Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Annie Leibovitz speak about some of her work, which has spanned the last 50 years. She spoke at the Tobin Center for Performing Arts in San Antonio. She’s been a contributing photographer for publications such as Rolling Stone Magazine and Vanity Fair, was the tour photographer for the band, Rolling Stones in the 1970s and has published numerous books of her famous work.
Perhaps her most recognized image, for those who may be unfamiliar with her work, is the last image taken of John Lennon, naked and huddled next to Yoko Ono. See her speak about the image HERE.
As Leibovitz came on stage to roaring applause, visibly uncomfortable with the praise and gesturing for the audience to cease the accolade, she thanked the near sell-out crowd and jumped right into images and stories. Most were from her 2008 book, At Work, which recently went back to print.
After the printing company used for the first edition closed, she tested another for months, not finding the correct color, depth and quality, before deciding to cancel the reprint altogether. Eventually, the right publisher was found. The attention to authentic representation of her work is commendable. As a creative who values the same, I’m often plagued with receiving prints and products that show unintended color casts or lack luminosity, even after all the necessary proofing steps have been taken. It’s an ongoing battle present with anyone printing work.
Leibovitz went on to share images followed by readings from her books or personal stories about the experience. She was humorous, modest and eased her discomfort of being in front of the crowd by running her hand through her hair or looking down, stroking her furrowed brow.
During a Q&A following the talk, a women asked how she can make her portrait clients feel comfortable in front of the camera, to which Leibovitz answered, “I don’t think it’s the photographer’s job to make people feel comfortable.”
The images were impossibly moving. The dissection of her thoughts humble, the audience hanging on to her every word, audibly wowed as images scrolled the screen. I was entranced by the beauty, depth and emotion behind the images. I long to know more. To be an intern or assistant, observing her work, seeing the process, witnessing the magic first hand.
So where does one go from here, inspired, yearning for more? I think a personal project is in the works for me. When I was in art school, we were given assignments and let loose, no rules, no one telling you what they prefer from the images, free to push boundaries. It’s been years since I took on a personal project. While I’m not yet sure what it’ll entail, it’s at the front of my mind.
Recap from San Antonio’s Rivard Report found HERE.