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

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.

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

Viewfinder

We have heard a lot of great chatter amongst our Annenberg Space for Photography attendees. After compiling some quotes, listening to what visitors thought about the Space and our lecturers, here is what they had to say:

The Andrew Southam lecture

"Loved it! It was so nice to listen to someone talk about art and communicate it so well... instead of just telling stories he got into how he did it and why." "I love the space. It is such a dream for photographers to not have to pay a lot to see such wonderful photos. I need to come and spend a couple hours here."
(Amy Cantrell, photographer, attending 2nd IRIS Nights lecture)


"It was really inspiring. I loved that he was so real about everything."
(Madison Enloe, aspiring photographer, attending her 2nd IRIS Nights lecture)

"[The Space] is an extraordinary gift to LA for both professional photographers and non-photographers. It allows them to interact. We are really gifted to have Annenberg here. Everything is really on the mark."
(Chad Slattery, regular attendee)


"I loved it! I am a non-photographer, unlike my husband. But that is the gift. There are a range of subjects and you don't have to be a photographer to love it - just a human being."
(Donna Lee Slattery, non-photographer, regular attendee)

The next time you're here tell Viewfinder what you think.

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)

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