There are very few people in the world whose blue-jeaned crotch is of any interest to me.
John Lennon is not among them.
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.
Originally Posted by blansky
What I find interesting about this shot has little to do with the photograph. Frankly, it could have been shot by Yoko.
Agree with most previous posters.
Originally Posted by donbga
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!
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!
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 ( ) 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
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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.
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.
If the photo is by AL, I am unlikely to care for it.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
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".
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
I'd be a lot more interested to see a picture of Lennon done by Imogen.