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5 Key Concepts From Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass on the Art of the Photo

In her MasterClass, photography icon Annie Leibovitz shares her unique insight into the art of photography. Here are 5 key concepts from the class that photographers can (and should) apply directly to their own photographic journey.

 Image provided by MasterClass
Image provided by MasterClass

Sean Lewis

Annie Leibovitz is one of the most influential photographers of our time and the first woman to be named chief photographer at Rolling Stone. Her subjects include iconic musicians like John Lennon, legendary athletes like Evander Holyfield, and Oscar-winning actors like Sean Connery.

In her first and only online photography class, “Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography” on MasterClass.com, photographers are given a unique opportunity to learn directly from her, in her own words. We watched the entire class, took detailed notes, and are now presenting you with 5 key concepts that photographers can (and should) apply directly to their own photographic journey.

Thank you to MasterClass for sponsoring this article and making this content possible.

1. No Single Image Truly Captures a Person’s Essence

Annie Leibovitz browses through a collection of portraits – Image provided by MasterClass
Annie Leibovitz browses through a collection of portraits – Image provided by MasterClass

After photographing countless subjects over several decades, Leibovitz found that no single photograph can truly “capture” a person. Instead, Leibovitz believes a subject’s story is best told through a series of images. To illustrate her point, Leibovitz refers to a series of showgirls she photographed in Las Vegas.

After noticing the dramatic transformation the girls underwent while getting ready to go onstage, Leibovitz asked the dancers if she could photograph them before and after they donned their dance costumes. “As the women came in,” Leibovitz states, “I asked them if I could photograph them as themselves before they got ready.” She continues, “It was revelatory. This was the first time it was quite clear to me you needed two pictures to tell the story.” The juxtaposition of the images when placed side by side quickly dissolved Leibovitz’s quest for trying to capture a single, decisive moment in her portrait work.

2. Conceptual Portraits Are Best When Built Around the Subject

Part of Leibovitz’s legacy as the chief photographer for Rolling Stone magazine involves her implementation of conceptual cover images. According to Leibovitz, the biggest breakthroughs for the shift to conceptual Rolling Stone cover images grew from other assignments for Life Magazine. While photographing a series of poets, for instance, she tried to “emulate the poetry” of each poet into the portraits. The key to executing conceptual portraits, according to Leibovitz, lies in research.

When building a concept around her subject, Leibovitz looks at previously published images to see “what they’ve done, what they’re willing to do, what hasn’t been done.” This helps guide the session and keeps the images connected to whomever she’s photographing. Leibovitz notes, “All the work that I do emulates from [the subject].”

Read on >>>>> Source: SLR Lounge 5 Key Concepts From Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass on the Art of the Photo

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