The celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz, author of the New York Times bestselling book A Photographer's Life, provides the stories, and technical description, of how some of her most famous images came to be. Starting in 1974, with her coverage of Nixon's resignation, and culminating with her controversial portraits of Queen Elizabeth II early in 2007, Leibovitz explains what professional photographers do and how they do it. The photographer in this instance is the most highly paid and prolific person in the business. Approximately 90 images are discussed in detail -- the circumstances under which they were taken, with specific technical information (what camera, what settings, what lighting, where the images appeared). The Rolling Stones' tour in 1975, the famous nude session with John Lennon and Yoko Ono hours before Lennon was killed, the American Express and Gap campaigns, Whoopi Goldberg in a bathtub of milk, Demi Moore pregnant and naked on the cover of Vanity Fair, and coverage of the couture collections in Paris with Puff Daddy and Kate Moss are among the subjects of this original and informative work. The photos and stories are arranged chronologically, moving from film to digital. Leibovitz's fans and lovers of great photography will find her stories of how one learns to see -- and then how to photograph -- inspiring.
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“The first thing I did with my very first camera was climb Mt. Fuji. Climbing Mt. Fuji is a lesson in determination and moderation. It would be fair to ask if I took the moderation part to heart. But it certainly was a lesson in respecting your camera. If I was going to live with this thing, I was going to have to think about what that meant. There were not going to be any pictures without it."
Annie Leibovitz describes how her pictures were made, starting with Richard Nixon's resignation, a story she covered with Hunter S. Thompson, and ending with Barack Obama's campaign. In between are a Rolling Stones Tour, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, The Blues Brothers, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Keith Haring, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Patti Smith, George W. Bush, William S. Burroughs, Kate Moss and Queen Elizabeth. The most celebrated photographer of our time discusses portraiture, reportage, fashion photography, lighting, and digital cameras.Amazon Exclusive Essay: Annie Leibovitz on Photography
In 1977, when Jann Wenner, the editor of Rolling Stone, asked me to prepare a fifty-page portfolio of my pictures for the tenth anniversary issue of the magazine, I decided not to simply make a selection of photographs that had been published. I looked at everything I had done since I started working. It was a revelation. For one thing, I had no idea that I had accumulated so many photographs. You lose track of them when you’re working every day. And you see the work in a different way when you look at it from the distance of time. You get a sense of where you are going. You start to see a life.
I had the opportunity to edit my work most thoroughly when I prepared two retrospective books, Annie Leibovitz: 1970–1990 and A Photographer’s Life: 1990–2005. It was thrilling to see that first book laid out chronologically. To see the pictures historically. The second book, A Photographer’s Life, was assembled immediately after the death of Susan Sontag and my father. Editing the book took me through the grieving process.
The books are pure. They are mine. The magazines I work for don’t belong to me. It’s the editor’s magazine, and the editor has every right to use the material the way he or she wants to. It isn’t just that art directors and editors at magazines make selections that I wouldn’t necessarily make. Which they sometimes do. Or that they run pictures too small. Or that they put so much type on the pictures that you can’t see them anymore. Magazines have quite specific needs. It’s a collaboration only so far, which is true of almost all assignment work.
When I began working on my new book, I thought it would be a pamphlet of maybe forty pages or so. I intended to take ten of my photographs and dissect them. They didn’t have to be my most famous pictures, just pictures that I cared about. But as I began going through the material I realized that I might as well be more ambitious. I started to think that I would try to answer every single question anyone has ever asked about how my work is done. To defuse the mystery, and the misconceptions. To explain that it’s nothing more than work. And learning how to see.
So my forty-page pamphlet became a 240-page book with over a hundred photographs in it. It is written for someone like the person I was at the beginning of my career, when I was in art school. A young me. I didn’t know which road I would take. Whether it would be a commercial road, a magazine road, an artistic road, a journalistic road. It’s written for that person. Someone who is interested in photography but isn’t sure how they want to use it.
The book is more emotional than I had imagined it would be. But, most importantly, it is my edit. No one is going to care about, or understand, your work the way you do, and if you are going to explain it you have to be able to present it the way you want to. That’s what a book can do better than any other medium.
See Annie Leibovitz's 15 favorite photography books.
(Photo credit Paul Gilmore)About the Author:
Annie Leibovitz was born on October 2, 1949, in Waterbury, Connecticut. Her father was a career officer in the Air Force and her childhood was spent on a succession of military bases. While studying painting at the San Francisco Art Institute she took night classes in photography, and in 1970 she began working for Rolling Stone magazine. She became Rolling Stone’s chief photographer in 1973. By the time she left the magazine, ten years later, she had shot one hundred and forty-two covers and published photo essays on scores of stories, including her memorable accounts of the resignation of Richard Nixon and of the 1975 Rolling Stones tour. She joined the staff of Vanity Fair in 1983 and in 1993 also began working for Vogue. In addition to her magazine editorial work, Leibovitz has created influential advertising campaigns for American Express, the Gap, the Milk Board, and Louis Vuitton. She has worked with many arts organizations, including American Ballet Theatre, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Mark Morris Dance Group, and with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Her books include Annie Leibovitz: Photographs (1983), Photographs: Annie Leibovitz, 1970—1990 (1991), Olympic Portraits (1996), Women (1999), American Music (2003), and A Photographer’s Life (2006). Exhibitions of her work have appeared in museums and galleries all over the world, including the National Portrait Gallery and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.; the International Center of Photography in New York; the Brooklyn Museum; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris; and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Leibovitz has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress and is the recipient of many other honors including the Barnard College Medal of Distinction and the Infinity Award in Applied Photography from the International Center of Photography. She was decorated a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. She lives in New York with her three children, Sarah, Susan, and Samuelle.
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Book Description Random House, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. As new clean tight and bright first edition first printing. Please email for photos. Larger books or sets may require additional shipping charges. Books sent via US Postal. Bookseller Inventory # 77454
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Book Description Random House Inc, Westminster, Maryland, U.S.A., 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. 4to - over 9¾ - 12" tall. SIGNED by Annie on the Title Page. 1st Edition. 1st Printing. Book dosen't come with a dust jacket but it does have a paper band around it with the paper in Mylar. New copy. Never read. Front and back boards are bowed a tiny bit. The book does lay flat. It is still a beautiful copy. COLLECTOR'S COPY. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 000916
Book Description Random House, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0375505105