Artist of the day: ANNIE LEIBOVITZ
Vanity Fair cover by Annie Liebovitz, August 1991
‘Life is pretty strange anyway..’
Annie Liebovitz is one of my favorite photographers. She’s just amazing.
Angelina Jolie by Annie Liebovitz for Vanity Fair in March 2006
Annie Leibovitz (American, b. 1949), Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rob Besserer, Cumberland Island, Georgia, 1990, chromogenic print, photograph © Annie Leibovitz, from Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990–2005
I just found this interview with her today. Here is a small part of it:
ABB: – Are you shy?
AL : – Oh! We are all shy. No one knows how to talk. Sometimes we sit in my studio and everywhere is very quiet and no one talks. It drives me crazy… There must be a reason why people who are photographers are not very good at verbal communication. I don’t want to believe this, as I think we get lazy. We think because we are photographers we don’t have to try to communicate. But I know from my own personal experience that it’s hard to watch something to go on and then suddenly to be talking at the same time.
– Could you say that you feel better when you hide yourself, your shyness, behind the camera. We hide and ten we start shooting…
– I don’t think it is that complicated. I think that when you are younger the camera is like a friend and you can go places and feel like you’re with someone, like you have a companion. And also it’s a license and it makes you feel you have a right to walk around and you are doing something. I think what happens is that you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much, especially when you’re younger, that you forget that you actually exist, you know what I mean?… But things change, you get older and you have different tools and different approach and you learn to use photography differently.
– Having a camera puts you in a different position…
– When I was younger I did things with a camera I would not do by myself. I remember going down to the docks in San Francisco and asking a fisherman if he would take me out on his boat. I would never do that without a camera.
– It is a sort of protection.
– I think it’s a license. In times it has been a protection. At my Rolling Stones’ tour it was a protection. I used it in a Zen way. If I didn’t have my camera to remind me constantly “I am here to do this” then I would eventually have slipped away, I think. I would eventually have forgotten my reason to exist. It’s a heavy weight the camera you know. Now we have modern and light-weight small plastic cameras, but in the 70-ties they were heavy-metal.
– When I interview people I always ask this as a first question. Here it comes as the last. What do you prefer cats or dogs?
– Oh God! If I had any they would be dead…
– No, but I mean from esthetic point of view…
– They would be rotten dead cats and dogs because I am never home! Recently I’ve been looking at Russel teriers… they’re very smart… I met one.
– Oh! So, you’re for the dogs! What a shame!
– I came to work one day and there was a very ugly white puddle under my studio manager’s desk and she was trying to hide it. I asked – what is that!? This fat, overweight, big, ugly puddle?!… And it turns out it was her mother’s dog and it’s called Jazzman… It’s like “your mother’s dog’s name” , ha, ha, ha… So I’ve grown to really like the dog very much. I think it’s dogs. What do you like, what you have? You have a cat.
– I have a cat, black cat… It’s name is Pimpa…
– Ooh! Suddenly you look like a black cat…
— Because I have been or I will be a cat in my future life, that’s for sure…
– As soon as you say it you look like a cat. I liked talking to you because you are a photographer.
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano and series creator David Chase with “a friend.” Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.
Vanity Fair by Annie Liebovitz
Tina Fey in Vanity Fair Photographed by Annie Leibovitz; styled by Michael Roberts
And now.. here it is.. my very favorite image by Annie Liebovitz
On December 8, 1980, Leibovitz had a photo shoot with John Lennon for Rolling Stone, promising him he would make the cover. After she had initially tried to get a picture with just Lennon alone, which is what Rolling Stone wanted, Lennon insisted that both he and Yoko Ono be on the cover. Leibovitz then tried to re-create something like the kissing scene from the Double Fantasy album cover, a picture that she loved. She had John remove his clothes and curl up next to Yoko. Leibovitz recalls, “What is interesting is she said she’d take her top off and I said, ‘Leave everything on’ — not really preconceiving the picture at all. Then he curled up next to her and it was very, very strong. You couldn’t help but feel that she was cold and he looked like he was clinging on to her. I think it was amazing to look at the first Polaroid and they were both very excited. John said, ‘You’ve captured our relationship exactly. Promise me it’ll be on the cover.’ I looked him in the eye and we shook on it.” Leibovitz was the last person to professionally photograph Lennon—he was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman five hours later.