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CraigK
10-10-2006, 08:58 PM
There are very few people in the world whose blue-jeaned crotch is of any interest to me.

John Lennon is not among them.

jd callow
10-10-2006, 11:17 PM
I never really cared much for Liebovitz from when I wrote that Ansel Liebovitz parody a couple of years ago. I think she's a photographer who works by committee and one of her shoots has enough "assistants" as if she were shooting a movie.



A friend of mine was an assistant to Liebovitz. Based on what he told me you are being generous. One thing is for sure, If your subjects are the world's most famous people you are going to do AOK.

What I find interesting about this shot has little to do with the photograph. Frankly, it could have been shot by Yoko.

David H. Bebbington
10-11-2006, 12:40 AM
...

Her flair for posing and getting celebs to do somewhat unusal poses was one of the reasons she suceeded as she has. FWIW, I think most of her best stuff was done in her Rolling Stone Magazine years.

I've also heard through the grapevine she is impossible to work for and can treat her assistants shamefully. My polite way of saying she is a Bee Eye Itch.

Agree with most previous posters.

My impression is that AL is dedicated to the point of obsession and self-assertive to the point of arrogance (if not beyond). The wider question is - do you have to be this way to get to the top, particularly as a celebrity portraitist (bearing in mind that for celebrity photographers further down the tree than AL, the boot is on the other foot, with celebrities treating the photographers like dirt)? An interesting situation, when you consider that even in the case of photographers like AL, if celebrities feel the photographer is becoming too much the star, they will freeze him/her out in an instant!

Once again, a good picture for debate!

Regards,

David

Tony Egan
10-11-2006, 03:37 AM
I lean towards Blansky's views. At the risk of being labelled a pseudo-intellectual wanker, I think this is a case where Roland Barthes' concepts of the "studium" and the "punctum" are helpful in analysis.

As a "study" of a young man from a Western culture, relaxing with a musical instrument in inauspicious surroundings it's a kinda average photograph -one most of us could replicate of a friend/brother/partner/Uncle Bob quite readily.

The "point" is it is John Lennon; he wrote some of the most memorable/popular songs in history; he died a violent and untimely death; when I look at him many memories and emotions come flooding back; I get taken away to a different place...etc etc. The proverbial wild man from Borneo looking at this might be curious about the clothing, glasses, hair intrument etc. Mostly "studium" if any "punctum" at all.

So the "point" about celebrity photography is that. The "studium" doesn't really rate unless it's about fashion trends or the like The point is it's a celebrity. How many simply awful full frontal flash photos do you see in trashy celeb magazines? This one is certainly a cut above those but photographically to me it's all about the Lennon "punctum" and what flows from that.

Who knew Uncle Bob test = esoteric French philosophy!

catem
10-11-2006, 04:43 AM
A minor point, perhaps, and not necessarily to disagree with anything much, but I think there's a difference between 'celebrity' and 'icon', and John Lennon definitely comes into the latter category, which makes appreciation/perception of this photo a bit different from most of L's.

Quite interesting to compare it with the Che Guevara photo, which as a young teen I would definitely have chosen to have on my wall rather than this one (in fact didn't have either). However, with the benefit of maturer years (:p ) although I still think the Che Guevara one is great, I can see that it is in the 'romantic' vein which at least this one, in it's 'banality' (not necessarily bad) escapes...

O.k. enough from me ;)

Cate

jp80874
10-11-2006, 06:35 AM
If you like Annie Leibovitz's work, you might also enjoy the book "Annie Leibovitz American Music". The 2003 Random House book of 240 pictures expanded on her summer of 2004, eighty picture exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. This picture was not in the book and in my memory not in the exibit.

John Powers

Mick Fagan
10-11-2006, 08:17 AM
Tony, I think you have hit the nail on the head, fair and square.

Camera Lucida and Roland's Studium and Punctum, make for some very fascinating reading.

I think he knocked it off the Italians, a studium is a high place of learning, as in tertiary education (university) AFAIK.

Mick.

Claire Senft
10-11-2006, 09:47 AM
If the photo is by AL, I am unlikely to care for it.

blansky
10-11-2006, 09:50 AM
I was pondering this last night. And maybe it boils down to this.

Anybody can take a picture of a beautiful woman. Most people, men and women are somehow attracted to look at them. We are drawn to it.

You'd have to be pretty much of a loser photographer to screw up a picture like this.

And anybody with access can photograph a celeb. For some bizarre reason we are drawn to that as well.

But a good photographer with skill, craft and compassion can photograph a "plain" woman and draw out her beauty. This beauty will attract people on a much higher level than eye candy.

A good photographer with skill, craft and compassion can photograph an ordinary person (uncle bob) and make this person interesting and compelling.

That's why I dislike the celebration of mediocrity by applauding "easy shoots".

Michael

jimgalli
10-11-2006, 11:19 AM
I'd be a lot more interested to see a picture of Lennon done by Imogen.

GraemeMitchell
10-12-2006, 06:52 AM
That's why I dislike the celebration of mediocrity by applauding "easy shoots".

Michael

I disagree with this. Have you ever shot a celeb? It takes a special personality to do well. You have 10-20 mins; you have very very sensitive and big and odd egos; you have a pr person hounding you at every turn, and you're usually dealing with people who literally HATE to be photographed (love to act, but hate to be photographed). It's a odd game.

Even if Annie is just a celeb 'commercial' photog, I still think most people here are overlooking how good at it she is. I mean she nails it everytime. And who cares if she's mean to her assistants (btw, not a pre-req by any means, lots of shooters like this are way cool and easy going: Robert Mawell, Lindbergh, etc). I just don't think it matters in regards to the picture.

And I think if you charged Annie with taking a pic of Uncle Bob she'd handle it nicely.

(And I'm not even a huge fan of her work...I just appreciate how good she is at it.)

bjorke
10-12-2006, 10:04 AM
...Part of this is because we seem to have this strange relationships with media created celebrities...There is no other kind. There were occasional famous people, but no celebrities before 1840. THey are a creation -- a side effect -- of Photography.

AL seems to be pushing the grotesque notion that (now that the real thing is gone) she is the new Avedon, rather than just the sycophantic voice of the studio PR department. Her photos, like an Oprah show, only show you what you expected to see anyway.

blansky
10-12-2006, 10:25 AM
I disagree with this. Have you ever shot a celeb? It takes a special personality to do well. You have 10-20 mins; you have very very sensitive and big and odd egos; you have a pr person hounding you at every turn, and you're usually dealing with people who literally HATE to be photographed (love to act, but hate to be photographed). It's a odd game.

Even if Annie is just a celeb 'commercial' photog, I still think most people here are overlooking how good at it she is. I mean she nails it everytime. And who cares if she's mean to her assistants (btw, not a pre-req by any means, lots of shooters like this are way cool and easy going: Robert Mawell, Lindbergh, etc). I just don't think it matters in regards to the picture.

And I think if you charged Annie with taking a pic of Uncle Bob she'd handle it nicely.

(And I'm not even a huge fan of her work...I just appreciate how good she is at it.)

Shooting children is easy?

Shooting execs and CEOs is easy?

Shooting Weddings is easy?

Shooting wars is easy?

Granted celeb hangers ons, are a pain in the ass, but this genre is not all that different than any shoot. Get it done and get out.

Leibovitz also gets an incredible amount of time with subjects. I believe the latest masterpiece, the Tom Cruise thing, she had a week.


Michael

GraemeMitchell
10-12-2006, 02:58 PM
Granted celeb hangers ons, are a pain in the ass, but this genre is not all that different than any shoot. Get it done and get out.

I disagree with this too, humbly. All the things you listed are different, some easier, some more diffucult. All depends...and speaking in generalities of course. I don't think it's ever as simple as get in and get out, at least not if you're good...except maybe in war photography, which I know nothing of.

My original point, which I stand by, is that people flip through mags and look at work by the likes of Annie (or any top fashion or celeb shooter) and, well, act as the peanut gallery, so to speak. When most people have no idea how difficult it is to produce work on that level. Like they have a general idea, but always fall back on, big budgets, big lights, lots of assistants, and a famous name. Sure, big lights are cool, but there is more to it than that. If there wasn't, everyone would be doing it.

Anyway, this is off topic of the original post, I apologize. I'll exit.

Cheryl Jacobs
10-12-2006, 05:32 PM
With all due respect, who can say what kind of work is "easier" and what kind is "difficult"? I find landscapes ridiculously hard, whereas my husband finds them very easy to shoot well. I find photographing kids to be easy and natural, while it wouldn't be so easy for him (outside of our own kids.) You can only judge what is easy or hard for you, not for everyone.

That said, I know it's difficult for AL to bring out a spark and a connection wiith her subjects. Before you pounce on me for saying that, I know it because she herself said so in a TV interview yesterday. She readily admitted that unlike a few other prominent photographers, she has a hard time connecting with people when photographing them. That's precisely what I see in her photography; it's a record of appearances. That's why I'm not terribly impressed with it. She does use her assistants to try to bring the spark out of her subjects, but it's not the same thing.

Part of the difficulty in photographing people anywhere is that you're rarely dealing with just the actual photography. There are almost always parents, onlookers, constraints, and other distractions to be dealt with. Most photographers don't work with an army of assistants who are assigned to deal with the majority of the distractions. When I photograph people, I am the bouncer, the entertainer, the therapist, the wardrobe designer, the make-up artist, the PR person, the legal analyst, the gopher, the film-loader, the connection-maker, everything. Nobody to do it for me, and the success of the work depends on my ability to wear all those hats. And I have to do it all in an hour or two, not the two weeks granted to AL to photograph TomKateSuri. Imagine what I could do if half those items were taken off my job description. ;)

I'm not saying she is an untalented photographer, only that what she does just doesn't impress me. I don't find her work to be insightful or moving. Colorful and fun, absolutely.

Pastiche
10-12-2006, 09:20 PM
I have no idea who the hell that is in the snapshot.

MattKing
10-12-2006, 11:28 PM
When I photograph people, I am the bouncer, the entertainer, the therapist, the wardrobe designer, the make-up artist, the PR person, the legal analyst, the gopher, the film-loader, the connection-maker, everything.

Cheryl:

This seems to be perfect for either a new signature, or a new T-shirt. I may "borrow" it.

Matt

severian
10-13-2006, 05:08 AM
this whole thread brings to mind a book that a student recently brought to me. For the life of me I cant remember the guys name( it's very early in the morning) anyway he is very au currant and hip and I am not. The photographs were of people who were evidently A list celebrities. They were all photographed in a hallway and under much the same conditions. Very boring, The only reason I would turn the page was to see who the next celebity was. My interest waned after about three pages.The book was gorgeous. The photographs were wonderfully crafted but in the end the content was repetitive and ,for me, not very interesting. Thats interesting to me because I could look at the celebrity photographs made by Irving Penn all day even though they were made under the same repetitive conditions.
Jack B

Dorothy Blum Cooper
10-13-2006, 07:39 AM
I am not really interested in Leibovitz as a photographer. I am just wondering what others think of this particular picture as a photograph and also as a portrait.

Maybe if she'd have used black and white film it would have had more of an impact. ;) Otherwise...it doesn't do a whole lot for me.


I'd be a lot more interested to see a picture of Lennon done by Imogen.

:)

lee
10-13-2006, 09:03 AM
I find that I am looking at this image in context for which it is used...in an record album jacket. I think it serves its purpose. I think most of you all are making way too big a deal with this image. More than likely it was the art director that chose the image and not AL. There were probably a zillion images to choose from and why this one was chosen is beyond us to know.

lee\c