographic magic. What Tim has is a simultaneous sense of elegance, wit, romance and daring. When you think all is light and sunny suddenly a surprisingly dark side emerges. A crying skeleton appears in a field of flowers with beautiful Malgosia Bela in a red wig. He conjours up all these moods with unerring intuive skill. One ingeniously crafted set after another appears in the midst of unlikely places. All this together with a ravishing palette of intensely saturated colors makes for a thrilling visual experience as the book unfolds from page to page.


Karlie Kloss on yellow brick road, Dior couture, East Sussex, 2010

In the last few years Tim has set out to explore a deliberate contrast between his subjects facing the lens in carefully arranged poses against simple backgrounds as opposed to his cinematic narratives. He is always sketching situations and scenes in his notebooks which soon come to life. He is able with a devoted team of makeup artists, painters, builders and stylists to realize his elaborate dreams– worthy of any great film director. What is amazing is that his sets are constructed life-size in real time and space.These are not manipulated images artificially created on the computer.


Tilda Swinton and aviator goggles, Yves St. Laurent, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2011

We had met briefly in New York in the mid-nineties when I worked at the Richard Avedon studio as Dick’s in-house designer and Tim was one of his lowly fourth assistants.Tim reminded me he used to silenty change the lightbulbs in my studio space and empty the “dust-bins” as he referred to the wastepaper baskets.


Malgosia Bela and Chi on motorway, Givenchy Couture, Cambridgeshire, 2010

As I recall we hardly exchanged a word, but Tim assures me we did, and continually teases me about my memory lapse. Soon after leaving the Avedon studio Tim became a creative force on the fashion scene contributing major portfolios to magazines like W, and American, British and Italian Vogue. Before a brief visit to London in the Fall of 2011, it was at the ICP Gallery’s opening celebrating Avedon’s latest fashion exhibition we really connected. Very soon after Tim asked me if I would be interested in designing his new book. I was thrilled and didn’t look back. At first it felt risky being that both of us are “hands on” kind of people working on two different continents. We knew we would have little chance to work side by side as the book progressed. Nevertheless the layouts took shape pretty quickly thanks to the computer so that everything came together with ease. The book turned out better than I could’ve imagined. It was the beginning of an ongoing alliance between a photographer and an art director that reflected our deeply held shared beliefs to never play it safe.I always believe it is the love of what you’re interested in pursuing that really matters. Without passion you cannot create something of value that truly connects with other people.Usually my experience is you never do it as well as you ought to do it—but every now and then there is an exception— and working on this book with Tim, this remarkable young master, has been that exception.

© 2013 All written content property of Ruth Ansel unless otherwise noted. © Images by Tim Walker.

Ruth Ansel made her debut as a designer as one of the youngest art directors in the history of magazines for Harper’s Bazaar in 1962. Ever since, she has pushed the boundaries of magazine design. Her Iris Nights lecture will take place on Thursday, August 8th, 2013. Learn more about Ansel on her official website, www.ruthansel.com.

See more of Tim Walkers Images in his book Tim Walker: Storyteller. To learn more about the photographer and his work visit his official website at www.timwalkerphotography.com.

Jimmy Colton takes 'making the cut' to a whole new level!

Jimmy Colton, January 14 - © Unique for the Space

Last Thursday, our Space was graced with a pair of the best eyes in the business - Jimmy ('only my mother calls me James') Colton - photo editor for Sports Illustrated.

Jimmy Colton, January 14, 2010 - © Unique for the Space

Jimmy prepped us for his presentation by informing us that during the Olympics his job entailed reviewing 319,000 unedited images to narrow down to 70.

Jimmy Colton, January 14, 2010 - © Unique for the Space

That's right: 319,000>70. Crazy, right? Then he showed us the 70 or so images - and he proved his point! When we first met Jimmy at our SPORT opening, he told a wonderful story about how he sees his work as digging for the jewel in the lightbox.

Jimmy showed us how SI became the source of the 'photo finish' for the famous Phelps 100m race. In this case the jewel was not too hard to find.

Jimmy Colton on the Phelps 100m victory - © Unique for the Space

Jimmy Colton on Phelps' 100m victory - © Unique for the Space

Each of his presentations were impeccably produced and superbly scored. The Olympics, Super Bowl, and my favorite, the Ooohs and Ahhhs reel.

Jimmy Colton - Ooohs and Ahhhs - © Unique for the Space

As is often the case, Jimmy's lecture was attended by some of our other IRIS Nights stars, on this occasion including Lucy Nicholson...

Lucy Nicholson at Jimmy Colton Lecture - © Unique for the Space

...and Rick Rickman...

Rick Rickman @ Jimmy Colton - © Unique for the Space

...and Manuello (Manny) Paganelli...

Manuello Paganelli @ Jimmy Colton - © Unique for the Space

Needless to say, after the lecture Jimmy was swarmed by appreciative guests.

Jimmy Colton after the lecture © Unique for the Space

Many guests asked Jimmy to sign the complimentary issues of Sports Illustrated he brought along as lecture favors!

Jimmy Colton © Unique for the Space

Always the gentleman - he was happy to oblige. Thank you Mr. Colton. The pleasure was ours!

Maisel makes your mind spin with Black Maps

Not many of our guest lecturers visit the Space to present a collection of images focusing on environmentally-polluted sites and then disassociate their work from the larger effort of global advocacy...especially in regards to our world's water crisis.

But in the case of New York-born Princeton and Harvard grad David Maisel, when it comes to his photography, his work neither represents answers to a conflict nor offers any resolution other than a sense of poetic truth.

...if this is your position David, then thou ART as wise as thou ART beautiful!

Maisel's aerial photographs of sites where the natural ecological order has been eradicated are images of a stunning atrocity.

At first glance, you see a brilliant photograph of splattered colors,

but upon further examination, the photo actually depicts a man-made sea of toxic minerals destroying our environment.

A bittersweet presentation, Maisel's work - titled Black Maps  - is a visually emotional creation that does more than just leave an impression...

...it speaks to the soul.

If you missed the lecture, this is unfortunately one time when you won't be able to watch it online.

However, we will be posting an audio file and a transcript,

as well as a gallery of more photos.

But you must see the work...

...it's truly unique.

Afterward, David was extremely genial and approachable.

He answered questions, chatted with guests...

...signed some copies of his book Oblivion ...

then bid us all goodbye and good night.

(All photos © Unique for the Space)

Larry Towell: 'A Story Is The People In Front Of You'

Larry Towell's life is all about human beings and being human (his business card even says "human being") so it should come as no surprise that he incorporated those themes into last night's IRIS Nights lecture.

The first thing Larry did during the opening of his lecture last was explain why he would not be doing much speaking during his presentation. The reason? The hiccups. Larry explained that he suffered with the hiccups for 2 weeks earlier this summer and decided to put together a photographic slideshow, complete with pre-recorded audio, just in case there was a sudden resurgence of his hiccups while he was up on stage.

Some of the multi-talented photojournalist's slideshows consisted of his poetry and guitar-playing which narrated the photos with forceful artistry.

Larry said that he sometimes collects the ambient sound of places uses that as a soundtrack to his slideshow.

You can hear this natural soundtrack in his series dedicated to the Mennonites.

The Magnum photographer has photographed people all over the globe and spent a chunk of his time talking about his photo series from Palestine. Larry reminded us that "a story is the people in front of you."

Larry, who studied visual arts in college, pointed out: "When you're studying art you're made to believe that you're the center of the universe. But when you actually go out into the universe, you realize that it revolves around you ...and the people that are in front of you become the story." In other words, it really is all about human beings!

Larry's most personal slideshow came at the end of his talk when he showed a series of photographs that focused on the most important people in his life: his wife and children. The beautiful black and white images show the family frolicking in nature as well around their quaint country home.

During the Q&A Larry revealed how he goes about establishing a relationship with his subjects: it takes time. For example, the project with the Mennonites, who rarely allow themselves to be photographed, took him 10 years and 3000 roles of film to complete!

Congratulations, Larry, on a great presentation - and no hiccups!

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Poetic Photography: Lecture With Paul Lange

IRIS Nights lecturer Paul Lange - pictured here in front of his stunning picture of Venus Williams - gave an impressive presentation on the art and technique of photography last night.

Some of the photos on the screen looked more like paintings or digitally constructed portraits then the straight film or digital photography which they truly are. But as Lange pointed out, that was his goal. He manipulated the photos during exposure in-camera by simply experimenting with chemical processing methods.

"A photo is not just a model posing. I want my photographs to be like paintings," said Lange. "I want them to be long living."

He even went into detail explaining how a photo could be double exposed, cross processed or dye transferred - terms that had all the non-photographers struggling to keep up.

"It's fun just playing with the rules. They work more often then they don't work so the key is to just try it," said Lange in reference to his experimental work.

Lange's diverse career led him to the world of fashion, photographing top models and celebrities from around the globe. He combined his fine art training with the fashion staples of good hair, makeup and perfect lighting to create his unique and polished style. Lange still creates all of his photographs in-camera and does not digitally alter them in post-production.

Lange explained that digital filters don't have the poetry that film does. "There is a translucent quality that you get by chance with film..." said Lange passionately, "otherwise it is too uniform."

Lange kept coming back to ideas of mystery, chance, passion and poetry relying on the imagery of a 'paint-like quality' to describe his photographic style.

His unique photographs were not the sole reason this night was different from our other lectures; last night was also the first time the Annenberg Space for Photography held two lectures by a photographer in one evening.

The night was so successful that we hope to do more double-header lectures in the future, giving our guests twice the opportunity to attend!

Thank you Paul Lange for giving two lovely presentations!

(All lecture photos by Unique for the Space)

Watch Our New Iris Nights Video

Over the last four years, we've had close to 200 amazing lecturers participate in Iris Nights. Most of those lectures are available to watch on our website - for free! We've just completed a brand new highlights reel (if you will) of just some of the countless absorbing moments we've captured during these talks. Click "Read More" to watch the video. Iris Nights - the compelling stories behind the remarkable images!

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