With its annual Focus Awards, the Griffin Museum of Photography recognizes the work of people who are not photographers, but who have been instrumental in increasing awareness of the photographic arts among the general public.
Awards are presented in five categories: Lifetime Achievement, given to an individual whose ongoing commitment to photography has far-reaching impact; Rising Star, awarded to an emerging force the photographic community is watching with interest; New England Beacon, recognizing an individual whose work brings prominence to the local photographic scene; and the Spotlight Award, given to an entity that consistently shines a light on photography and enhances the art form. This year, for the first time, the Scribe Award will be presented to a writer who has consistently elevated the medium through his writing on photography.
Recipients of the 2009 Focus Awards are:
Lifetime Achievement: Eliane Laffont. For more than 40 years, Laffont has been a leading creative and entrepreneurial force in the world of photojournalism. In 1968, she opened the first U.S. office of Gamma Press Images in collaboration with her husband, Jean-Pierre. In 1973, they co-founded Sygma Photo News Agency, where Laffont served as general manager, then president of North American operations, for nearly three decades (with a two-year hiatus at LOOK magazine). Under Laffont's leadership, Sygma blossomed into the world's largest photo news agency with more than 500 photographers in 50 countries. In 1999, Sygma was acquired by Bill Gates' Corbis Images and Laffont was appointed U.S. operations general manager and later was promoted to global vice president of editorial content of Corbis-Sygma. In 2001, Laffont joined Hachette Filipacchi Media as editorial director, supervising the photographic production of the group in the U.S. and developing the photo division around three sectors: photojournalism, photo illustration and photo reportage.
Rising Star: Rob Haggart. Haggart is the former director of photography for Men's Journal and Outside magazines. He has received photo editing recognition from Graphis, American Photography, Society of Publication Designers, Communication Arts, American Society of Magazine Editors and Photo District News, and was chosen as part of the creative team of the year by Ad Week. He currently freelances as a photography director and runs APhotoEditor.com, a blog on photography.
New England Beacon: Rosalind Smith. Roz Smith, a native of Newton, is a features writer for Shutterbug, Photographers Forum, View Camera, Black and White and Camera Arts. She has also written feature articles for the Robb Report, Photo District News, and the Boston Globe. She has written articles on scores of photographers including Richard Avedon, James Nachtwey, Ron Haviv, John Isaac, Jill Enfield and Duane Michals.
Spotlight Award: Modern Postcard. Photographers worldwide rely on Modern Postcard, a San Diego commercial printing company. Founded by Steve Hoffman and nurtured by Jim Toya-Brown, Modern Postcard provides small runs of high quality postcards at an affordable price. Modern Postcard is at the forefront of the postcard industry.
Scribe Award: Russell Hart. Hart is executive editor of American Photo magazine and editor of American Photo On Campus. In addition to editing and authoring numerous magazine stories and posts on the American Photo blog, State of the Art , Hart oversees many of its technical reviews and organizes the "Editor's Choice" issue. This year, he will be on the jury of American Photo's "Emerging Artist" and "Student Portfolio" showcases. Russell has written about photography for the New York Times, US and Men's Journal. Co-author of the popular college textbook, Photography, with Henry Horenstein, he has taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Tufts University; and Mount Ida College. His personal work is included in collections such as the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as well as the Hallmark and Polaroid Collections.
The master of ceremonies for the Focus Award ceremony on May 7th was photographer Lou Jones. Presenting the awards were: Jean François LeRoy, founder of Visa pour L'image Festival in Perpignan, France; Jill Enfield, photographer; John Isaac, photographer; Howard Bernstein, CEO of Bernstein & Andriulli, NY, and publisher of Spread Artculture magazine; and Henry Horenstein, photographer.