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Transcript of Anne Leibovits
Mick Jagger invited Leibovitz to document their 1975 world tour, "to be their "Cartier-Bresson" (Leibovits, at Work). A decisive moment, this shot captures the physical intensity and energy of her subject up close. " I wanted the photographs to show the amount of energy that's involved in a performance, and how he put out everything that was left in his skinny body, using everything he had"(Leibovitz, Photographs Annie Leibovitz 1970-1990 9).
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, New York City, December 8, 1980. Photographed at home a few hours before John Lennon was murdered. Rolling Stone cover, January 22, 1981.
While working with John Lennon on this photo, Annie realizes that there is no real objectivity for a photographer, they are not just recording what is in front of them, they are involved and deciding. The photographers point of view is the "guts of the photograph" (Leibovitz, Photographs Annie Leibovitz 1970-1990 9). She also learned, from John, to just be herself, completely normal and collaborative with her subject, especially with notable people. This approach created a sense of intimacy and is the hallmark of her view.
Pele's FEet, Purchase, New York, 1981. Photographed for Sunday Magazine (London), unpublished.
This photo is an example of how Leibovitz's work evolved and became more conceptual. She thought a photo should reflect a strong concept or idea related to the subjector the subject's story. Because she involved her subject, her images were highly personal. What better way to emphasize the world's greatest soccer player than to photograph his feet.
Dancers Swimming, Florida, 1990. Photographed for The White Oak Dance Project
Annie Leibovitz's mother nurtured her love of dance. She was asked to photograph a group of well known dancers working together under the direction of Mikhail and Mark Morris on a plantation in a private wildlife preserve in Florida. This photo has a more classical look where Annie focuses on the body versus the face. "Dancers are a photographer's dream. They communicate with their bodies, and they are trained to be completely collaborative"(Leibovitz, Photographs Annie Leibovitz 1970-1990 12). Although the dancers are swimming in this atmospheric shot, the photo highlights the fluidity of dance and the beautiful form of the dancer's bodies.
Whoopi Goldberg, Berkeley, California, 1984. Vanity Fair, July 1984.
Another example of her conceptual genius, Annie had done her homework and had an ideaof what she'd like the shot to be. One of Whoopi's characters in her comedy show was a black girl "who thinks that she's white underneath" (Leibovitz, at Work 61). This picture tells you something about the subject in a surprising even extreme way but also has a social context that Annie's audience, your average American, relates to.
Initially hesitate to photograph for advertising; she agreed to shoot photos for an American Express campaign but their commitment to give her free reign and final approval won her over. Again, Annie collaborated with her subject to arrive at a unique pose that instantly identifies the iconic comedian and relates with his public persona and body of work.
Nelson Mandela, Soweto, South Africa, 1990
Annie was fortunate to photograph World Inspiring figures. "Photographs take on a new meaning after someone dies." (Leibovitz, A Photographer's Life 2) Nelson Mandela was an iconic figure that even before passing away had an immense impact World Wide.
Mick Jagger, Chicago, 1975. Rolling Stone 10th Anniversary issue, December 15, 1977
John Cleese, London, 1990. Photographed for American Express, unpublished
Glenda Thorton, member of Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases
(WORLD), San Francisco, 1993
In this shoot Annie captures three amazing photographs. Annie has an incredible talent for rich color. In all shots
the women were naked and painted with slogans, symbols, and warrior stripes. This group from San Francisco was
trying to get a important message across to all women and the world. Annie was able to capture that message and
display it with tremendous impact.
Michael Jordan, Vandam Street studio, New York, 1991
“Dancers and athletes use their bodies in performance, they don’t mind posing, they are comfortable in front of the camera.” (Leibovitz, at Work 101) A different photograph of Michael Jordan during the same shoot shows a great shot of his full body. This particular photograph on the other hand is a great close up. Focusing directly on the side his head and neck, no detail can go unnoticed. An infamous basketball player, whom many idolize.
Jack Nicholson, Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, 1992
Jack Nicholson has a charisma that is easily seen in this photograph. It displays great landscape but can’t help but
notice the fact Jack is on a roof wearing a robe and ready with a putter. It is a candid shot, which is what Annie
enjoyed capturing the most. A huge star captured in an unforgettable moment.
Traces of the massacre of Tutsi schoolchildren and villagers on a bathroom wall, Shangi
mission school, Rwanda, 1994
Rwanda 1994, Vanity Fair, December 1994, Editor: Graydon Carter, Art Director: Charles
Churchward, Nikon F, Fuji NHG 400.
Attacks in churches and mission compounds where people had sought to refuge became some of
the worst attack locations. When Annie arrived a month later all she could do was record the
evidence of the genocide against the Tutsi’s by the Hutu militias. Annie as a photographer liked to show and express
her point of view unlike a journalist. Annie felt she had a powerful voice as a photographer to express the point of
view she had.“There’s something intoxicating about being in a place where everything is stripped down to simple
life and death.” (Leibovitz, at Work 10)
O.J Simpson, Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building, 1995 , The New Yorker, April 1, 1995. Editor: Tina Brown, Art Director: Caroline Mailhot, Nikon F, Kodak T-Max P3200
“I used to joke – because I was embarrassed about it – that I was born to cover that trial.” (Leibovitz, at Work 113) Annie was currently still working for Vanity Fair at the time but couldn’t pass The New Yorker offer down. Luckily for Annie the judge was a fan of hers after seeing the 1970-1990 LA exhibition and asked to meet her. When she informed him they weren’t letting her into the courtroom he said, “Well, this is my courtroom and I can let in anyone I want to.” (Leibovitz, at work 116) She had photographed the lead defense attorney Robert Shapiro a few months earlier, which was very helpful to her. It helped negotiate the shot of O.J.
The Malecón, Havana 1996
Before creating another book of her work collection, she intended to make a book called the Beauty Book. “We
started making list for the Beauty book, and some of what was meant for it is in this book.” (Leibovitz,
Photographers life 2) Annie wanted to capture the idea in an old-fashioned way, when she was moved to. If it
wouldn’t had been for Susan, Annie wouldn’t have travelled to many of the places she took photographs of. Annie
wanted to do landscape work. Her contract with Condé Nast Traveler made that possible. This photograph
captures amazing sunset colors with stunning view of the beach.
Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, July 1998
Susan died December 28, 2004 from Cancer. Susan had a great impact on Annie’s life. The photos Annie took of
Susan once tell a complete story. Annie began to put pictures together for a little book she intended to give at her
memorial service. “The project was very important to me, because it made me feel closer to her and helped me to
begin to say good-bye.” (Lebovitz, Photographers Life 1990 – 2005 1) When working on Susan’s project Annie
realizes she has a lot more personal material than she imagined and decides that since her first creation 1970 –1990
did not cover much personal material she would include it in 1990 – 2005. Annie considered a book of just personal
photos but she felt it wouldn’t be a true view of those 15 years because all her work was a part of it as well
Robert De Niro, West 26th Street Studio, 2000
Robert was one of the actors that did not so much like to be photographed. “They like playing roles
and they feel cornered by a photograph.” (Leibovitz, at Work 157) Annie believes actors like De Niro get into acting
to get away from themselves, actors that think of themselves as actors first. No matter the situation Annie is able to
capture a great photograph. The message from Robert is direct and the photograph displays the point of view in
which Annie see’s him.
View south from London Terrace, West 23rd Street, New York, September 11, 2001
Annie was 8 months pregnant with Sarah when this occurred. Annie had just returned to her apartment from the
doctor’s office when she looked out her window and the towers were gone. She took the shot from her apartment as
she was afraid to get any closer at the time for fear of going into premature labor. With out the need to read the
caption you can recognize the event the photograph displays. After 9/11 Annie realized she wouldn’t want to do war
shots anymore. It was different, she now had children.
Susan with Sarah, West 23rd Street, October 2001
Annie’s first child Sarah was born October 16, 2001. She was 51 when Sarah was born. Once she had Sarah she
knew she wanted to have more children. 3 ½ years later her twins, Susan and Samuelle, were born with the help of
a surrogate mother. Annie had wanted children for a long time but was complicated with her time consuming
career. This photograph captures such delicacy in a new-born child, a beautiful moment.
My parents with Sarah, Clifton Point, May 2002
This photograph captures a candid special moment between grandparents and granddaughter. Annie didn’t believe in the idea of smile for the camera she disliked fake smiles and especially from a child but she loved being able to capture a natural photograph of a true smile.
Bill, Chelsea, and Hilary Rodham Clinton,
Grand Hyatt ballroom, Election Night, New York, November 7, 2000
There were other options that could have been chosen of this night but this particular photograph had
something special about it. You almost feel as if you are in the moment when this election was going on, feel
what Bill, Chelsea, and Hillary felt at that moment. Annie was great with candid shots and this is another one of
them. A moment in history displayed.
Top: Annie and Sarah Leibovitz; Mark, Ross, and Graham Goodwin.
Center: Niki Mock Leibovitz, Philip, Erik, and Samantha Leibovitz; my parents;
Ted Leibovitz, Jennifer Steinman, Matthew Stevens, Susan Leibovitz Steinman.
Bottom: Jamie and Rachel Hellman, Barbara Leibovitz, Noah Hellman, Arnold and
Megan Steinman, Paula and Beth Goodwin, Clifton Point, Thanksgiving 2003.
A Photographers life was personal for Annie in many ways. Displaying her work, family, children, partner, and impacting deaths. Through out the book you can see that family is a crucial part of her life. Photographing precious moments and tragic ones helped cope and enjoy some of those moments. The family portrait isn’t the typical every one smile and look at the camera. Not everyone is looking at the camera but there is happiness in their smiles, it’s about capturing the moment in time.