Palm Springs Photo Festival

The festival is off to a strong start despite the desert heat.

Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm Springs Photo Festival

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - The evening program here is held "under the stars," as festival director Jeff Dunas likes to say. And in the crystal clear desert air of Palm Springs, the stars themselves are something to behold. But they couldn't hold a candle to imagery shown last night around the swimming pool at the Karokia hotel.

Robert Glenn Ketchum led off with a look at his nature photography from Alaska. Actually, it isn't really correct to call Ketchum's work nature photography, though he does indeed capture beautiful landscapes and impressive wildlife in his pictures. Ketchum might more properly be called an environmental activist rather than a photographer. In fact, there should be a new phrase coined for what he does. Let's call him a conservation photographer.

Ketchum's images have been used to lobby members of congress in the ongoing fight to preserve vital areas of Alaska from development. He played a major role in the effort to save the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska. More recently he has been documenting a planned copper mine that could result in years of environmental degradation.

Following Ketchum, the fine-art photographer Jock Sturges presented a stirring career overview. Sturges, of course, has been the center of controversy at various times over the past 20 years for his nudes of families, including children. In confronting critics, his best weapon is his body of work itself, which is timelessly beautiful. Best known for his black-and-white photographs, Sturges last night presented a number of color images as well.

Work by four photographers were also presented at the evening projection. Those exhibiting were Dominic Rouse, who creates surrealist constructions; James Whitlow Delano, whose images of Japan included a mysterious photo of a newsstand; John Paul Jespersen, who turns landscapes into abstractions, and Katherine MacDaid, who captured the life of an elderly couple (see photo gallery for images).

Earlier in the day, Eikoh Hosoe led yet another workshop, this one in nearby Joshua Tree National Park. The heat was oppressive, there were cactus all over, and everyone on the trip was warned by park rangers to look out for the four different kinds of rattlesnakes in the area. It was tough going for the photographers -- but even harder for the models, who did it without shoes (or clothes).

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - If the first full day of the Palm Springs Photo Festival was any indication, there is a great hunger for serious photographer workshops on the West Coast. The desert heat -- in the high 90s -- didn't seem to stop anyone here from attending what is a busy schedule of workshops and portfolio reviews.

The heat certainly didn't present an obstacle to the students of the Eikoh Hosoe workshop at the Korakia hotel, the headquarters of the festival. They were gathered around a swimming pool filled with three nude models. And that was at 10 in the morning.

Hosoe is one of the star attractions at the festival, organized by Los Angeles-based photographer Jeff Dunas and supported by Hossein Farmani, director of the Lucie Awards. Other photographers here include nature photographer Robert Glenn Ketchum, portrait photographer Robert Maxwell, photojournalist David Hume Kennerly, and the great rock and roll photographer Henry Diltz.

There are a number of curators and teachers on the staff as well, including Tim B. Wride of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Colin Westerbeck, former curator of photography at the Chicago Art Institute, Steven Cohen of the Steven Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles, David Fahey of the Fahey-Klein Gallery in Los Angeles, and Anthony Bannon of the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.

One of the highlights of the first day came at a symposium held at the Palm Springs Art Museum, when a number of those curators discussed "The Business of Fine Art." Wride noted that the recent skyrocketing of prices for photography has meant that public institutions like his have largely been priced out of the art market. Renowned collector Manfred Heiting, also on the panel, observed that such a development could eventually stifle the market. "There will be no ultimate destination for photographs without museums," he said.

The day ended with an evening presentation by photojournalist Colin Finley and a career overview by Robert Maxwell, who has to be one of the most laid-back (and finest) photographers working today. Tomorrow, Maxwell will be leading a workshop titled "The Signature Portrait Style."

The presentation began with a projection of winning work submitted by photographers around the country prior to the festival and judged by the festival staff. The first day's winners were Carol Watson, Chris Raechker, Cole Thompson, and Dan Milnor (see photo gallery for images).

We'll be reporting from the festival all week, so check back often.

Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm Springs Photo Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm Springs Photo Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm Springs Photo Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm Springs Photo Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm Springs Photo Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm Springs Photo Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm Springs Photo Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm-Springs-Photo-Festival
Palm Springs Photo Festival
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