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Since 1985, the International Center of Photography has recognized outstanding achievements in photography with its prestigious Infinity Awards. Since 2013, MediaStorm has been honored to partner with ICP and Harbers Studio to produce films that honor each awardee’s contribution to the field of photography and visual culture. This year’s winners are: Lifetime Achievement: Rosalind Fox Solomon; Critical Writing and Research: Zadie Smith, “Deana Lawson’s Kingdom of Restored Glory” for the New Yorker; excerpted from Deana Lawson: an Aperture Monograph (September 2018); Art: Dawoud Bey; Emerging Photographer: Jess T. Dugan; and Special Presentation: Shahidul Alam.

For Dawoud Bey, a successful portrait reveals a person’s interiority. Perhaps this is why his work has been called a “civic act of seeing”. In a career spanning forty years, he has used photographs to serve as a counternarrative to the pathologized portrayals of people on the margins. From series as diverse as “Harlem USA” to “Class Pictures”, Bey allows subjects to engage directly with the viewer, developing intimacy between the two. Bey’s recent work pays homage to black trauma and history. The Birmingham Project, which gained him a MacArthur Genius Grant, aims to evoke what was lost during the 16th St. Baptist Church Bombing in 1963 and its aftermath. The Underground Railroad and Night Coming Tenderly, Black take space and location as its subjects to explore how enslaved people moved under the cover of night to escape towards freedom. Dawoud says that his work–whether it is the black subject, marginalized histories, or teenagers–is all about giving subjects their due value.

The International Center of Photography’s Infinity Awards celebrates the outstanding achievements of individuals in photography. These films premiered at the Infinity Awards gala on April 2nd in New York City, and are subsequently used by the organization for promotion and fundraising.

Client: Harbers Studios, International Center of Photography
Published: April 2, 2019

The Challenge
One of the most interesting aspects of Dawoud Bey’s work is his process. Questions guide him and allow him to speculate how you explore questions through the rectangular frame. Although we spent time discussing his process during the interview, we lacked footage to show his process. We knew we had to show how he works to show the viewer the intention and care he takes with every photograph.

The Solution
We collaborated with cinematographer, Bron Moyi, to document Dawoud Bey on a scouting trip to New Orleans, where he is working on a new project. The resulting footage is a compelling visual narrative of how Dawoud works and how his questions guide him towards the images.

The Results
The film premiered on April 2, 2019 at the ICP Infinity Awards Gala in New York City. The film was a special feature of the evening, and a critical fundraising tool.

About the Client
This film was a collaboration with Harbers Studio and the International Center of Photography.

Harbers Studios turbocharges the efforts of charitable entrepreneurs by helping them tell their stories. Our goal is to help them articulate and share the value of the work they do so they can inspire others to help them do it. Working with some of the best filmmaking talent in the world, Harbers Studios creates compelling visual narratives that enhance the endeavors of organizations working to make the world a better place.

The International Center of Photography (ICP) is the world’s leading institution dedicated to the practice and understanding of photography and the reproduced image in all its forms. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach, ICP offers an open forum for dialogue about the role images play in our culture. Since ICP’s founding, they have presented more than 500 exhibitions and offered thousands of classes, providing instruction at every level. ICP is a center where photographers and artists, students and scholars can create and interpret the world of the image within our comprehensive educational facilities and archive.

Individual Films

Shahidul Alam is a Bangladeshi photojournalist, teacher, and social activist. A TIME “Person of the Year”, he is celebrated for his commitment to using his craft to preserve democracy in his country at all costs. Watch it now.

Jess T. Dugan uses photography to explore gender and sexuality. Her celebrated book, “To Survive on This Shore”, is a collection of photographs and interviews that document the joys and challenges of the lives of trans people over fifty. Watch it now.

Dawoud Bey’s photographs and process have been described as a “civic act of seeing”. He says his photographs of marginalized people and histories are all a way of giving these subjects greater value than they’re traditionally given. Watch it now.

Writer Zadie Smith pays homage to photographer Deana Lawson in the artist’s first Monograph. In this essay, Smith describes how Deana Lawson’s work uniquely places individuals from the African Diaspora in a “kingdom of restored glory”. Watch it now.

Rosalind Fox Solomon’s photographs are both a mirror to self-transformation; and a testament to some of the most important moments in history, including early photos of the AIDS Crisis, apartheid in South Africa, and life in the West Bank. Watch it now.

Since 1985, the International Center of Photography has recognized outstanding achievements in photography with its prestigious Infinity Awards.Watch it now.

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