Photography Legends #4 – Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz (October 2, 1949) started working as a staff photographer in 1970, with the then starting magazine Rolling Stone. In 1973 she became Chief Photographer for the magazine and held the job for over 10 years. Leibovitz worked for the magazine until 1983, and her intimate photographs of celebrities helped define the Rolling Stone look.While working for Rolling Stone, Leibovitz became more aware of the other magazines. Richard Avedon‘s portraits were an important and powerful example in her life. She learned that you can work for magazines and still do your own personal work, which for her was the most important thing.

On December 8, 1980, Leibovitz had a photo shoot with John Lennon for Rolling Stone, promising him that he would make the cover. She had initially tried to get a picture with just Lennon alone, which is what Rolling Stone wanted, but Lennon insisted that both he and Yoko Ono be on the cover. Leibovitz then tried to re-create something like the kissing scene from the Double Fantasy album cover, a picture that she loved. She had John remove his clothes and curl up next to Yoko. Leibovitz recalls, “What is interesting is she said she’d take her top off and I said, ‘Leave everything on’ — not really preconceiving the picture at all. Then he curled up next to her and it was very, very strong. You couldn’t help but feel that she was cold and he looked like he was clinging on to her. I think it was amazing to look at the first Polaroid and they were both very excited. John said, ‘You’ve captured our relationship exactly. Promise me it’ll be on the cover.’ I looked him in the eye and we shook on it.” Leibovitz was the last person to professionally photograph Lennon—he was shot and killed five hours later.

In February 2009, Leibovitz borrowed $15.5 million, having experienced financial challenges in the recent years. She put up as collateral, not only several houses, but the rights to all of her photographs.

Yoko Ono & John Lennon

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Photography Legends #3 – Erwin Olaf

Born in Hilversum in the Netherlands in 1959, Erwin Olaf lives and works in Amsterdam since the early 80’s. Mixing photojournalism with studio photography, Olaf emerged in the international art scene in 1988 when his series ‘Chessmen’ was awarded the first prize in the Young European Photographer competition. Since then Olaf has continued to explore issues of gender, sensuality, humor, despair and grace in each successive series.

Printing his early work in documentary style black-and-white, he first gradually introduced color and then digital manipulation. There is great contrast between each series. In his four most recent series Rain, Hope, Grief and Fall, Erwin Olaf returns to classic imagery with minimal computer retouching.

Video and film offer new possibilities to explore. His first film Tadzio (1991, co-directed with painter F. Franciscus) was soon followed by comic videos for children’s television, short documentaries, music clips and commissions by the Dutch National Ballet. Recently Olaf has created autonomous video works like Separation, Rain and Grief, starring models who also appear in the accompanying photo series. In the films they play a different character, as though his moving images provide a parallel history to his color photographs. These short films have been selected for film festivals all over the world.

Over the years many of Olaf’s works – from his unabashed nude portraiture and intense symbolism to the unflinching gaze in his blood-drenched images of staged violence – have provoked controversy. Not surprisingly, this ability to attract attention has seen his work embraced by the advertising world, resulting in commercials for Lavazza, BMW, Microsoft and Nintendo among many others. Lately Erwin is frequently shooting in commission for magazines such as The New York Times Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, Elle and Citizen K.

Dutch National Soccer Team "New Warriors"

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Photography Legends #2 – Steve Bloom

(www.stevebloomphoto.com)

A writer and a photographic artist who specialises in evocative images of the living world. Born in South Africa in 1953, he first used the camera to document life in South Africa during the apartheid years. He moved to England in 1977 and co-founded one of London’s leading photographic special effects companies. In the early nineties, during a safari holiday, he began photographing animals, and within a short time he had swapped his established city career for the precarious life of an international travelling photographer. Steve Bloom’s concern for the environment is strongly evident in his wildlife images. He strives to capture the animal’s spirit, and blur the lines separating different species.

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Photography Legends #1 Ansel Adams

A selection of work from Photographers – worth taking a look at ! The first chapter of my legends-post without a doubt goes to Ansel Adams.

(www.anseladams.com)
Not only did his vision help to preserve many acres of wildlife and scenic areas – he also was drawn to the beauty of the earth and was determined to share these beautiful places with everyone. Thanks to his endless patience and skills, we can still view these today. Yosemite NP was a very big inspirational point for Adams. He spent a lot of his time during different seasons in Yosemite capturing all the stunning landscapes. His dramatic black and white pictures of the park, show it barely has changed since then. A project he worked very hard on. The was a visionairy, a conservationist and a teacher. One of my favorite pictures is the first one – The Golden Gate, before the Bridge. A classic look into the past.

The Golden Gate – Before the Bridge. 1932

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