Blog: Storytelling

Annenberg Space for Photography Exhibit and Film “No Strangers” opens in LA on November 17

THE ANNENBERG SPACE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY PRESENTS NO STRANGERS: ANCIENT WISDOM IN A MODERN WORLD OPENING NOVEMBER 17, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA (August 23, 2012)–The Annenberg Space for Photography is pleased to announce its next exhibit – no strangers: ancient wisdom in a modern world, a group show about the wonder of culture and the plight of indigenous people throughout the world. no strangers is guest curated by esteemed anthropologist, author and photographer Wade Davis. This exhibit opens to the public in Los Angeles on November 17, 2012 and runs through February 24, 2013.

no strangers explores the ways cultures express a shared humanity and navigate the circle of life. It poses a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? When the people of the world answer this question, they do so in 7,000 unique voices. Tragically, half of these may be silenced within a generation or two. At risk is our human legacy, a vast archive of knowledge and expertise. Rediscovering a new appreciation for the diversity of culture is a crucial challenge that should be faced.

Photographers featured in the exhibit are Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher, Wade Davis, Chris Johns, Lynn Johnson, Steve McCurry, Randy Olson, Chris Rainier and Hamid Sardar.

…The exhibit will feature an original short documentary produced by Arclight Productions for the Annenberg Space for Photography. The film will be shown in vivid detail on two 14’ by 7’ screens in 4K resolution. Filmed in locations throughout the world, from Washington, DC to British Columbia, Canada to London to Mongolia, the documentary will feature additional photographs, interviews and behind the scenes footage with exhibit photographers, indigenous people and experts. The film will examine indigenous cultures through photography’s lens and encourage viewers to consider ancient traditions in a new context.

The themes explored in the exhibit include: The Circle of Life, Our Shared Origins,
Ancient Wisdom, Sacred Geography, Endangered, Globalization, Ritual & Passages, Beauty, Quest for Spirit and Joy of Culture.

Wild Horses Remix – When a Photographer’s Life and Hollywood Intertwine

The black stallion reared up to face the helicopter. Dust and brush pelted me as I braced, pointing my camera upward as it hovered, bearing down on me. Sun streaked into my lens. It looked near perfect…

Of course it looked near perfect.  It was a MOVIE—not an authentic life encounter with real wild horses and helicopters like I experienced when I was working on a story for National Geographic magazine on mustangs.

(And… no, that’s not me. She’s an actress (Mireille Enos) who plays Brad Pitt’s wife in an upcoming zombie movie, and she is the heroine in this film.)

Although there were long hours waiting to shoot pictures, there wasn’t the uncertainty I feel in real life wondering “if” it will happen but in this case “when” it would happen. There were a few parallels to my life, but I still am a bit mystified how I ended up on a Hollywood movie set. The manufactured scenes looked as realistic as the real-life Western roundups I witnessed with horses, helicopters and wranglers.

I can always tell it is the end of a semester when students are on deadline and write me with a list of questions for a class paper. They want to know where is the most exciting place I’ve ever been, what is my favorite picture and how they can become a “National Geographic photographer.” The Internet makes me accessible. Randy and I also get numerous requests to donate photographs to fundraise for worthy causes. Some get answered. Others don’t. When I am on the road for weeks at a time, emails like this can get lost in the shuffle.

I kept one such email request in the IN box, however, and read it months later. A woman making a film wanted to use some of my photographs—her subject was near and dear to my heart—wild horses.

We corresponded and spoke on the phone.  I heard her passion and engaged. One thing led to another and all of a sudden I found myself on a plane to LA to photograph on a movie set with some of the most impressive, talented people in Hollywood film.  I have to admit that part of what captured my attention is that Stephanie Martin co-wrote a script with her Wellesley classmate Jessica Walsh to point out the issues surrounding mustangs in the American West. She happened onto my web site and found some inspiration and formed a story where a magazine photographer has an encounter with a mustang named Phantom and ends up photographing a BLM round up of wild horses. No, it isn’t about me specifically–I wasn’t arrested (that would be EARLIER in my career) and I didn’t grow up in Nevada (Indiana), but I was intrigued that my life and my photographs of wild horses triggered a reaction from her, and something told me this would be an interesting experience.

Stephanie (on far left in above photo, next to me) who has made a career as a Cinematographer in features, shorts, documentaries and commercials, was accepted into an American Film Institute directing workshop for women. She is a sincere, strong-willed, persuasive and focused woman who was following her dream to direct—but little did I know that she is also married to one of THE MOST talented and admired cinematographers in the world (Robert Richardson—google him) who won Academy Awards for Hugo (last year), also for The Aviator and for JFK.  He’s worked with directors Martin Scorsese, John Sayles, Rob Reiner, Oliver Stone, Barry Levinson, Robert De Niro, Errol Morris, Robert Redford, and Quintin Tarantino and has an amazing eye for drama and light. Bob was going to shoot Stephie’s film.

So this short 12-15 minute film with a budget raised partly on Kickstarter was in reality a pretty big production of some of the most gifted assistant directors, editors, camera operators, producers, actors that anyone could assemble. They were all DONATING their time and talents to make a great little movie that might turn into a big-time full-length feature film. At any one time there were dozens of people on the set—but there were so many friends and co-workers behind the scenes—I am guessing there were 60-70 people involved in the one-week shoot.

My role was to photograph images that the heroine photographer shoots in the film (Mireille Enos, TV show “The Killing” who also stars with Brad Pitt in “World War Z” is shown above)…to coach her to be a believable photographer (she was a natural)…and to photograph behind the scenes (much fun but a delicate dance). Bob let me set up a camera anywhere around him—under him—over his shoulder, beside him—of course just not in front of him. He was aware of everything going on around him all the time. Not a particularly willing subject, he tolerated me making photographs of him. I think he understood this was Stephanie’s moment and he wanted it to work.

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Strange Family Interactions with the Country of Japan

The famous photographer, Robert Capa, was a guest on my grandfather’s radio show in New York in the 1940s. The book he is holding is on my shelf at home just below a shelf of the books that my grandfather wrote.

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John Moore Video

We’ve known John since he was an intern at the Pittsburgh Press where we all worked… We’ve vacationed in Africa together and kept up pretty well until he started covering conflict zones… and for years, we would only see him on CNN every now and then when they would show a brick slamming into his head in SLO-MO while he was covering some uprising somewhere in the world. He was nearly blown up with Benazir Bhutto… and… and… and…

It’s nice to finally see a video of what he’s been up to…

Ira Glass on Storytelling

I first saw this on Bob Sacha’s site.