Annie Leibovitz, she who photographed a nude John Lennon kissing Yoko Ono they day before the tragedy, took some time for a short interview for Fast Company while working on “Dream Portraits” for Disney Parks.
I like her work and her subject choices. She answered candidly, and with a lot of humility, questions about her work and her approach. I find myself nodding and agreeing to what she has to say. Subject matters one can think of with photography is vast! And hers is just one of many choices anyone can choose to specialize in photography, it just so happens that, at a tangent, her work resonates with what I want to accomplish with mine. And her post-production comment is one I find myself spending most of my time.
When it comes to photo shoot subjects, she said …
“The hardest thing to do, actually, is a single person image because then it’s just me relating to that person.”
To me, it’s the opposite. As long as you have some sort of connection with the person you’re photographing, and that you clearly know what shots you want to get, with the right conditions, you should be able to capture the images and convey the emotions you want to project. I am least comfortable with groups, just because I feel like it’s harder to manage more than one talent, and I easily feel nervous especially if I don’t know all of them good enough – I find myself rushing the work. I usually work with people I already know, or talents I’ve already made some sort of connection prior to the shoot, whether in person or through social media. I haven’t worked with total strangers, as I find it difficult to get the shot I want of them, and if I get it it’s unrelatable.
Edit! It’s almost impossible to get the perfect shot when working on drag portraiture or event photography. If you’re going for journalistic photographs, editing is out of the question, it would be a lie to touch-up a photograph taken from the front lines. With drag portraiture and themed photography, a lot of the work is done in post production. It could go anywhere from thirty minutes to twelve hours per still, depending on the complexity and detail of the image one wants to achieve.
Even with event photography, I take extra time selecting only the best shots and doing little touch-ups on the main subject to make them look better, but to a point. Hence, events will take weeks to release and portraiture or themed photo shoots will take at least two weeks to release.
When it comes to post production, she said …
Those who want to be serious photographers, you’re really going to have to edit your work. You’re going to have to understand what you’re doing. You’re going to have to not just shoot, shoot, shoot. To stop and look at your work is the most important thing you can do.
I do this! It may sound narcissistic but I do take time to look at the edited photos I produce, a little bit to check for flaws, quality assurance, but mostly to admire the work … “Oh, it’s so good.” LOL If I’m not convinced, it won’t see the light of day. We are our worst critique. Photographs I release is a reflection of my skill. So I try.
Lastly, she talked about the need to know your subject matter. I do a lot of research before a shoot, not just planning shoots but knowing what the theme is all about so I can decide what kind of shoots to take and what kind of emotions that needs to be portrayed. This is very important especially with cosplay photography. Your shoots need to make sense, in the context of the character the cosplayer is cosplaying. Like for example, a Snow White doing a karate pose would not make sense, or a Jango Fett doing a tippy toe kiss pose is utterly blasphemous … but then, if your going for weird, by all means.
I think Annie Leibovitz is a great photographer people can look up to, not really for style because that’s a very personal choice, but in terms of discipline and keeping your head in the game.