Research and Career Pathways in the arts
Case Study: Annie Leibowitz
Annie Leibowitz is a photographer from Waterbury, Connecticut Annie Leibovitz’s photographs are known for being of famous musicians. They are all quite dark with high contrast. Her most famous photo is of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
When she was young, Leibowitz went to Houston to study painting. She wanted to become a teacher. But she took a class in photography and decided to become a photographer instead.
In 1970 she was still a student but she was offered her first job for rolling stone to photograph the musician Mick Jagger. Three years later, she became the chief photographer at the magazine.
In 1975 she went on a six month tour with rolling stone and took loads of photos of bands performing.
In 1983, a collection of her pictures was published in a book called Photographs / Annie Leibovitz. This book became a bestseller. She went to work for Vanity Fair that year. Up until this point she had only taken photos of musicians but now she took pictures of people like Rihanna.
To take good photos that capture people’s personality, Leibowitz spends time with her subjects getting to know them. Often she takes the photos in their normal environment using natural light.
In 1986 she started to work in advertising and took pictures for companies like American Express.
In 1991 Leibovitz became the first female photographer to named chief photographer at Rolling Stone.
Her photos have been published in books like Annie Leibovitz at Work by Annie Leibovitz and Women by Annie Leibovitz.
In 2009, she took a very famous family photo of the Obamas.
I like the photos by Annie because it feels like you really know the people in them and they are really close and in normal settings which is more interesting than just in a studio. It made me think about how I could make my own photos more personal and use personal objects and props in the images.
I let my models wear their own clothes and I let them have personal stuff. In the photo of Rhiannon that is her real guitar. In the Orla picture she styled herself and she had brought a gothic gas mask to school to help it show her own personality. All the students are from Peckham and I used Peckham graffiti in the background to represent where they come from.
How my research helped me to develop my skills.
- An idea that is all my own –Annie Leibowitz is a very original photographer and she wasn’t scared to be different and do her own thing. She was the first woman to do lots of things. It would be good to be the first person to ever do things.
- Connected to music – She was very connected to the music industry and this is how she really got started, it’s funny though because she didn’t like music so much at first but she took any opportunity that came along.
- Professional looking – These photos show that professional looking photos could still look friendly and relaxed. It doesn’t always have to be in the studio.
- Using the studio independently – I would like to see some to the lighting diagrams she used but sometimes you can look at the photos and try to work out where the lights were.
- Using Photoshop independently – I’m not sure she uses photoshop much, maybe just to do the lighting and stuff.
- Working with other students – She was happy to work with others and got to know the subjects really well which is something I need to do more of.