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Luminance Session Four: The Light Tamers

The first day of Luminance ended with presentations from three very different photographers. Their presentations were accompanied by strong visuals from their portfolios. We’ve included links to their work below, we highly recommend taking a look.

Barbara Davidson opened the session showing her Pulitzer Prize winning work “Caught in the Crossfire.” This body of work, shot over three years, shows the perils of gang violence in Los Angeles. Just because it wasn’t a traditional breaking news story, she thought it was an important story to cover and she decided to take it on as a long-term documentary project.

Davidson believes gang violence is one of the social ills affecting the inner cities of our country. “We don’t only have to go to Afghanistan and Iraq to cover injustices,” she says. These injustices are happening here in our backyards, she says. “It’s easy for us to ignore it in our own country because a lot of us don’t live in these neighborhoods.”

Barbara Davidson Luminance

Barbara Davidson speaks at Luminance. Photo by Michael Treola.

Davidson wanted to do the project to raise awareness about the violence. So, even though it was sometimes a “very dark and lonely” journey, she continued with the project because she believed in the story. She photographed and interviewed families like the family of four-year-old Josue Hercules, who was hit by a stray bullet in the back of the head when outside playing with his syster, and 17-year-old Edwin Cobbin who was robbed, shot and killed in his front yard while lifting weights.

When she completed it, the Los Angeles Times dedicated a full seven pages to the story. She also created a multimedia piece of the work. After seeing the power of producing this multimedia piece, she said she’d never do just a still piece again.

Peter Yang spoke next about his style of portrait photography. He has photographed celebrities from presidents, to TV icons, to olympic athletes.

Peter Yang Luminance

Peter Yang speaks at Luminance. Photo by Michael Treola.

Yang had the crowd chuckling throughout his presentation with stories of his shoots and his lessons learned. What he learned from shooting Donald Trump, for example, is “happiness in life is just loving yourself.”

From photographing two presidents he learned, when nervous on a shoot with little time, rather than shoot a lot of photos, take a moment to stop and reflect on the shoot and have a conversation.

All in all he encouraged the audience to be creative on a shoot, maybe by adding a sandwich or some taxidermy to spice it up.

The last speaker of the day was Michael Muller, a commercial photographer and wildlife specialist. Muller has been shooting for 27 years and says he still feels like he knows nothing about photography. He sees the key to success as being passionate. “Follow your gut. Follow your heart. Don’t follow the dollar signs,” he says.

Michael Muller Luminance

Michael Muller speaks at Luminance. Photo by Michael Treola.

Unlike many photographers who specialize in just one field, Muller goes where he is interested. As a result he has found great success in photographing across genres. He enjoys being innovative, he says, and has found success in bringing crews and sets underwater to shoot both commercial photography and wildlife.

We’ll be posting highlights from the Luminance conference tomorrow as well. Don’t forget to follow the conference on Twitter at @MediaStorm and #Luminance. Check out the full list of speakers and agenda on the Luminance website.

See highlights and photos from each session of the conference on our blog.

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