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Anti-fashion Photography, Shepard Fairey & Car-Free LA: A Half-Day at PSFK

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We were only able to spend the morning at the PSFK Los Angeles conference due to our slammed afternoon schedule of ab-gawking. Cordial host Piers Fawkes was even more witty and dapper in person than we imagined him to be (like an extra in a Hugh Grant movie), but we couldn’t figure out why he kept changing the schedule on us. Luckily, the reordered roster was actually much better.

Director of Photography at Getty Images Andrew Delaney was the perfect opening to the conference with a stunning collection of images that beautifully illustrated the changing digital photo market. This was especially fitting since the next “why LA matters” panel talked almost exclusively about the work of the Cobra Snake. You’d think he was head of the cultural affairs commission the way panelists Adriana Parcero, Tony Pierce, Emmanuelle Richard, Jeff Miller and Shana Nys Dambrot were able to tie him into so many aspects of LA’s importance. (Wow, is this really what you think of us? Are we just the Cory Kennedys of the world?) But it was an interesting point in terms of LA’s image, which leads us to ask again: Why is it that New Yorkers put together the most provocative panels on LA culture?

The next LA-focused panel on living without a car was intriguing (especially since we’d taken the bus there ourselves), but failed to deliver. GreenLAGirl Siel and MetroRiderLA Frederick Dennstedt gave inspirational mojo to the car-free lifestyle, but transit advocate Kymberleigh Richards infused the discussion with such militant, anti-government rhetoric it might have scared people away. The point of a weird film by Refreshment at the end might have been that even a good-looking, well-dressed person can take the subway, walk or ride their bikes in LA. It was insulting to those of us who do.

If the future of content is as boring as the next panel on it was, we’re all in big trouble. A question in the Q&A summed it up nicely: “From what I’ve heard everyone say it feels like it’s all about making money. Where does making good content fit into your model?” Ouch. We learned a lot about bad content–as in massive stereotyping in the Hispanic market–from Juan Guillermo Tornoe, Jennifer Woodward and David Morse during their entertaining discussion on how American marketers and advertisers get Latino culture dead wrong.

And finally, recent conference darling Shepard Fairey gave his typical crowd-pleasing presentation, which pleasantly did touch upon quite a lot of his commercial work (although he casually mentioned more than he actually showed). We had to split after that, but on our way out we noted that Fawkes nailed one important LA detail: Lunch was catered by Joan’s on Third, a good sign of things to come.

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