Annie Leibovitz teaches photography!

‘There’s this idea that in portaiture it’s the photographer’s job to set the subject at ease. I don’t believe that. Robert Penn Warren was writing about dying and death and I just asked him to take his shirt off, but it was more like I wanted to see his skeleton. He didn’t have any guard or shield. What are my favourite photographs? Agnes Martin sitting in her painting studio. She said to me, ‘I sit here and I wait to be inspired’. I’d loved that. And so I said, ‘I just want you to sit there’. Isn’t that what we all do? We wait to be inspired. All the work that I’ve ever done, the ideas emanate from that person. Stand over here. Present yourself. We are so complicated as human beings, there are so many parts to us, that’s where the ideas come from. Even in the most set up situation I believe there is something really going on. ‘I’m so not a technical photographer.’ If that’s what you’re thinking about, you are not taking pictures. When you first start off, stay with one lens and see what it does. Photograph the people close to you. Your family, your friends. That’s how I learned. When you photograph people, it’s about history, it’s about looking in our time, our culture and our society – through portraits. Don’t be afraid to be obsessed. Take the camera, go out in the world, and find a way to tell a story that means something to you.’ /Annie Leibovitz/

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