One of the highest honors any photographer can receive is the “Infinity Award.” Provided by the International Center of Photography (ICP), the award recognizes truly extraordinary, lifetime commitments to the field each year. The party that comes along with it isn’t bad, either.
But when Renee Harbers first joined the organization’s board of directors in 2012, she saw a place we could help. As a nonprofit, ICP already finances a tremendous number of programs that advocate for photographers and photography around the world (including continuing and masters education programs, outreach into underserved communities, museum partnerships and a research archive that’s open to the public). By the time the Infinity Awards arrived each year, there simply wasn’t the budget to produce films for the event that could fully capture the incredible contributions of the honorees.
So, beginning in 2013, we’ve produced more than 50 different films for the event, each capturing the stories, legacies and mastery of the photographers being honored. And, as with everything we do, the impact has been as surprising as it is far-reaching.
By freely licensing our films to museums around the world to be shown alongside the photographers’ exhibited work, they provide a critical bridge between artist and audience.
They’ve become an invaluable marketing tool for the photographers themselves, most of whom don’t have the time or resources to contextualize their work with such depth or breadth.
They’ve also become a tremendous resource for ICP as an institution, which preserves them in perpetuity as part of their archive, allowing the history and inspiration they contain to be accessed by scholars, artists, and enthusiasts alike.
But just as importantly, they continue to make the Infinity Awards an even more extraordinary evening for all who attend. These films present the photographers’ work with the kind of care, respect, and attention to detail as they put into the work itself, ensuring the photographers feel truly seen — and the audience truly honored to stand among them for a night.