"You go out thinking you're going to say something about the big picture. Inevitably you end up saying something about regular people." -- David Guttenfelder - 2013 ICP Infinity Award for Photojournalism
On May 1st, 2013, the International Center of Photography (ICP) hosted the 2013 ICP Infinity Awards at Chelsea Piers in New York City, honoring one board member and seven photographers in what is considered one of the most respected series of awards for photographic excellence internationally.
The precursor of ICP began with Cornell Capa in 1966, who established the International Fund for Concerned Photography in memory of his brother, Robert Capa, considered one of the foremost war photographers of his time, and to this day respected widely for his continued influence on war and crisis photography. In 1974, Cornell established ICP in New York City to act as a center for photographers and a place where a dialogue could be fostered concerning the significance of the image and its role in wider culture.
In looking at the names of past winners, these are some of the most influential, and ones whom many might recognize: Elliot Erwitt, Mary Ellen Mark, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, among others.
Of this year's winners, many are ones who perhaps might be known most widely in the photographic world, rather in the mainstream of popular culture. However, and as the point of the awards suggests, whether widely known or not currently among the mainstream, their images and/or roles in photography are deeply indicative of distinct historical or cultural importance, in many cases representing a vanguard of current thinking or perceptions that are critical to today's discourse on the significance of the photographic image.
For those who may not be familiar with the photographers and others honored (please see the full list below), or who were not at the awards to see the program itself, ICP commissioned a series of introductory short films on each of the award recipients, featuring interviews with each amidst the context of their work, past and present. For this, ICP's Trustee, Renee Harbers Liddell enlisted multiple national Emmy Award-winning MediaStorm. Given from the end of January to May 1st, MediaStorm under the leadership of principal Brian Storm, traveled to varying locations, garnering both extensive interview footage and representative archival photography among each of the Award winners.
One of the most important aspects of MediaStorm's coverage of the ICP award recipient is what has become the company's hallmark: offering what seems to be an intimate view behind certain stories and histories in what could be considered some of the best examples of today's visual storytelling. From work for National Geographic and Discovery to Crisis Guides for the Council on Foreign Relations, the UN Foundation, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting or Medecins Sans Frontiers, MediaStorm has been able to humanize what may otherwise seem to be overwhelming subject matter or content, distilling interviews, film content, and images into something that seems distinctly personal and human.
In this case, MediaStorm and its producers, cinematographer, designers, editors, and interns collaborated on individual stories and the personal histories of each photographer or other award recipient (such as in the case of ICP Trustee Award recipient, board member Pat Schoenfeld), offering a nuanced and substantive backstory to images and projects that marked the reasons for ICP's recognition.
In seeing each of the photographers and recipients as MediaStorm portrays them, there is no question as to why these men and women have been honored. Each story is unique; certain nuances are warmly given life, and each recipient seems to find a comfort before the camera, often giving intensely personal insights into the foundations of his or her work and the significance it has not just for the viewer, but for the creators of the images or projects themselves.
To Brian Storm, also the executive producer of the presentations, what seemed most important was the depth of the work -- and the capacity for some of the photographers who had once primarily been photojournalists, to respond to any sense of limitation by allowing themselves to often grow in different directions, something he and the others on his team found inspiring.
This inspiration is evident; by tapping deeply into these recipients' own personal stories and perspectives, these introductory films make very real the sense that what we see is as much a window into the photographer as it is into the story, or the vision of reality he or she is depicting. And with all of the emphasis on the current capacities offered by technology, including in the photographic medium, technology itself does not transcend the very human natures of those who use it. Technology can only enhance or facilitate what the photographer chooses to see, and subsequently document, based on his or her own perspective.
(Of particular note: Cornell Capa Lifetime Achievement Award recipient David Goldblatt, and his body of work on Apartheid in his native South Africa (see the Getty acquisition here); David Guttenfelder for the Photojournalism Award and his extensive work on North Korea (see Time LightBox profile here), having been a war photographer before becoming current chief photographer for Asia for the Associated Press (AP); Special Award recipient, Jeff Bridges (also featured in the New York Times Lens Blog here), for his body of work taking photographs on the sets of some of his most iconic films, including The Big Lebowski.)
For those who would like to see that inspiration, a look at these films and in hearing these image makers' histories, inspirations, philosophies and intentions, it in fact challenges the viewer to look at photography and visual storytelling more deeply, and even more philosophically, suggesting that when we look at any image, there is much more to it than what we might consider as its face value.
And this is, again, as it should be, especially when we're reminded that the best images ever seen, and the ones that have moved us the most, from the very first photographs taken to those honored by these awards, were first seen by the man or woman behind the camera.
For further information about the International Center of Photography (ICP): http://www.icp.org
THE 2013 ICP INFINITY AWARDS RECIPIENTS
Cornell Capa Lifetime Achievement: David Goldblatt
ICP Trustees Award: Pat Schoenfeld
Young Photographer: Kitra Cahana
Art: Mishka Henner
Publication: Cristina de Middel, "The Afronauts"
Photojournalism: David Guttenfelder
Applied/Fashion/Advertising: Erik Madigan Heck
Special presentation: Academy Award-winning actor and photographer Jeff Bridges
2013 ICP Infinity Awards Presentation Films - for MediaStorm:
MediaStorm producer Eric Maierson handled Jeff Bridges and the final edit of Pat Schoenfeld. MediaStorm cinematographer was Rick Gershon. Jon Kasbe produced Mishka Henner, Erik Madigan Heck and Kitra Cahana. Josh Davis produced David Goldblatt, Cristina de Middel and David Guttenfelder. Former MediaStorm intern Caitlyn Greene produced Pat Schoenfeld. Joe Fuller handled all the motion graphics. Lisa Jamhoury handled all the copyediting and social media. Tim Klimowicz and Shameel Arafin: design and development of the site launch.
Further information about MediaStorm may be found here: http://www.mediastorm.com
MediaStorm is a partner of the IIPFoundation/MIPJ.