Wednesday, February 21, 2007Home

Behind the Scenes with the Lucies and the IPA

While at the 2006 Lucie Awards and International Photography Awards (IPA) in November, CameraArts Senior Editor Mary Ann Lynch was able to get some exclusive interviews with the primary movers and shakers behind the two events. Now the full interview is available in the Web Exclusives section of CameraArts.com. Interviewees include Hossein Farmani, Founder and Chairman of the Lucie Awards, Event Co-Chair Susan Baraz, and Executive Producer Cat Jimenez.

Mary Ann has given us an insider's look at the unlikely beginnings and early hardships of what has become one of the most highly regarded awards ceremonies in the world of photography. Susan Baraz describes the trials of setting up an event like no other.

Everyone we initially spoke with was very suspicious of the “motives” behind the Lucies. It was difficult to convince some top people in the field that this event came about because of a pure love of photography and not for monetary gain. The Lucies is a result of passion for the art of the image, without any subterfuge. It was very hard in the beginning to convince people it was created out of Hossein’s love for the medium. I had many confrontations trying to “sell” this event. The people who at first, were the loudest critics, are now our biggest supporters.

Another anecdote is that we were told, in no uncertain terms, that you could never get photographers to wear “black tie” to anything. However, from that very first event, they did and up to today, look incredible.

Cat Jimenez was on hand to answer questions about the processes that the Lucies and IPA follow every year. Getting an event such as this to happen takes a lot of knowledge and drive, both of which the Lucie folks seem to have in droves. The efforts in marketing what essentially started as a labor of love sounds nothing short of monumental.

We’ve been wonderfully received over the years by the European photography publications and each year, interest in publicizing the winning images continues to grow. The US press have been both critical and kind to us in the past years but we’re happy to draw the media’s attention each year. And each year, the reception seems to get better. In 2006, publications from India to Turkey to Romania, Greece, Russia, and Great Britain have all done extensive features on the winning images of 2005 and 2006.

Farmani had many insights about his unique standing in the industry, fusing an entrepreneurial drive with his love for fine art photography, and the immense potential he sees in the future of the Lucie Awards.

We are working on having Lucie broadcast live so more people will get exposure to photography. I would like to see the names of all the masters become household names. Firstly, I want to make Lucie a financial success so it can sustain itself and be able to achieve its goal of creating an archive of documentaries about the life of our legends of photography. As I meet these photographers and hear their stories, I realize their stories are dying with them and I feel it is depriving thenext generation of this knowledge. I hope to produce documentaries that will forever record their stories.

It's always to be taken with a grain of salt when someone says they want to "make a household name," when these things are rarely in control of any one person. Considering Farmani's experience and business acumen, however, he might just be able to put the Lucie Awards in the spotlight, and make the event a true "Oscar Night for Photography."

Details are up for the next installment of the Lucie Awards. Click here to check it out.

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