Eric Beecroft has kindly volunteered to report on the going-ons at the VII Seminar held at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena (November 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 2007).
Here is Eric's first report:
"The day began with Kent Koberstein, former director of photography for National Geographic,delivering his keynote address as a dedication-cum-eulogy for the recently passed VII member Alexandra Boulat. His words, accompanied by a projection of her work, were poignant; both those who knew her and those who only knew her through her work were deeply touched. Christopher Morris, the first VII photographer to present his work, was visibly shaken after the speech, and had to compose himself before he could continue.
Christopher's work focused on his documenting of the war in Iraq in 2003 through his time as a White House photographer, culminating in his almost-creepy work of Republican America (from his book "My America") and his short film/parody on a certain president, "the Dear Leader". His work was masterful, well executed, and compelling as usual.
Joachim Ladefoged followed, showcasing a diverse range of projects- from S&M culture to German punks, dying fishermen's' life ways in Atlantic Canada to body building in Denmark, to Katrina a year later - a story he photographed that wasn't run at the last minute because Pluto's demise as a planet was deemed more newsworthy. He ended with his seminal work "the Albanians". Joachim's talents are obvious, and he seemed to have the golden touch: whatever he shot, in color or B&W, was stunning. He's been all digital for four years; and his advice to all in the audience was stay curious to the world around you.
An afternoon panel discussion on the rise of multimedia was packed, with converging and diverging opinions on the rise of this new and exciting form. Questions and topics ranged from the retention of copyright for multimedia pieces and audio gathered in the field, to creating a unique multimedia style, to keeping the skill sets of photographer, and the issue of audio and video separate but still working together. What no one wanted to hear was that still photography was dead but that everyone needed to learn Final Cut Pro; thankfully this message was heartily endorsed by most in attendance. The consensus was that it's good, even necessary, to have multiple skill sets, but you'll need to be best at one thing (in this case, photography).
The final presentation of the day was by Lauren Greenfield. She showed powerful work from her Thin and Girl Culture work; the clips format were particularly moving- perhaps the most of the entire day, at least for me. This is definitely conflict work of a different sort, but powerful nonetheless. She premiered her short film "Kids and Money"and it received a standing ovation, and indication to its quality and insight. It was really funny with much riotous laughter among the seriousness of the message. This piece is a must-see.
As always the attendees were stellar; very cool people from as far afield as Cambodia, South Africa, and Vancouver. I drove 11 hours with 12 teenage photographers from the Walden School to attend the seminar, and it's been worth every minute- for myself and them. Sometimes this business can engender some serious ego; not in this group. All the photographers were incredibly kind, open, interested in the attendees, funny, and genuine- no egos or big heads, just curiosity and a drive to keep pushing thr work forward. A special thanks to those who went to dinner with my (eager and starstruck) students : Stanley Greene, Chris Morris and his wife, Ben Lowy, Rick Loomis, Boogie, Joachim Ladefoged, Marcus Bleasdale, Stephanie Sinclair, Jessica Dimmock, and everybody else. It was a marvelous meal, with inspiration, advice, and good vibes all around.
Tomorrow I'll be back; on the schedule is Stanley Greene, Ron Haviv, Antonin Kratchkovil, Gary Knight, Marcus Bleadale, Stephanie Sinclair, Jessica Dimmock, and Boogie- I'm sure it will be another wonderful day."