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!

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)

Lauren Greenfield Comes Full Circle With BEAUTY CULTURE

While BEAUTY CULTURE continues to break attendance records here at the Annenberg Space for Photography, we thought now would be a good time as any to publish a post on one of featured photographers, Lauren Greenfield and the documentary film, also titled BEAUTY CULTURE, that accompanies the show. The 30-minute film was directed by the award-winning photographer herself.

Produced by her husband and producing partner, Frank Evers, Greenfield filmed the documentary over the course of several months in Los Angeles, New York and Paris. Her intent was to create a film that focused on the sociological and psychological perceptions of beauty from a cross-cultural viewpoint.

Regarding her work on BEAUTY CULTURE Greenfield says, "A lot of the things I photograph are interconnected: from the young girls and the kind of precocious sexualization of young girls, to the vanity of teenagers and the kind of struggle to establish your identity as a teenager, to women and older women facing the challenge of getting older in a youth-obsessed culture. So this project, BEAUTY CULTURE, allowed me to kind of bring the work full circle and look at all aspects."

The film has been met with resounding praise from many guests here at the photography space citing Los Angeles--with its Hollywood machine and incessant promotion of the billion-dollar cosmetics industry--as an ideal location for a film addressing warped ideals of beauty.

BEAUTY CULTURE is certainly not Greenfield's first foray into filmmaking. Her documentary Thin premiered on HBO in 2006, also screening at the Sundance Film Festival. A film dealing with eating disorders of young women, Thin went on to earn Greenfield an Emmy nomination for Best Director of Non-Fiction Programming. Her follow-up doc kids + money, also broadcast on HBO, won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the AFI Film Festival among other honors.

The film, which features interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis, Tyen, Crystal Renn and many others, screens throughout the day at the Space. Make sure you come see it before the exhibit closes next month.

As for Greenfield, she will return to the Space as our IRIS Nights lecturer on Thursday, October 13, in what is sure to be a standing-room only event!

Lauren Greenfield Returns To IRIS Nights

If you're one of the nearly 50,000 patrons who has visited Beauty Culture since its May opening, we're betting there's a good chance you've departed the Space electrified by filmmaker and featured photographer Lauren Greenfield's documentary of the same name. We were thrilled to learn more about Greenfield's career during her recent IRIS Nights lecture at the Photography Space, as well as the inspirations behind her photographic and filmed accomplishments.

Greenfield was all smiles as she and her husband (and documentary producer) Frank Evers, arrived at the Space. This was Greenfield's second IRIS Nights lecture. She was also part of the L8S ANG3LES lineup!

Just before showtime, IRIS Nights attendees wrapped themselves all the way through the exhibit hall anticipating the opening of our gallery seating for Greenfield's lecture.

One of Greenfield's first images in her retrospective was of Las Vegas showgirl Anne-Margaret. A note taped to the entertainer's mirror reads "I approve of myself." This is one of many Greenfield images involving women that address issues dealing with self-esteem and self-acceptance.

Greenfield also spoke about an image taken at a beauty pageant for southern belles. The photo captures the contestants in traditional gowns and poses, but juxtaposing these traditions--the girls also flash garter belts on all of their legs.

Greenfield talked the above image in which a young model walked down the street, while being ogled by three passing men - one of them a hard-hat wearing construction worker. While the audience laughed at Greenfield's retelling of the story behind the picture, she joked that we may be responding with the laughter, but the men's wives probably had a far less humorous response!

Greenfield's work obviously inspires much discussion with audience members and she was happy to address a number of questions from lecture attendees regarding the psychological and sociological issues behind her images.

Guest perused copies of Greenfield's best-selling and award-winning books including Girl Culture, Fast Forward and Thin before meeting her for a book-signing in our photography library.

Visitors had an incredible opportunity to chat one-on-one with Greenfield during the book signing.

Meanwhile, Evers engages guests in conversation while waiting in the book-signing queue.

Greenfield happily greeted fans as several photographers maneuver through the crowd to capture the best angle. Despite the often intense and emotional images that she captures, Greenfield and her fans had a delightful evening and we certainly did too! Thank you so much, Lauren!

You can watch the lecture on our site by clicking here.

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

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