Anna-Lou “Annie” Leibovitz (1949) is an American portrait photographer. She photographed John Lennon on the day he was assassinated, and her work has been used on numerous album covers and magazines. She became the first woman to hold an exhibition at Washington’s National Portrait Gallery in 1991. Leibovitz is much influenced by Richard Avedon, and his “personal reportage”, developing close rapport with her subjects.
Successful Photography encompasses more than just photography. Annie Leibovitz is a successful photographer not only because she shoots well and knows her work, but also because she knows how to market her ideas and creative outputs. She has a creative team to provide consistent outputs. Successful professional photographers can afford (and usually do afford) a creative and business marketing team, a point that’s seldom taken into consideration when factoring in reasons behind their success, since in photography, success is nothing but continuous production of your brand in a consistent manner.
The use of texture and background: Leibovitz highlights and loves texture. When a lot of photographers would probably get rid of textures to create “less confusion and distractions”, Leibobitz uses texture to create not only drama but also interesting backgrounds and surroundings, which project the subjects in a way that’s almost about to tell a story. The portrait below of Meryl Streep does try to tell a story through a single shot:
Shooting women with a very non-traditional lens: In most of the times, women are shot in poses that suggests shaky structure, less powerful postures and more as objects of gratification. On the contrary, women portrayed in Leibovitz’s photographs as persons are real, relaxed, powerful, confident and just themselves. Following is a picture of Sheryl Sandberg, as shot by Leibovitz:
There’re people in the background who are not cloned out, there’s an extra chair just as they lie around in office spaces and there’s a Sheryl Sandberg looking most real and comfortable in her own space, without trying too hard to create the sense of power through intense eyes and gritting teeth as they are done in by some other photographers.
She started practicing amateur photography in high school, studied Arts and then worked for Ralph Gibson. She attained fame after working as freelance photographer for Rolling Stone magazine and shooting documentary images for the Rolling Stones ’75 USA tour.
Hard working, famous subjects, a unique artistic vision, and excellent business sense. Now she’s one of the most expensive photographers to hire in the world.