Featured image, “Cadillac Mecca,” by Melinda Sue Gordon
When the talented still photographers of Local 600 put their heads together, great things happen. Case in point: “Still Standing,” an online sale of more than 200 images by 77 of the Local’s still photographers brought in nearly $30,000 to benefit the Union’s Hardship Fund. The labor of love took the effort, organization and ingenuity of cinematographers, publicists and still photographers to pull it off.
“With the work slowdown, this is an extremely important time to be supporting other members. Not all of us are in the same position,” said 2nd Assistant Lisa Guerriero, chair of the Local’s Health and Welfare Committee and one of the exhibition’s curators. “I’ve gotten lots of calls from members who have been able to use the Hardship Fund, which is magnificent,” said of the National Executive Board (NEB) member.
The exhibition featured images across a spectrum of categories from sports to street scenes, and musicians to politicians. One briskly-selling image by Barbara Kinney showed a group of six First Ladies at an event with a disengaged Nancy Reagan staring off into space. In another, jazzman John Coltrane wailed away on his instrument. Among the Beat writers collection, a bemused William Burroughs sat with his hands together, a cane resting in the corner. None of the images were from movie sets.
“John Coltrane” by Neil Jacobs
When the call went out for submissions, 91 still photographers sent in 486 images for consideration. Curators Aline Smithson, Guerriero and Kim Gottlieb-Walker culled the number down to 211.
“I’m extremely grateful to everyone who submitted,” said Still Photographer Beth Dubber who included a few images of iconic L.A. landmarks from her personal collection as well as a shot of an underwater camera operator tracking a mermaid during a Society of Camera Operators event. “We thought this could be a great way for still photographers to showcase our work — plus get some exposure.” All the work was donated.
Assembling an exhibition of this magnitude on short notice was a team effort across the union. The idea for an online auction of still photographers’ work came from the Local 600 Finance Committee. Key players in the effort were Camera Operator and NEB member Lawrence “Doc” Karman whose daughter Bijou designed the exhibition’s logo.
Initial discussions began in July and the exhibition launched just before Labor Day. Karman enlisted fellow Finance Committee member Nina Chadha, a DIT who had experience in web design and app development, to create the website. The timing worked out perfectly for Chadha who had just booked a job in New Zealand and was able to spend the first two weeks in “managed isolation” creating and debugging the “Still Standing” site.
“First Ladies” by Barbara Kinney
“I was super gung ho and honored to be part of the experience,” Chadha said. “Once we started getting submission from all of our union photographers, it was kind of amazing how much talent there was. I think I knew, but I didn’t really realize until we were starting to get all of these submissions of these amazing photographs.”
Union publicists Spooky Stevens, Rick Markovitz and Ernie Malik helped with marketing and publicity.
“I was really impressed at how this little idea came together so quickly and we had so many people from different classifications who all came together and made this work,” said Guerriero.
A special shoutout to outside sponsors, who were equally generous. The Print Studio at Film Solutions handled all of the printing and the German paper company Hahnemuhle FineArt GmbH donated to the cause as well. Film Solutions worked on the project at a substantial discount, and the company will offer members a lifetime discount.
Malik wondered whether some of images were “bought by cinematographers or were these people who have nothing to do with Local 600 who saw the stories and went online and bought them,” the NEB member mused. “This was a global Internet event.”
Bottom line, the success of “Still Standing” means that Local 600 members in need will be able to receive help during a critical time. Dubber, who has used the Hardship Fund herself, said that is reason to celebrate.
“I was part of those 600,000 whose unemployment got messed up and I hadn’t been paid in several months,” she said. “The Hardship Fund really helped me that month. I was so grateful that I had that option.”