I have always enjoyed Annie Leibovitz‘ work, and in the past few days enrolled in her online Masterclass.
It was most interesting, and I learnt lots of things about how she creates portraits. Her job is to understand the subject, and create a portrait which brings that understanding alive. Her job is not just to put the subject at ease. I was quite impressed with the pre-shoot research that she does.
I was most taken with her approach to simple but effective lighting, with a single strobe balancing the ambient light. She makes good use of cloudy days, and early light. And Annie is happy to use Photoshop to tidy things up.
There were reference documents to download, and an active online community.
Inspired, I decided to treat myself to her latest Photo Book, Portraits 2005-2016. It’s just excellent.
Here are a few images I especially enjoyed.
Alexandra Fuller, 2016
A great example of ‘environmental portraiture’, looks easy but love that balanced light.
Annie noted in the Masterclass that too many lights can take away what natural light gives you.
Bruce Springsteen, 2016
She also noted that you don’t have a person’s soul … just a flat moment of it in a picture. Annie loves creating a series, a photo story, with each image a different aspect of the subject.
Kim Kardashian, North West, Kanye West 2014
In the Masterclass, Annie also happily admitted that she had photoshopped herself out of the image.
Queen Elizabeth II, 2016
How on earth did she manage to get all those Corgis lined up? Magic I guess, or was it Royal instruction?
By the way, Annie seemed quite proud of the fact that she threw ‘The Decisive Moment’ out of the window a long time ago …
If you haven’t got Annie’s latest book, there is still time for Christmas!