Book Review: At Work by Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is one of the most well known magazine cover photographers around the world today. She has easily graced the covers of more than one of the magazines that you have ever held in your hands, and no doubt will continue to make an impression on the reading/viewing world of the future. Her body of work is expansive, and her style is iconic but raw.

Her work often explores personalities that Annie wishes to bring out in people; whether they are the personalities of the people that she is actually photographing or not isn’t really the point. It’s the fact that you can see these personalities easily and that in itself evokes emotion from your soul.

At Work is a narrative from the eyes of the artist, Annie Leibovitz, who steps the reader through the different phases in her photographic career; starting at Nixons Resignation and on tour with the Rolling Stones, through her coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Demi Moors iconic pregnancy photograph, and the Queen of England.

This type of photography book, or even autobiographies, give you an introspective into the life of the artist that a biography just cannot provide. The reader gets a casual stroll through the life of the artist and all their journeys that they wish to explore with the reader. It’s incredible to learn about the behind the scenes processes that go on.

For example, she talks about how Keith Haring (shown above) was supposed to take this photograph with white pants on, but they soon both realized that that just wasn’t the way the photograph was supposed to look.

Annie really amazes me at the with the sets that she puts together. As you can see with Haring’s photo above it was a fairly elaborate set, but also on location, how certain photographs just happen rather spontaneously, like the shoot with Arnold on his property and beautiful stallion.

It’s also pretty interesting to read about the cautions a lot of people, being influential figures, face when doing a photoshoot. Often times, as a photographer, as a creative photographer, one wants to evoke some kind of emotions from the viewer. Annie talks a lot about how she dealt with this, how she persuaded the artists to take the photograph, and in some cases, some repercussions from that particular photograph in the years to follow.

Annie goes into discussion at the end of the book about her equipment that she uses, both in the old days and in the new times, and reminisces about her growing pains when converting from film to digital and what this conversion has opened up for her as a photographer. Having a monologue in this fashion is very intriguing because it also illuminates some issues that many new photographers will most likely face as they expand and grow in their field.

I enjoyed this read immensely. Annie is an inspiration, and a mentor to nearly any photographer around who looks to create art with their camera. Having so much insight into an artists work, with photographs and a very identifiable timeline, is used as advice for anybody looking to grow, as well as insight into the journey one of the most celebrated photographers today has gone through in her career.

I suggest At Work. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear how you enjoyed this book!

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