On Today’s Show: Leica, Sebastião Salgardo, Helmut Newton and Art Photography in the Age of Instagram; Gay Marriage and the Restyling of an Institution

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Sebastião Salgado, Kafue National Park (Elephant against light), Zambia. 2010. Gelatin silver print. ©Amazonas Images. Courtesy of Peter Fetterman Gallery. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

On today’s DnA, photography that’s meant to last in an age of Instagram and Snapchat. We look at Leica’s effort to woo “photographers that are actually printing their work,” as well as two LA shows of master black/white photographers with very different visions of humanity: Sebastião Salgardo and Helmut Newton. With James Agnew, Peter Fetterman, Patricia Lanza and David Fahey. Plus, what does the expansion of gay marriage mean for the design of weddings? Shai Tertner talks about restyling an institution.

Gay Marriage and the Restyling of an Institution

Wedding reception with plastic chairs

It is just days after the momentous Supreme Court decision on DOMA and Prop 8, and already couples are rushing to the altar. But should they be taking a breather and giving their wedding style choices a bit more consideration? Maybe, says Shai Tertner.

Shai TertnerTertner, left, runs Shiraz Events, and plans weddings for both gay and straight couples, from his offices in London, New York, Miami and Los Angeles. DnA caught up with him in his Miami office and asked, what does the expansion of gay marriage mean for the design of weddings?

Shai points out that many gay people “don’t grow up thinking about their weddings,” so they don’t have fantasies of the dress and location built in since childhood. Plus, he says many gay couples are mature and well-traveled when they marry so they bring strong and sophisticated ideas about the imagery they want (see one of his settings, above.)

Notwithstanding some less than fashion-forward gay weddings in the last week, Tertner predicts that over the coming months we will see an explosion of creativity in wedding concepts along with the explosion of gay marriage, that’s bound to influence the look of matrimony, across the culture.

Leica and the Art of Photography in the Age of Instagram and Snapchat

Venerable camera company Leica last week unveiled its new Leica Store and Gallery Los Angeles. As you step through its door on Beverly at Robertson in the heart of the West Hollywood Design District, you are greeted by a vast, aluminum clad, “Fake Leica” (above), by Chinese artist Liao Yibai, that’s for sale to anyone with a spare million dollars.

Black and red shelvingOn the ground floor of the 8000 square feet space (designed by Helen Watts of Interior Architects), cameras are displayed like jewels on black and red shelving; upstairs there is a gallery showing work by notable Leica users (currently on exhibit: Mary Ellen Mark, Seal, the Grammy Award-winning singer and Yariv Milchan.)

The store also includes a library of collectable photography books curated by Magnum photographer Martin Parr; and it will offer its “Akademie” of photography workshops that include technical instruction from professional photographers, and walkabouts in the neighborhood, learning how to shoot.

James AgnewClearly this is positioning Leica as something other than a store that simply sells very good quality cameras and lenses (read about why Leica’s Rangefinder is a design classic). In an era when everyone can be a photographer, and many people are dispensing with cameras in favor of smartphones, the company is connecting high quality photography with glamor and with rarified art.

Millions of people might now be able snap an image and post it on Instagram or send it into the ether on the even more evanescent Snapchat, but, the Leica store infers, good photography is meant to last. As the store manager James Agnew, right, tells DnA, “there’s a growing number of photographers who want to print their work and share their work. The new store, he says, “would like to be a place of celebration of photography.”

Sebastião Salgado: Genesis 

If you are going to open a “superstore” celebrating photography, LA is a natural place to do so. This community loves photography, both moving and still, in movies, in marketing, and as art on walls, a fact driven home by the crowds that gathered for two exhibits that opened this week, both by photographers who’ve used intense and stylized black and white photography to tell very different stories about the human condition and its environment.

Sebastião Salgado, Iceberg between the Paulet Island and the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. 2005. Gelatin silver print. ©Amazonas Images. Courtesy of Peter Fetterman Gallery. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

One of them is Sebastião Salgado, the Brazilian photographer who worked as an economist before picking up a camera and creating extraordinary images — among them the series Workers and Migrations and Portraits — that depict economic injustice with a force that confirms the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Fetterman2aNow, his LA dealer, Peter Fetterman, left, has unveiled a show of Salgado’s Genesis project, a collection of images of people, animals and nature that have been as yet untouched by the forces of industrialization. The series was inspired by Salgado’s own work, with his work partner and wife Leila, in regenerating the ecosystem of the farmland he had grown up on.

Peter Fetterman explains the project, both its activist origins — “it’s Salgado’s wake-up call” to save what’s left untarnished of the planet — and the technical accomplishments that make Salgado so highly esteemed as a photographer. He emphasizes the importance of printing, saying that to achieve the depth and gloss of each of the images on display, the discerning Salgado will have tossed tens that did not meet his satisfaction.

Genesis, by Sebastião Salgado, is on display at the Peter Fetterman Gallery at Bergamot Station through October 19.

Helmut Newton: White Women, Sleepless Nights, Big Nudes

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Here They Come II, Paris from the series Big Nudes, 1981; ©Estate of Helmut Newton. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Also opened last week is a show of work by another photographer, the late Helmut Newton, who also specialized in high contrast, black and white photography that dramatized humanity in his own, disarming way. Helmut Newton: White Women, Sleepless Nights, Big Nudes is an exhibit co-produced by Manfred Heiting and Newton’s widow, June, his lifelong collaborator. The show was first exhibited in Houston and is now at the Annenberg Space For Photography in Century City.

Newton, who died at age 83 in a car accident on Sunset Boulevard in 2004, is known best for his very distinctive, some say fetishized, fashion photos of powerful looking women, often nude but for high heels or sunglasses. He typically found ways to provoke and intrigue, exemplified in the photo, right, Here They Come II, which, blown up huge on the wall at the Annenberg, sits alongside an image of the same four striking, striding women, nude except for their killer shoes.

Helmut Newton, Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles, March 1985 ©David Fahey from the exhibit film Provocateur (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

It features images created between 1971 and 1981, the pre-AIDS era of sexual and social experimentation, that pushed boundaries in ways that seemed shocking and adventurous at the time. But now, say his admirers, his work has stood the test of time, not only for its genuine eroticism and unique storytelling voice, but for its technical mastery in terms of composition and use of light. Hear more about Newton’s work and his mark on the history of photography, as well as social history, from Patricia Lanza, director of talent and content at the Annenberg Space for Photography, and David Fahey, Newton’s longtime friend and dealer.

By the way. . .

Brandon tries to carry genesis

KCRW’s web and photography expert Brandon Nightingale alerted DnA that for those that want to shoot like the masters, Leica makes the M Monochrom, a digital camera that only shoots in black and white and costs a mere $8,000.

He also reminds DnA that Taschen makes a colossal, limited edition reprint of Salgado’s Genesis. See him here, left, resting as he struggles to get it up a steep flight of stairs, to a friend’s house. The 740 page, 18.4 x 27.6 in volume, complete with its own Tadao Ando-designed stand, will only set you back $4,000.