Annie Leibovitz is one of the best portrait photographers in today’s era. She focuses her works on a variety of subjects but mostly among celebrity portraits. The range of her photographs creates scenes that touch the soul. The substances of her photographs, along with her unique mental picture, have the ability to make bold statements and striking impressions of some of her works. Thus, if there was a person whom I could nominate to be considered one of the top ten photographers in the world, it would be Annie Leibovitz. Apart from these, her photographs represent images of stories that affect the emotions of her viewers.
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It is said that “As a photographer of today’s hottest celebrities and who herself has become a celebrity, Annie Leibovitz (born ca. 1949) has chronicled popular culture for more than 25 years.”
She is also in demand as a photographer of celebrities. For the past 25 years, no photographer has delivered more photographs of the people we most want to see than Annie Leibovitz. Her pictures are recognizable for their bright colors, intense lighting, and above all, for unique and surprising poses. In magazine spreads and advertising campaigns, Leibovitz has demonstrated that she is a master of projecting the popular culture of our time.”
Leibovitz was born in Westbury, Connecticut, in 1949. While in her childhood, Ms. Leibovitz was forced to move a lot because of her father’s career in the air force. She was also influenced by art all through her childhood since her mother was a dance instructor. Thus, she was raised to enjoy art as part of her culture. She decided to go to the San Francisco Art Institute and was really interested in painting. But one year later, Ms. Lebovitz left San Francisco and went to visit her family in the Philippines, where they had been living. It was on a trip to Japan that her mother bought Annie her first camera. At that young age, she was amazed by the fact that one could take a picture and have it developed the same day. She started taking night classes in photography, and then later in the fall, she returned to San Francisco. In order to help develop her skills more, she spent time on a kibbutz, a collectively run farm, in Israel for several months in 1969. She took many pictures while there in Israel. A friend saw her work and advised her to take her pictures to Rolling Stone Magazine. Then by the time she was 23, Annie Lebovitz was chief photographer of the magazine. After this accomplishment, the young photographer decided she was then going on to bigger and better things as a great photographer. She sealed her fate as a photographer by taking photos of two famous subjects, John Lennon and the band, The Rolling Stones. It was on December 8, 1980, Lebovitz took one of her most famous photographs of John Lennon, only hours before his murder. The photographs she produced as she traveled have been called “some of the most eloquent images ever made of the world of Rock and Roll.” (http://www.bookrags.com/biography/annie-leibovitz). Of course, she had her share of fright as she found her visit there as sincerely scared. She began asking questions, “Where do I begin… How do I start?
Anine Lebovitz has achieved many honors, and these just add to the list of reasons why she is considered one of the top photographers. Leibovitz has been made a Commandeur des Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. The Library of Congress has designated her as a living legend. It was in 1970 when it was discovered by Jan Werner, founding editor of Rolling Stone, who definitely was impressed by her portfolio. It was Werner who first gave Leibovitz her first assignment, which was to take pictures of John Lennon. She took a dramatic and impressive photo of Lennon, who also graced the cover of the January 21, 1971 issue of Rolling Stone, which obviously impressed those who got her for the job so that two years later, she was named the Rolling Stone chief photographer (Annie Leibovitz Puts Down Camera, Talks).
What makes Leibovitz a famous photographer is a combination of several characteristics of her shots as well as her personality that come out in her pictures. She has distinctive portraits that continue to appear on magazine covers for more than 30 years. She was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, where she spent most of her childhood years with her father as a career officer in the air force. Most of her early years were spent studying painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she took her night classes in photography. She also did some work for the Rolling Stone magazine, where she did 142 covers and photo essays on several stories, which include many accounts on the resignation of Richard Nixon and the tour of the Rolling Stones. Leibovitz worked with the Vanity Fair in 1983 as well as the Vogue in 1998. Aside from her advertising work, she also did effective advertising campaigns for the American Express, Gap, Givenchy, The Sopranos, and the Milk Board. She also had several published books which were exhibited to a large group of people, including those held at the International Center of Photography in New York and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. She also received many honors, which include the Infinity Award in Applied Photography from the International Center of Photography and the Barnard College Medal of Distinction. She was also awarded for her photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which were taken on the day Lennon was shot. She is also known for her iconic image of Demi Moore, which was shot for Vanity Fair. In fact, she is known as a Living Legend by the Library of Congress and one of the 35 “innovators of our time” by Smithsonian magazine (Annie Leibovitz Life Through A Lens).
It is not only the lighting and color that comes through in her photographs, but the range of her portraits is impressive, from her trademark Hollywood group shots, which are as extravagant as any film set, to unusual conceptual pieces. Annie Lebovitz is not afraid to get to know her subjects, and this allows her to capture moments out of the ordinary. Leibovitz keeps the setting simple and reveals something unexpected and deeply personal about her subjects.
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Another reason I believe that Annie Lebovitz is one of the best photographers in the world is that she expresses today’s American Culture in her photographs. She usually takes pictures of famous people, but in every photograph, it brings out something about the person in it. For example, her famous pictures of Demi Moore naked, along with another one of her pregnant. She usually tries to put something into a picture to make it a little different, adding that subtle change that would not have been noticed if they did not have that certain object.
Leibovitz was not taught anything about lighting when she was attending school at the San Francisco Art Institute; therefore, her early pictures were in black and white. Leibovitz had to learn about color herself. Nevertheless, Leibovitz quickly developed her signature style, well-known for brilliant color, partially because the photographs printed well. One more secret of Leibovitz’s success is she researches her subjects before the photo session. She reads the works they have produced, such as books or poetry, watches all their performances, including any movies they may have appeared in, and tries to spend time observing their daily lives.
There is no doubt that Lebovitz uses images that disseminate different kinds of images that utilize social appeal. It communicates messages other than that of belonging and similarity. She is able to work out her own sense of values and principles in other people’s daily lives. Different psychological needs are at the root of style and an individual’s sense of beauty.
In the area where she works, Lebovitz has become a byword. She uses action-oriented approaches that emphasize the systematic application of effective photographic styles and principles in order to achieve a change in the mood of her subjects. She is able to learn from practical advice that keeps her aware of the personal Magnetic North so that she is set on the right path, especially when she has to make important and critical decisions. The crucial leadership choices he/she makes are always observed by the people under him/her.
She has developed certain values and lifestyles that have made her the best in her field. For instance, she has learned to cultivate the ability to see and enjoy people as individuals. It has been said that the art of pleasing is to be pleased. There are very different things to respect and admire in different people. And when Annie sees that, she will spend more considerable time studying her subject so that she can freeze that moment and capture the essence of the person. For Leibovitz, there is no reason to be discouraged when one considers oneself as always open to change. Age is also not a barrier to her improvement too. The best movement is to go forward when the opportunity arises.
It seems that this person has mastered the secret of working by postponing the satisfaction that comes from the accolades of people around her. She puts things in their proper sequence—and winning or performing well comes last. When she reverts to the analysis of the body mechanics, one almost invariably sacrifice performance. With Leibovitz, the challenge lies in every session. It begins with a clear image of what she wants to do. That image has personal refinements, but it will be within a certain framework of efficient performance. If the image is faulty, to begin with, one is obviously never going to achieve maximum performance. She has mastered the skill. From the very first time she was given a break until now, she sees that every photoshoot has been laid well and studied.
Leibovitz definitely has her share of acclaim for the niche she has carved for herself in the area of photography. Even the former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, states that Leibovitz “has been a major chronicler of our country, what we care about, what we think about.” (Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens). There is something about the way she takes these pictures that make her rise above the rest of other photographers (Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens). She is also very keen about her surroundings, and as such, she finds that there can be a valuable shot if she starts clicking her camera away.
She has learned to ingrain excellence into her lifestyle. She knows that old habits easily creep back into one’s performance. So she just concentrates well on a subject. She moves as soon as possible to the speed of the performance. Nothing is done in slow or separate motions or with less than game strength. With Annie Leibovitz, there is always dynamism and a lot more worlds to conquer.
Indeed, producing order from chaos in daily life involves the same procedure as training for a championship. When Leibovitz finds working under duress, it is usually because she has allowed herself to be talked into trying to do several things at once. Her essence is when she concentrates on a certain subject and dissects it so well so that her only problem is to have the person move as naturally as he/she can and have that captured by the camera. For somebody to have studied reportage, the skills and sensitivity all helped in making her pictures intimate and revealing. The only advantage of errors is that she learns the consequences of a bad move, and the pitfalls of repetitive practice exist when the performance is basically correct. Even if she had finished the job, there are still words and worlds that she has to conquer, and she has succeeded well in creating a balance for everyone concerned.
Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens. 2008. Web.
Encyclopedia of World Biography on Annie Leibovitz, pp 1-4. Web.