Artist Spotlight: Annie Leibovitz Documentary

Annie Gargoyle
Annie Leibovitz on Chrysler building gargoyle, by: John Loengard

Annie RollingStone Cover
Rolling Stone magazine cover, John Lennon and Yoko Ono by: Annie Leibovitz

By: Aleksandra Bulatskaya

Annie Leibovitz. There’s no introduction needed when you’re talking about one of the most prolific photographers of our time. Her nude photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, taken just hours before Lennon was assassinated captured not just the tenderness of their relationship but an entire era.

The “Life Through A Lens” documentary is an introspective not about a famous photographer but the simple actions of a woman that lead to her becoming who she was meant to be.

Whether it’s shooting George Clooney on the shores of Lake Como for Vogue or documenting war in Rwanda, Leibovitz is a rare artist whose style is both fluid and distinct.

From her beginnings living in a San Francisco apartment so small her room was the closet, to single handedly creating imagery that’s become synonymous with Vanity Fair. Leibovitz is a rare breed of artist who can get anything she wants and do work she is truly passionate about.

“I would like to say I’m a photographer and sometimes my work is this and sometimes it’s something else,” said Leibovitz in the film, referring to what she perceives as a lack of a specific style. “I like to keep recording to see what life is… a photographers life is just a life working through a lens.”

As a young photographer, she drove to the Rolling Stone offices with a bag of snapshots and was hired on the spot. Eventually becoming the first Chief Photographer for the publication. Rolling Stone gave her the creative license to develop her signature style. At the time, other publications focused more on grand moments. Leibovitz’s work focused on small elements that gave her work humanity and life.

Lennon himself said that she captured the dynamic of his and Yoko’s relationship, “perfectly.” She came to the shoot with Lennon with no preconceived notions or poses, shooting the couple as they were.

“I never liked to presume anything about a person until I got there,” said Leibovitz. “When you think something will be nothing, it will be most likely something.”

She’s brought the same honestly to recording even her personal relationships. When her friend (and rumored one-time lover) writer and political activist, Susan Sontag was dying, Leibovitz photographed her death and final moments.

Perhaps this is why even her more commercial work with Vanity Fair, is still distinctly her own. The pitfall of success in art, is usually the fear of it loosing the artists original intent.

When she was began photographing celebrities for Vanity Fair, Leibovitz stayed true to her individual vision. The photograph of a nude, pregnant Demi Moore was not only beautiful and provocative but statement about motherhood in our society.

For the true Leibovitz follower, a true exploration of her work could take months but watching “Life Through A Lens” provides the perfect glimpse into the mind of a creative genius.

To watch “Life Through A Lens” click here.

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