One of the themes that wound its way through some of yesterday’s talks at Luminance was perfection. A few speakers took aim squarely at our ideas of perfection, whether it’s our ideas of perfection in the human face or form (Amy Dresser, master retoucher) or in the photographic artifacts themselves. Kevin Connor, the President and Co-Founder of Fourandsix presented his systemic approach to determining the authenticity of a photograph (File, Footprints, and Flaws), and Lucas Buick (co-founder of Hipstamatic) urged us to “forget about perfection” and “bring back the fun.” Another theme was authenticity. David Burnett, veteran photojournalist, earned the name “coolest photographer at the Olympics” for his large film camera set up. Allen Murabayashi, co-founder of PhotoShelter, asked him about his use of film in the digital age, “Is film a gimmick?” to which Burnett replied, “Everything’s a gimmick!”
The standout speaker (for me and many other attendees I spoke with) was astronaut Donald Pettit. He revealed that his favorite lens is an 8mm fisheye, the better to capture the cramped (and very shiny!) spaces on board the space ship (space ship! How cool is that?!). He demonstrated how culture, technology and geography combine different kinds of light and the way the light is distributed to paint pictures of our cities from space. At the break I spoke to him about Neil Armstrong’s photography skills and the kind of insane pressure that was on him to get accurate and in-focus images from the moon. Using a Hasselblad, the only photos of Armstrong on the moon are in the reflection of Buzz Aldrin’s helmet.