One of the primary reasons you’d want to visit the Annenberg Space for Photography is to take in not only the architecture of inside and outside of the building in which the works are displayed, but also of the surrounding buildings in this modern Century City concrete and glass landscape.
That’s not to say that the show there–Pictures of the Year International–isn’t first rate, a trip into 2008 of the likes you’ve never seen before. The images were chosen from 45,000 entries submitted by photographers all over the world, photojournalism’s star images, images that are both complex and troubling. You come out of the show knowing that the world in all of it’s beauty has its pain and suffering, which never seems to be resolved. My favorite picture in the show–an 81-year-old cancer victim dressed semi-erotically standing in a most content fashion–was probably the most heartening of all the images shown. The rest were your standard newspaper and news magazine type photos that teach you about how photographers must jump into the fray they see, often at their own peril (you learn that from the digital video show that’s shown several times a day in the main room of the space).
Back to the space, it seems to roll and glide, curves leading to crooks each of which has a photograph displayed. As a visitor, I felt like a marble on a Chinese Checker board–moving and stopping to look at the next great photograph. There’s ample seating at comfy tables and chairs in back where you can sit and relax, listening and watching a photo show about the uniqueness and diversity of LA from several photojournalists’ points of view.
While peering into the photos, I soaked in their composition, depths of field and exposure. The first I became aware of is that having blackouts and blown highlights in a photo isn’t necessarily bad, it’s the picture that’s important. Errors in exposure seem almost natural, part of the process. I can see how when a photojournalist throws himself into a riot or bomb blast, getting a sharp shot is the number one priority. There’s little time to do little else, except keep shooting, and praying that you both stay alive to be able to see the shots no matter how they turn out, and feel lucky if you get a winning one.by