A new book celebrates Annie Leibovitz’s vogue images

Yoshiko Yap

HE Very first lens that Annie Leibovitz, an American photographer, looked via was the rear-seat window of her parents’ station wagon. Her father was a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Drive, and in the late 1960s their household moved from suburban Connecticut to the Philippines. Her very first camera came later on, she claims above Zoom from her house on Manhattan’s Upper West Aspect. It was a low-priced Minolta SR-T 101, purchased even though travelling in Japan with her mother as an 18-year-aged on a break from her painting scientific tests at the San Francisco Artwork Institute. She experienced no options to be a photographer, so “why commit way too considerably on a digicam?”

And but Ms Leibovitz is now celebrated for her illustrations or photos of planet leaders, actors, musicians, and activists, which disarm and glorify her subjects in equal evaluate. “Annie Leibovitz: Wonderland”, a new photobook of her work, is the first to concentration on her a long time-prolonged job in fashion pictures and the pictures she took for Vogue.

A great deal of the 72-calendar year-outdated artist’s output blurs the line among photojournalism, which strives to document a fleeting instant to preserve fact, and editorial images, which depicts its topics in a stylised way to boost products and solutions, notify a tale or attract interest. As a pupil, Ms Leibovitz observed the friction in between documentary images and fashion shoots powerful. “The previous was stored larger up although the other was viewed as professional.”

Glamour is truly worth documenting, she believes. Her subjects—whether they be politicians (these kinds of as Hillary Clinton), pop-stars (like Lady Gaga), or activists (which include Malala Yousafzai)—are captured in an unnervingly reasonable way. At the similar time, they radiate under the extraordinary light she casts more than them, enhanced by a glow reminiscent of the chiaroscuro method applied by Renaissance painters.

Ms Leibovitz once hoped to develop into a painter, but soon ditched that ambition and attended night time-faculty lessons in photography. “Abstract portray of the time was as well angry and I did not have the patience,” she says. In 1970 she obtained her start operating for Rolling Stone by 1973 she was the magazine’s chief photographer. “No 1 instructed me how to get a picture”, she recalls. She snapped John Lennon and Yoko Ono hrs right before Lennon’s murder, and with Hunter S. Thompson protected Richard Nixon’s very last days at the White Household.

For all the pleasure of her day job, she would frequently find herself viewing the Las Palmas newsstand in Los Angeles to pour over glossy magazines complete of decadent illustrations or photos by photographers this kind of as Person Bourdin and Helmut Newton. She observed parallels between the sorts of pictures they developed and the do the job she was doing with rock singers on tour. That gave her new concepts about the approaches she could choose images, much too.

Each she (behind the digicam) and the topics in entrance of it are, she thinks, engaged in an act of performance. Her operate is imbued with theatrics. She snapped Angelina Jolie on the entrance of a dangle glider, and Keira Knightley as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz”. Ms Leibovitz’s mom was a dance teacher, and often signed her up for courses. “It adjusted how I appear at factors all over the digital camera,” she claims. There is a rhythm to her course of action, a a single-two of intrusion and retreat.

Her function is typically funny, way too. “My tactic to vogue has usually been lighthearted,” she states. She revels in its inherent whimsy. Acquire for case in point, her shoot showcasing Sarah Jessica Parker, the star of “Sex and the City”, in front a mountainous pile of pillows. Or her sequence depicting Natalia Vodianova, a Russian model, crammed into a small property as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in her wonderland.

In 2007 Ms Leibovitz grew to become the very first American to officially photograph Queen Elizabeth II and her relatives. Investigate is integral to this kind of assignment, she says. “I can’t manage to go into the shoot devoid of a approach.” She sights her subjects as creative companions and the remaining photographs as a reflection of that romantic relationship. But they will usually be a form of fiction, she admits, even with the immediacy and realism of pictures. It will under no circumstances be feasible to capture “the comprehensive complexity of a subject” in a one shot. “You can only get 10 percent of a human being in an picture.”

“Annie Leibovitz: Wonderland” is published by Phaidon. Photographic prints from the ebook will be on exhibit at Hauser & Wirth in Southampton, New York, right up until December 23rd, 2021.

Prime image
Annie Leibovitz
Sarah Jessica Parker, The Plaza Resort, New York City, 2005
Archival pigment print
110.5 x 160 cm / 43 1/2 x 63 in 113 x 166.4 x 3.8 cm / 44 1/2 x 65 1/2 x 1 1/2 in (framed)
© Annie Leibovitz
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Next impression
Annie Leibovitz
Natalia Vodianova and Christian Lacroix, Paris, 2003
Archival pigment print, Edition of 8
33 x 45.7 cm / 13 x 18 in 35.4 x 48.1 x 3.8 cm / 13 7/8 x 18 7/8 x 1 1/2 in (framed)
© Annie Leibovitz
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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