January 24, 2022

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The best way to {Photograph} Annie Leibovitz

How to Photograph Annie Leibovitz

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An article printed in The New York Instances’s Arts part final week, “A ‘Conceptual Artist’ at Work,” explores the life, artistry and new guide of the photographer Annie Leibovitz. The portraits of Ms. Leibovitz that accompany the article, shot by the photographer Gillian Laub, are simply as illuminating: Intimate and alluring, the photographs seize the susceptible, usually unseen facet of an individual who is often behind the digicam.In an interview, Ms. Laubshared her expertise photographing Ms. Leibovitz — and what’s so uniquely difficult, barely intimidating and deeply rewarding about working with any person famend of their shared discipline. Her responses have been calmly edited and condensed.

How have been you feeling heading into this project?It was a real honor to obtain this fee. However together with the thrill was a ton of nerves. The duty of creating a portrait of a photographic and portrait legend was daunting, to say the least. However it was additionally actually thrilling.

Did you strategy the project in another way from a standard shoot?
My strategy doesn’t change; it’s not decided by who I’m photographing. I all the time strategy each shoot with an open thoughts and an open coronary heart. There’s some planning concerned, in fact, however I prefer to let there be sufficient room for discovery and spontaneity.

What are the best challenges in photographing a photographer?
There’s a stage of self-consciousness and consciousness of the digicam that’s distinctive to photographing one other photographer. It felt like we have been each sympathetic to the opposite as a result of I feel she knew how intimidating it’s for any person to {photograph} her. And I acknowledge that somebody who’s all the time behind the digicam, like Annie, is never in entrance of the digicam.

The primary portrait we did was in Annie’s kitchen. She was so candy; she felt so unhealthy as a result of the sunshine was tough, and he or she mentioned she’s by no means been in a position to make an excellent image in her kitchen. So we have been truly attempting to problem-solve it collectively.

How do you assist your topics really feel snug sufficient to open up?
There’s no method. I all the time wish to study what makes every of us distinctive and particular. After I talked to Annie earlier than the shoot, and he or she requested the place I’d love to do it, there was no query I wished to do it at her house in Rhinebeck. I’d seen many photos of her at work and within the studio, and that’s actually the Annie that we’ve seen publicly.

Vulnerability is actually about belief. And we’re all susceptible, so it’s actually the one factor that connects us all. The best way to seize it? Nicely, that’s within the magic that’s images. That’s what’s thrilling for me.

When your topic is a photographer, does the connection between you and the topic grow to be extra essential?
Sure. It was every part that I had hoped for and extra, as a result of it felt collaborative. In reality, one of many images I wished to make was at her pond. It was so clear by how she described her pond that it was a really, very particular place to her and her household. Sadly, once we acquired to the pond by the tip of the day, the sunshine wasn’t nice. She was so excited to indicate me the {photograph} that she took of the pond that morning. It was this magical, mystical {photograph}. She mentioned: “I’m not displaying it to you to indicate off. It’s important to see how lovely it appears to be like.” She knew that it killed me that it wouldn’t be doable for me to make that picture there. So Annie provided for me to return again within the morning to seize the sunshine. She had a household party to go to very early, however she so revered the artistic course of that she provided that. So I awakened at 3:30 within the morning to drive again to Rhinebeck to make that portrait. It wasn’t very handy for her, so I used to be actually grateful that she was so beneficiant to supply that.

What was the most important factor you realized or took away from the shoot?
I’ve all the time heard how meticulous and thorough Annie is in regards to the analysis she does earlier than her shoots, so to get a window into that and her artistic course of was fairly wonderful. I laughed once I noticed her desk, as a result of there was a giant file on me and lots of printouts of my work, Google photos, articles on me and my latest guide. I had each one in every of her books — I introduced very heavy luggage crammed together with her books so she might signal them.

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