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)

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)

Karen Kasmauski: A Born Observer

Karen Kasmauski came to our IRIS Nights lecture last night and explained to us why she does what she does. "I was born an observer," she told those in attendance. An observer, yes, but also a storyteller.

While trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, she said that she settled on photography as a way to tell stories. The former newspaper photojournalist's only formal training in the field was what she describes as a life-long thirst to learn more about other people's lives.

In college, a palm reader predicted Karen would pursue a career in medicine. Obviously, that prediction didn't come true.

Still, maybe that palm reader was on to something. Over the course of her career, Karen has done several stories on health and medicine.

It was these stories that placed in her in some of the greatest danger. During one story about radiation, she was unknowingly contaminated with radiation after eating reindeer and moose meat from Sweden that was contaminated from the Chernobyl disaster.

Karen shared the story behind an amazing image of a survivor from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. During the shoot, this man, who was severely burned, asked her if she would be interested in seeing the charred and tattered jacket he was wearing on the day the bomb was dropped. She responded with a resounding "yes!" What a profound story in a simple yet powerful image.

Not only were Karen's many colleagues in attendance during last night's IRIS Nights lecture but so was her family. Here she is with her proud husband and daughter.

Great job, Karen! We can't wait to hear more of your observations in the future!

Click here to watch Karen's IRIS Nights lecture online. For more information about Karen, visit her official Website.

(All images by Unique for the Space)

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)

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)

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