Thursday, February 26, 2009

Annie Leibovitz at Work

After watching a documentary on Annie Leibovitz (Life Through a Lens) on my flight from Singapore to New York some months back, I was not only inspired, but I think she is one of the best photographers today. When she released her book Annie Leibovitz at Work, I dropped by Riceball Photography Bookstore to grab it, and it was a good and easy read. It is like sitting with Annie hearing her recount the different phases of her life and the people she had met and take photographs of. It is totally non-technical, but it gets into the heart and mind of one of the greatest photographers, and how she views her role in capturing life. In fact, it goes beyond anything a technical book on photography can teach you about, and helps you see life in a new perspective, and how as a photographer, you can capture an image of that part of your life.

Right at the end of the book, there is a section where Annie talks about equipment, and it can be summed up in her words, "Digital gives a more honest view of how things actually look, and with the advent of all these possibilities, I still want the pictures to look like they're real. Whatever camera helps me do that is the camera I'm going to use. I'm not nostalgic about cameras. When I talk about how important the camera is to me, I mean the idea of the camera. What photography does. I'm not into it because of the equipment, and I'm not concerned with the things that concern more technically acute people. I want to use whatever helps me take a picture in all kinds of light with faster speed and fewer problems. I changed my 35mm digital camera four times in one year. As soon as I hear there's a better one out, I'll try it." (page 207) There is also a section entitled "Ten Most-Asked Questions" where she gives her views on them. The 10 questions are:

1. What advice do you have for a young photographer who is just starting out?
2. What is your favorite photograph?
3. Who's the most difficult person you've ever photographed?
4. How many pictures do you take?
5. Are you happy with the move from film to digital?
6. How is photographing a celebrity different from photographing a regular person?
7. Where do you get your ideas?
8. When do you know you have a good picture?
9. How much direction do you give?
10. How do you set people at ease and get them to do the things that they do in your pictures?

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