George Steinmetz Documents The World From The Sky

Those of you who suffer from acrophobia may want to proceed with caution while reading the rest of this blog post. That's because the breathtaking images of the world's deserts you're about to see have been taken by last night's IRIS Nights lecturer, photographer George Steinmetz, from high up in the sky...

...on board his own motorized para-glider!

As George explained to the audience, for him to really understand the desert, he needed to get high above the ground. His para-glider is lightest powered aircraft in the world.

His method of photography is certainly not all that safe. He shared a photo of himself that showed injuries he'd received when his glider once crashed during take-off in China. Several busted teeth and 17 stitches didn't stop him from getting back into the pilot's seat!

George told the audience that he has always been a very curious man. The camera is his excuse to explore the world and share his knowledge with the rest of the world.

Don't just think that the deserts are located in hot climates. George gave us all a geography lesson by reminding us that Antarctica, which he has beautifully documented with his own camera, is the largest and driest desert on the planet!

Stropping by to hear George's lecture was his friend Art Streiber, a very talented photographer in his own right.

But George's most important visitor last night was his own mother who watched him with great pride throughout the entire lecture.

Congrats on a great talk, George! Fly safely!

Click here to watch George's IRIS Nights lecture online. For more information about him, visit his official website.

(All images by Unique for the Space)

Recent Developments: POYi Photographer Barbara Davidson Wins a Pulitzer Prize

Los Angeles Times staff photographer Barbara Davidson was awarded a Pulitzer Prize today in the feature-photography category for her work documenting the victims and the families of gang-related crimes. You may remember that these same images were included in last year's "Pictures of the Year International" show at the Space. Big congratulations to Barbara!

Barbara was featured in the digital feature for the show and had this to say about her work covering the gang violence for the Times: "There are a lot of gang stories that we cover. We cover the shooting, we go to funerals and then we stop. We don't show really what happens to these people and how their lives are completely altered. I wanted to follow those stories through."

Click here to watch the digital feature of last year's "Pictures of The Year International" which follows Barbara on location and on the job.

(Top image from Christina House of the Los Angeles Times. Other images from POYi digital feature)

Brian L. Frank and our rivers

Wearing his signature baseball cap, Brian L. Frank, POYi award winning photographer whose work is prominently featured in this exhibition's digital video, gave an awesome lecture at the Space on Thursday.

Brian covered his current portfolio as well as images of the Colorado River that brought him international success as POYi's Global Visionary Award recipient. Brian spoke at length about his inspirations, including the WPA photographs of the country during the depression.

Brian's tip for success was as simple and clear as his personal presentation... respect the story and respect the voice of the subject regardless of how unpopular the point of view is.

Understanding the perspective of the subject is critical to the success of the image and the impact it has.

Brian shared some of his current multimedia projects as well as his thoughts on the industry's use of audio still projects and how it can be improved.

Witty and all too charming, Brian's ability to establish genuine relationships with his subjects was evident in his ease of establishing a relationship with those of use who gathered to hear him speak and see his images. His down-to-earth connection with his subjects and the environment he captures has produced some of the most remarkable images of Mexico City and its people we've ever seen.

He even demonstrated his ability to establish ease with his subject on a few of our attending guests!

Thank you Brian L. Frank...you are a humble inspiration.

(PS On July 23 Brian appeared on NPR's discussing his photo essay "Death of the Colorado" - very cool!)

(All Photos © 2010 Unique for the Space)

Kate Orne - "May You Never Be Uncovered"


Kate Orne - our 48th IRIS Nights lecturer - came to the Space to share her research on victims of the Pakistan sex trade. For over four years Kate has been documenting this dark demimonde and its oppressed population.

Kate's collection of images represents a fragile and honest portrayal of the women and girls living in Pakistan's brothels. Her work is the result of developing long term friendships, trust relationships and complete, non-judgmental acceptance between her and her subjects.

Kate's presentation was frank, direct and - surprisingly - humorous! A highlight from the Q&A was Orne saying, in reply to how Pakistani men resolve being Muslim and going to prostitutes: "there is something stronger than religion, and that is SEX! Everyone wants to get laid!"

But going beyond the humor, Kate expressed a powerful personal passion and eagerness to resolve a history of abuse where women are forced into sex trade - and yet she also demonstrated a gentle and compassionate tone discussing these victims who continue to work the sex trade without force.

Kate encourages those interested in learning more to visit her website. To protect the identity of the subjects photographed, the images shown during the presentation will not be posted online.

(All images © 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!

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)

Elizabeth Kreutz Cycles Up To IRIS Nights

Elizabeth Kreutz is the quintessential modern day sports photographer and she conveyed just that image during her IRIS Nights talk last night.

She does it all - photographing the Tour de France while five months pregnant, covering not one, but two Olympics and working a full year as the exclusive documentary photographer of Lance Armstrong during his comeback in 2009.

The twittering photojournalist makes sure she shares as many of her adventures on Twitter as she can. Elizabeth, with a little help, even managed to tweet a picture of herself during her IRIS Nights lecture.

Elizabeth's remarkable work with Armstrong has garnered her three awards -- World Press Photo for Sports Feature Story (first place), POYi for Sports Picture Story (first place) and the Photo District News Photo Annual.

Elizabeth's Twitter fans may have been disappointed she didn't share any pics of her baby boy Charlie during her presentation at the Space, but everyone left inspired by the amazing photographs that revealed sports celeb Armstrong's more private moments.

Elizabeth's presentation, which included the infamous drug-testing photo of the cyclist, covered everything you would want to know about Armstrong, including his quirks, passion as well as his dedication to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Thanks, Elizabeth, for a great night and we'll see you on Twitter!

(All images © Unique for the Space)

David Butow Brings China To IRIS Nights

Last night POYi award-winning photojournalist David Butow was our guest lecturer at the Space, speaking on the subject he has covered for much of this decade - China.

China's economy and culture have been rapidly changing over the last 10 years and David has been there to document those transformations every step of the way. During that time, he's made at least one annual trip to the Middle Kingdom.

David presented three photo essays for his IRIS Nights lecture. First, was the deadly Sichuan earthquake that struck the region in 2008.

Second, was his documentation of the Uighur people, an ethnic minority who live mainly in the Northwestern part of the country and who are largely of the Muslim faith. A Uighur uprising in 2009 threw the region into turmoil.

And lastly was David's look at China's trendy twenty-something culture. He explained that while the largely 'only-child' youth face desires, expectations and obstacles that are unique to their country, they are still essentially just like every other young person in the world.

At one point David asked the audience how many of them had recently visited China and was surprised to see how many hands shot up.

David took questions at the end of each of the three sections so the audience could discover more about each individual body of work. This was the first time IRIS Nights deviated from its format of a sole Q&A session.

Through David, we got a special window through to the many different faces that populate a country with a population of 1.3 billion people and growing.

We can't wait to see more photos from David documenting his future travels to China and elsewhere around the globe! Travel safe!

You could learn more about David's work on his official Website.

(All images © Unique for the Space)

Kitra Cahana - Mature Work From A Young Photojournalist

Yesterday we were host to Kitra Cahana, the photographer whose powerful portraits of nomadic youth became our street banners for the current exhibit "The Year".

We all have Kitra Cahana's father to thank for encouraging her interest in photography starting at a very young age. Last night, Kitra described to the audience at IRIS Nights how, as a young teen, he would ask her to capture her emotions with a camera.

Amazingly, Kitra's never had any kind of formal training in photography - going out and photographing the world was her only education in the medium. Talk about being born with a keen eye!

Kitra's professional career began at the very young age of 17 when one of her photographs covering the Israeli Disengagement of Gaza made the front page of the New York Times. A few years later, she would go from the pages of the Times to their physical offices where she ended up as an intern with the paper.

One advantage of photodocumenting dangerous conflicts in places like Gaza and the Congo at a young age, is that you may not realize how much your life is in jeopardy while in these situations.

Kitra revealed that the danger aspect of the job never crosses her mind! This kind of wide-eyed invincibility might be what helps Kitra produce such riveting pictures from around the globe.

In attendance were several members of the Rainbow Family, whom she featured in her popular Rainbowland series.

It's nice to see that she's remained friendly with some of her photo subjects!

Kitra's talents don't lie exclusively in photography. During the lecture, she read some of her own poems inspired by and created from her still images.

Kitra explained that she uses poetry to create a more comprehensive body of work and intends to continue to explore the marriage of different artistic mediums in future projects.

Such great insight into the mind of an incredible natural. And to think, Kitra still has many more decades of work ahead of her!

Can't wait to see more!

For more information about Kitra and her projects, visit her official Website.

(All images © Unique for the Space - except iPhone photo of the Street Banners)

IRIS Nights Proudly Hosts Katie Falkenberg's First Lecture

We first met Katie Falkenberg during last year's POYi exhibit when her "Sugarcane Worker" portrait had just been honored by the acclaimed photojournalism contest. Her work is featured again in the current exhibit and this time she made sure to come out and speak at IRIS Nights. You wouldn't know it based on how at ease she was in front of the audience, but last night's IRIS Nights talk was the first time Katie had ever given a lecture. What a natural! She displayed an immensely charming presence and a warm smile that captivated the audience the entire evening. Katie divided her lecture into two halves, dedicating each part to a specific photography project. The first half focused on her series of photographs about domestic violence in Pakistan titled "In The Name of Honor." Shockingly, 70-90% of women in Pakistan are victims of domestic violence and Katie's moving images helped shed light on their stories.  Her series "Mountaintop Removal" tells of the drastic effects Mountaintop coal mining has on certain communities in Kentucky. At the end of the evening, a still smiling Katie shared more about her work by graciously spending time answering questions from those who came out to hear her speak. We're honored to have hosted your first lecture, Katie. You did a great job! We hope to see you speak again at the Space very soon! For more information about Katie visit <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.katiefalkenbergphotography.com/" href="http://www.katiefalkenbergphotography.com/" "target="_blank">her official Website. (All images by Unique for the Space)

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