Sunday, 29 March 2009

Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens

Yesterday I watched a documentary about photographer, Annie Leibovitz which was a close and intimate look at her life and work. The programme which was made by her sister, Barbara was aired on BBC 1 last June to celebrate her exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which ended it's run last month. Annie is a remarkable portrait photographer who takes images that capture a quality quite unlike any other. Some of her work are not very easy on the eye but there is no argument that they are extremely striking. My first recollection of Annie Leibovitz was her photograph of Demi Moore which appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair - nothing unusual about that as Demi was very hot at the time - except that she was naked and seven months pregnant. The image (which you can see above) caused a real stir and was on the cover of several newspapers and as former Vanity Fair editor, Tina Brown says, "That photo kicked off the discussion of motherhood and the discussion of the way we looked."

Annie kicked off her career in the early 70s at the newly launched Rolling Stone magazine where she carved out a niche for herself by taking intimate photographs of celebrities as well as documenting political rallies. Elton John, Rod Stewart, Ike and Tina Turner and The Rolling Stones were to just a few to mention. She adopted a method like approach to her work which entailed her living the life of her subjects. When The Rolling Stones went on tour she went with them and when they hung out backstage drinking she was right there and when they indulged drugs and alcohol she did so too. As drastic as this may be seem this practice allowed Annie to take some amazing and compelling pictures that would not have been possible if her subjects had not let their guard down. One of her most iconic images is the one of John Lennon and Yoko Ono (above) which was taken a mere five hours before Lennon was killed.

In 1983 she went over to Vanity Fair and with this move came a change from reportage images to much more glamorous and glitzy shots. Keeping in touch with the Vanity Fair remit, Annie's work now consisted of shoots with Hollywood stars such as Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Whoopi Goldberg and Isabella Rossellini. So it was no surprise when she started taking images for US Vogue and she recently raised a lot of eyebrows with her cover shot of basketball star, LeBron James and model, Gisele which you can see above. Today there are not a lot of celebs who have not been shot by Annie and she is simply one of the best photographers of her time. Editors and peers all over the world are in complete admiration of her.

Here are a few of Annie's breathtaking shots:

Whoopi Goldberg - Vanity Fair

Demi Moore - Vanity Fair

Tom Ford, Kiera Knightly and Scarlett Johansson - Vanity Fair

Michelle Obama - Vogue

All pictures taken by Annie Leibovitz

13 cool comments:

Dajamzback said...

I merely would like to grow up to be Tom Ford. That's all.

WendyB said...

Have you read the crazy stories about how she was so in debt she pawned the rights to past and FUTURE photos? Tragic!

Ashe Mischief said...

I can't help but think of the bits in American Psycho (the book, I can't recollect if it's in the film or not), where Patrick Bateman's fiancee is talking about having Annie Leibovitz photograph their wedding.

She's a remarkable photographer, and a great role model for artistic women. I love to see strong women successful in boy's worlds.

K.HART said...

didn't really know much about annie leibovitz until now. thanks for the insight! she has taken some great pics. lovin your blog ondo lady!

Harry McKinley said...

Her work is outstanding, she recently had an exhibition here in London which was a combination of her celeb work and personal shots of her friends and family. It gave the whole thing a very personal and intimate feel, and naturally attendance was bolstered after that whole brouhaha with the Queen!!

Ondo Lady said...

Dajamzback - You are so funny.

WendyB - Yes I did hear about her pawning her work, that is so sad.

Ashe Mischief - She is indeed a fantastic role model and a lady who goes to great lengths for her work. Reminds me of a time when journos would spend days as opposed to an hour with a subject to get to know them.

K.HART - Not many people know her name but I bet they have all seen her pics. Thanks for the compliments, I LOVE your blog too.

Harry McKinley - Yes I heard about the Queen debacle but did you know that the Queen was actually annoyed about something else and was uttering those words while she was on her way to see Annie NOT after as it was portrayed.

Brown Girl Gumbo said...

I would've loved to have seen that documentary. Annie Leibovitz is one of the best photogs of our time. I don't know what she or VOGUE were thinking when they did the Lebron James/Gisele shoot though. Oh or when she shot Miley Cyrus in that inappropriate "sexy" shoot.

mysterycreature1 said...

Leibovitz is great. It's also worth looking up Mario Testino. Though his style is very different, there is a certain high-celebrity-glaringly-truthful vibe that makes them similar.

Anonymous said...

she is so talented i love her style with the camera.

coco said...

I cannot believe I missed that when it was on in June. She is amazing. I adore the picture of Demi pregnant, so many copies have been done but the original is still the best!

Angel said...

This is the first time I have truly heard about the woman. Although I knew the name I didn’t realise why I knew.

What a great photographer, I wish I had seen the documentary.

You changed your header picture, very nice!

Eyeliah @ said...

Great post, I have to see that documentary now. I have been a fan of hers since I was unable to pronounce her last name. lol

erin lynne said...

i saw her speak once last year. she spoke about some of the things you mentioned (photographing lennon, getting wasted with the rolling stones) & more (chilling with hunter thompson, p.diddy's big ego). she's really an amazing lady. very strong too, especially after the loss of her partner.