Palm Springs Photo Festival 2015

PSPF is a wonderful experience, and if you’ve ever thought of going, you should!  It is a gathering of photographers from all over the country (and the world) for an idyllic week discussing their work, doing portfolio reviews, taking workshops from the finest teachers, testing new gear, and seeing the latest that the photography world has to offer.  The setting is wonderful (Palm Springs before it gets too hot), with the portfolio reviews at the Hyatt and the workshops at the delightful and photogenic Korakia Pensione.  I stayed around the corner at the newly remodeled Hideaway, which has the best pool and lovely mid-century rooms.


This was the tenth year anniversary, and it was rocking!  I did not sign up for the porfolio reviews this year, but opted to take a workshop on creative vision with Keith Carter, a visual poet with the camera, as well as beloved teacher, and sweet southern gentleman.  His work and words are so inspiring.  I’d been admiring his work, and was thrilled to meet him in person and get to spend four days soaking in his wisdom.  The workshop was filled with other established and emerging photographers who were all interesting and inspiring in their own right.  Keith is self taught, and used mostly black and white film and medium format, though during the workshop he shot in digital, and is obviously well versed in both.  His images are dreamy, soulful, and often provocatively symbolic.   One of his words of advice is to look for stripes.  I guess he takes that to heart…


Keith Carter at Indian Canyon, 2015, image by Erica Martin

While we were there we attended evening lectures by a number of iconic photographers, showcasing their latest work and career retrospectives.  One of the evenings was a lecture and slideshow by Mary Ellen Mark, one of my early inspirations and teachers.  I was particularly moved by her series on the plight of caged prostitutes of Mumbai, called Falkland Road.  She worked for ten years to gain the trust of the prostitutes and be able to make images.  I was so grateful in years past for her encouragement of my portraiture, and for her delight in certain of my images that she felt showed life and heart.  I was able to speak with her and thank her for her influence and her lessons in perseverance.  Mary Ellen showed work from her upcoming book, which will be a continuation of the long time documentation of the life of Tiny, a one-time street urchin in Seattle, through relationships and motherhood, and the vicissitudes of a hard life.  Mary Ellen Mark passed away at the end of May.  She will be missed by many.

FRANCE. Provence-Alpes-CÙte d'Azur. Arles. 1976. Ernst HAAS and Mary Ellen MARK.

FRANCE. Provence-Alpes-CÙte d’Azur. Arles. 1976.  Mary Ellen MARK, by photographer Rene Burri.

We were also treated to trying out some new technology, including the Pentax 645z (see my review in a previous post), the Canon Pro-1 Printer, and the new Epson P800 Printer.  I fell in love with the Pentax 645z, a 51 mp medium format camera with weatherproofing, that I shot with for a couple of days.  It revolutionizes medium format digital by designing it for both field work as well as studio.   You could also borrow any Canon gear you wanted for the day, and we got a sneak peek at the just released Canon 50 mp 5Ds.

Kudos to festival director Jeff Dunas for creating on ongoing tradition that is a place for photographers to meet, make connections, and recharge with what they love about their craft.  Like Jeff, the festival is both laid back, and really engaging.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, had a blissful week photographing, meeting old friends and making new ones, and soaking up sun, craft, and creativity.


Izumi Tanaka and Erica Martin, PSPF 2015


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