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)

View Finder: Brian Bowen Smith Lecture

What did our IRIS Nights attendees think of Brian Bowen Smith? Here are some of their thoughts:

"He was so personable and such a good speaker. I was amazed by him!"
--Jesse Ruoff, regular IRIS Nights attendee, apparel designer

"To see all these pictures in an exhibit is pretty amazing. It is just beautiful the way it is laid out. I will definitely come again."
-- Ariana Trinneer, guest of lecturer Brian Bowen Smith

"The Space is terrific the way it shows photography. You get enough to make it significant but you don't get too overwhelmed"
--Marshall Feldman, first time visitor

"I love this place. I can benefit a lot from it because it really contributes to me as a professional but also as a person. I think so highly of the Annenberg Space for Photography. There is no other museum like it!"
-- Nini Valentina, regular Photo Space visitor, professional make-up artist

"I think the space is state-of-the-art! [Wallis Annenberg] went all out. Her generosity of spirit is so profound. It's such an invitation to the public.... Bottom line is that I am really impressed."
-- Dawn Moreno-Freedman, first time visitor

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

For more about Brian visit his website

Brian Bowen Smith: Beauty Is What You Make It

Not even a broken leg could stop photographer Brain Bowen Smith from giving a rousing lecture at IRIS Nights last night.

Brian did not intend to define beauty last night but instead explained that he believes that the topic is truly subjective.

He described how the combination of luck, guts and fate landed him his first job with famed photographer Herb Ritts, who would later become his mentor. According to Brian, Ritts taught him how to adeptly manipulate natural light and use photography to translate a model's true self.

But his most significant contribution was the idea of simplicity. "Beauty is simplicity and everything revolves around beauty," said Brian. "So I want to keep it simple."

Brian revealed that Ritts's style has been a source of inspiration throughout his professional career. Here's a photo that has a hint of Ritts but is truly all Brian Bowen Smith.

Brian reiterated his belief in simplicity. "Don't make a big deal about it," offered Brian. "Have fun. Keep it simple."

His exuberant and animated personality had the audience engaged and laughing the entire night.

As one audience member put it, "he was so personable and such a good speaker. I was amazed by him!"

Thanks for a terrific lecture, Brian. Here's to a quick recovery!

For more information about Brian, visit his website.

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

Photo Link Round Up

Check out what is happening in the photography world this week!

1. In honor of Kodak's ten year anniversary of its first digital zoom camera,

DC Views has compared elements of photography from when it was a 'digital science' to the 'easy sharing' aspect of today.

2. In a timely web 'service' offering Military personnel are remembering their time in service with photo books offered specially by the Military Yearbook Printing Company....but sometimes uploading pictures to a website can be extremely complicated.

3. Hollywood photographer David Strick is suing the Los Angeles Times for illegally publishing 174 of his photos.

The law suit could potentially cost $150,000 for each infringement, and there are 510 alleged violations!

4. When David Strick seemed to deliver too many photos, wedding photographer Gerald Randolph Byrd didn't deliver enough.

In fact Byrd refused to hand over the photos and is now serving two years of house arrest for fraudulent intent. The original sentence was eight years in prison.

5. But on a lighter note National Geographic has announced the "Best Travel Pictures of 2011" and they are incredible.
Photograph by Robin Moore

Click here to check them out.

Photograph by Becky Kagan Schott

We hope you have fun surfing the web for more photography updates!

Susan Anderson's Illusion of Womanhood

Susan Anderson, an internationally known photographer and expert on the High Glitz culture of child pageantry, recently gave us her take on the industry at our Iris Nights Lecture.

Although she abstained from giving any formal opinion on the controversial subject of beauty contests, she did claim that this is not a new issue we are dealing with. Anderson put on the screen a classical painting of Aphrodite and the golden apple and posed the question, "could this have been the first beauty pageant?"

Her question was meant to explain that society has always idealized women and we have always been fascinated with the fairy tale ending.  The fake eyelashes, the artificial tans, the thousand dollar hair dos, and the sparkly dresses all play into a preexisting culture that we are all partially responsible for creating.

Anderson admits that the most popular responses to her work are either to moralize or to laugh.  But she offers a different response: to just present.  She suggests that the little girls collaborate with her, that they have fun with it and it is their way to act, play a role and take a reality and make it their own.

She offers and interesting perspective because from where she stands it is simply art, it is fascinating and it is visually stunning.

To see more of Susan Anderson's work click here

Story Time with Mark Laita

It was my first week on the job interning for the Annenberg Foundation and already I was sent to cover one of our IRIS Nights lectures, a favorite among dedicated fans.

That night Mark Laita spoke about his new photobook, Created Equal, a collection of black and white photo diptychs contrasting the portraits of everyday Americans by putting, for example, a picture of Baptist minister next to members of the Ku Klux Klan or nuns next to prostitutes. The inspiration for the project is incredible: Laita left behind his polished life in the advertising world to find the real America he grew up with, the one he wanted to make sure the world would never forget.

But what stuck out to me was not necessarily his professional or captivating photos (which are absolutely incredible) but the way he engaged us in the process.  I found myself leaning forward, completely engrossed in every word, waiting on the edge of my seat for the next description of the photo pair.

His tales of having breakfast with the Hell's Angels, coercing an Amish man into being photographed or becoming best buds with some weed farmers had me and the rest of the audience rolling in laughter. It felt like you were getting to know his subjects personally and the portraits became more than pictures, they were real life people who were living in the same country as myself.   But that was the point.  He wanted to elevate the raw and rugged America to a place of glamor and importance.

"I was trying to find hidden gems that are normally overlooked," said Laita during his presentation, "It's not about finding these grand/great people, it's about finding the ordinary people and making them look great."

Later someone from the audience asked him what statement he was trying to make with comparing nuns to prostitutes.  Laita just smiled and said he meant to pass no judgment; he simply wanted to ask the question, "How then can two girls grow up in the same county and have two completely different fates?"

And from where I was sitting it was mission accomplished for every picture I saw I asked myself the same question. There are two men who look strikingly similar and I asked myself so how is it that one became a CEO and the other a janitor?   

Learn more about Mark on his official website.

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

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.

Recent Developments - Michael Nichols releases iPad App!


Word came around to us that one of our featured photographers from EXTREME EXPOSURE is moving from the jungle to your iPad...seriously.

Most photography iPad apps so far have focuses on managing pictures, manipulating pictures, organizing photoshoots (timing them, producing them and even invoicing and getting model releases!). There is definitely a different target audience (with a very different skill set) than with iPhone apps (you say Hipstamatic, I say TiltShift Generator).

And then, of the growing number of photography 'fan' apps, most have been "iVersions" of publications. None of the rare apps that focus on the work of a single photographer have the depth and breadth as Mike's - extensive photogalleries, behind the scenes videos and access to more than 20 years of his work.

We can't help but take pride in one of our exhibitors - who is known for his long treks in the remote corners of the world's jungles - taking the lead in new technologies.

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

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