Annie Leibovitz: The Pilgrimage Exhibit!

| November 23, 2014 | 1 Comment






Annie Leibovitz (Photo Credit: James Hamlett)



On November 19th, 2014 I attended and took pictures at an event for famed photographer Annie Leibovitz.  It was an exhibit of Annie Leibovitz photographs which is being held at the New York Historical Society.  I was there to cover the story for New York Trend Newspaper.  The Annie Leibovitz exhibit: Pilgrimage is a collection of images that were not photographed for money.  This collection of photos were taken by Annie Leibovitz because she had a definite interest in the individuals and subject matter.  The actual exhibition will run from November 21, 2014 to February 22, 2015.  There are a total of 78 photographs in the exhibit.  The individuals and subject matter covered in the exhibit include: Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pete Seeger, Elvis Presley, Old Faithful, Yosemite Valley, and Niagara Falls.   Annie Leibovitiz is a world famous photographer and has captured the images of celebrities which in turn has helped her to create iconic photographs.  The photographs in this exhibit are based on the 2011 Annie Leibovitz book also called Pilgrimage.

The professional career of Annie Leibovitz started when she became a staff photographer for Rolling Stone Magazine in 1970.  At this point in her career she had photographed several musical artists which include: The Rolling Stones, Joan Armatrading and the late John Lennon.  Annie Leibovitz has even gone on tour with The Rolling Stones and photographed them in 1975.  In the 1980’s Annie got a position to photograph celebrities for Vanity Fair.  In 2007 Annie Leibovitz  took a series of iconic images of celebrity photos for The Walt Disney Company.

In order to understand and grasp the caliber of Annie Leibovitz celebrity images, let’s take a look at some of the celebrities she has photographed.  The celebrities include: Demi Moore, Nelson Mandela, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hilary Clinton, The Queen of England, Michael Jackson, George Clooney, Fleetwood Mac, Sting, Bill Gates, and Lady Gaga.  That is a very short list.


Annie Leibovitz (Photo Credit: James Hamlett)

Annie Leibovitz actually appeared at The New York Historical Society and took the press on a guided tour of the photographs.  She gave her insights, history, feeling and inspiration for taking the photographs.  I was able to take pictures of Annie and some of the exhibit while recording her spoken words during the press tour.  In the opening remarks she spoke of her work: “Most of you who know my work know I go in, and it’s on demand.  You have to take a picture, and you have to come out with a picture.  If you have done it long enough you sort of know how to find something in what you’re doing that makes it interesting for yourself.  This was really, you know, at my age, having done this for so long.  I know how to take care of my work, I know how to feed it , I know to feed my head, I know how to take care of it.  This was really a project to see really what would pull me in, what interests me, what means something to me.  That is what it was.”

Anne Leibovitz spoke of her now famous picture taken in Ontario, Canada at the beautiful Niagara Falls.  She describes all of the scenarios that lead to this photo being shot: “This was a trip I took with my children.  We have a place upstate.  I thought this could be a good day trip.  My eldest daughter was 8 and the twins were 4.  I was having not the best time in my life, it was not a fun period.  I was a little off balance and not happy.  I was trying to deal with issues I had, financial issues and my children, that did not bother them at all.  They saw the Falls.  They were standing at the Falls.  They were just mesmerized.  They were just looking at the falls.  What could possibly be holding them.  I walked over and stood literally in back of them and took this picture.  This is an emotional picture for me.  My children, it is not their job to pick you up and take care of you.  They show you things.  I do think of this as a photograph my children took.”  The picture of Niagara Falls is on the cover of the book Pilgrimage.

Annie Leibovitz also describes what her intentions were in taking these shots for the Pilgrimage exhibit and book: “When people look at this work and say, Oh! she is going on some diversion, she is doing something else, she doesn’t want to photograph people any more.  It is just the opposite.  This is really the note-taking on the way to taking a portrait.  This is really what I do on a daily basis.  I am photographing my note-taking and then you compile that, and that is how you create a portrait.  I used to be so surprised when people would be so surprised that I do research.  Who doesn’t do research before they go to take a portrait of someone.  This is really research, this is the note-taking.  I want to be clear about that.  My work hasn’t changed.  This is my work.  This is what I do.”

There is one thing that I noticed about Annie Liebovitz when she was at the New York Historical Society.  When looking at her from the outside she seems completely unassuming.  Looking at her you could almost underestimate her actual abilities.  She seemed down to earth and not flashy at all.  I have been around photographers who don’t even possess a fraction of her talent or success, but carry themselves with a sense of unnecessary ego.  Annie Liebovitz appears to be a creative person who has allowed herself to be completely and intensely engrossed in the art of photography.  Ego would get in the way of the creative spirit that produces masterworks. A mind engrossed and focused intensely on any subject matter is free to be objective, innovative while paying close attention to details.  I have learned that talent and skills speak for themselves, and you do not have to flaunt anything.  The Annie Leibovitz exhibit: Pilgrimage at The New York Historical Society started on November 21, 2014 and will last until February 22, 2015.  You can also check out the book: Pilgrimage.

Annie Leibovitz and the Queen of England

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