Thursday, January 1, 2009

Top Ten #2 – Annie Leibovitz: At Work

Annie Leibovitz's new book "At Work" was perhaps the stealth photo event of the year. Primarily a text rather than a picture book, it is nonetheless one of the most interesting photography books of the year, taking us behind the scenes to reveal not so much the technical aspects of a shoot, but the mental and physical preparations before and the psychological and strategic footwork during the taking of many of her most famous images.

Seamlessly interviewed and edited out of Leibovitz by the skilled editor, Sharon Delano, the book is a smooth and engrossing read from start to finish that entertains with all manner of autobiographical stories from Leibovitz's student days to the present, as well as her almost awestruck perspective and stories about other famous photographers.

There is an interesting selection of photographs - a mixture of iconic images and more obscure ones - and it's surprising to see how well they work printed smaller than postcard size. Much credit is obviously also due to the printers.

For anyone looking for lighting tips this isn't necessarily the book (although Leibovitz does provide a technical glossary as well as answers to her ten most frequently asked questions) but for readers looking to understand more about Leibovitz's art as well as what really counts - what's in an artist's head - this book is a treasure.


Joe Holmes said...

Leibovitz's book is wonderful -- I only wish it had twice the text!

And it makes an interesting companion to Sam Abell's "The Life of a Photograph."

I like Abell's images, though they're very National Geographic and not everyone's cup of tea. But the book does something that makes it good for repeat visits -- he often places a pair of images on facing pages, two shots that represent two different framings of the same scene. He doesn't disclose which one he prefers, or which (if either) was published, so it's a fun parlor game to play with a friend, to describe which shot you prefer and why.

Abell also waxes philosophical quite a bit, which is very effective; he talks a lot about the patience of finding a scene he likes and then waiting until something happens to make it special.

murad rm photography said...

ahhh goona get this book for sure. thanks for sharing :)

NVA said...

sound interesting....

i want this book, too^^