June 2002 – Summer has arrived in Los Angeles and the organizers of the 7th Annual Smashbox Assistants Photography exhibition are almost ready for the crowds. The bar is set up outside, ashtrays aligned, and hor’devours are being marched out of Smashbox’s in-house catering house – Good Foods – also renown for turning out gourmet meals and snacks. It’s nothing really unusual for the studio whose clientele of celebrity photographers include the likes of Herb Ritts, Matthew Rolston, Annie Leibovitz and Bruce Weber. There’s also the legacy flowing through the veins of owners (and brothers), Dean and Davis Factor – great grandson of Max Factor who transformed the makeup industry by providing Hollywood glamour to the masses.
The event inside is what’s unusual. In this highly competitive industry, where photographers scramble to find their niche, the next PAYING job or more importantly – to leave a visual impression in today’s ever growing sea of images – everyone has taken a step back to pause for the creativity of young talent found in photography assistants.
Jordon Nuttall (assistant to Matthew Rolston), Gal Harpaz’s (assistant to Peggy Sirota), Michael Murphree (assistant to Annie Leibovitz) are just a few of the artists showing their work at this exhibition. Displayed in an unedited format, the visual contemporary works whirl around the cool white walls, high ceilings, dark wood and skylights – to the broad audience of potential clients, agents and collectors.
Stated best by Peggy Sirota’s introduction to this year’s exhibit, “I believe that our assistants truly enrich our lives as photographers but are many times the under appreciated heroes of our industry. I applaud Smashbox for continuing to showcase the creativity of the assistants that make the backbone of our industry as a whole. This show is an opportunity for them to shine, and for all of us to appreciate them as the artists they really are. Bravo to all of you and I hope that you never lose the spirit and the dream of expressing your art with photography.”
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