And a hush came over the room. Yep, that's what happened as Annie entered the Legion of Honor's press preview gathering. Annie Leibovitz has a quiet presence, but you certainly feel it. As I posted last week, I was invited to the press tour of Annie Leibovitz's new exhibit Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990–2005 at San Francisco's Legion of Honor, and as promised, here's a report of my extraordinary day. Once again, thank you so much to the Legion of Honor for this invitation and amazing opportunity.
She says "Life is more interesting than having to make it up."
Lucky journalists, photojournalists and bloggers like myself, were given a walking tour with Annie Leibovitz around the exhibit and were treated to her candid, funny, sometimes serious and a little bit self-effacing dialogue about some of her most celebrated photographs. Annie Leibovitz has been documenting the faces of those who shape our lives over the last forty years, and captures those faces with unique perception and infinite love for the art of photography. Ms. Leibovitz was visibly moved to be back in San Francisco, where she actually began her career, as a student at San Francisco's Art Institute, not as a photographer, but as a painter. Perhaps her studies as a painter are what gives her eye such an interesting sense of balance and beautiful composition. While studying at the Art Institute, Annie also studied photography at night.
running her hands through her hair; and Susan Sontag.
When asked about photographers she admired, Annie said she very much admired the photos by Alfred Stieglitz of Georgia O'Keefe, and the honest artistry of Diane Arbus. She said her own photos are often 'gushy' because she wants too much to like people. She said, "put me in a room with Nixon, and I'll think, well, he's a nice guy". She said she wanted to be able to shoot like Arbus, who shared with us photographs of people we didn't want to see, but she is too nice.
the highlights in her mother's hair look to me like a crown;
Standing before her beautiful landscapes.
Annie says her new, and deeply personal book, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990–2005, came from a place of grief, after the loss of her father, and her long time companion, Susan Sontag, who died in 2004 after a long battle with cancer. She said she is very proud of the book, but also had some misgivings about publishing such very personal photographs. The beautiful, and really heavy book (it's over 470 pages and weighs almost nine pounds!) contains not only her celebrated photographs, but personal snapshots of her life with Susan Sontag, her three children, family and friends. It's worth the weight. “I don’t have two lives,” Annie Leibovitz writes in the introduction to this collection. “This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it.”