Up-AND-COMING photographers from New York and L.A. met last week at Smashbox Studios' 12th annual Face Off show, a judged exhibition spotlighting the work of photo assistants from both coasts. The setting -- a SoHo loft-like studio space at Smashbox's recently acquired West Hollywood compound -- was more Manhattan than Hollywood, though a well-dressed cadre of local art fans, models and photo industry executives turned out to toast the fresh crop of talent. (One of L.A.'s finest, DJ Tony Okungbowa, spun dance remixes clad in a dapper suit-and-scarf ensemble.)
Entries were mounted on the curving hallway walls just outside the studio and encompassed a mix of fashion, fine art and commercial photography. The winning photo, chosen by a panel of judges that included photographer David LaChapelle, Getty Images art director Stephen Schauer and David Fahey of Fahey/Klein Gallery, was a whimsical, untitled piece by 26-year-old Stewart Traver, who has assisted power shooters Jill Greenberg, Gavin Bond, Andrew Macpherson and George Holz, among others.
Traver's image depicts a human body skipping down the street with a boombox in place of a head -- affecting a sense of twisted joy.
The soiree's bicoastal vibe was punctuated by New York-based co-sponsor Splashlight Studios, which took over a section of the space to erect a massive, professional-grade portrait studio. At "The Photobooth," partygoers mugged for the camera, and each took away a black-and-white photo of themselves -- printed on the spot from a laptop.