It’s a small gesture, but the kind of tiny, yet telling detail that Annie Leibovitz notices. It’s at the heart of her work, a career-long endeavor to convey a glint of someone’s essence in a single photograph.
Describing a portrait she recently shot of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg for her “Women: New Portraits” exhibition, on view in San Francisco, Leibovitz says, “Sheryl came right into her office and sat down just like that, with her leg folded under her leather skirt. She looked confident, just a little sexy, and ready. Like, ‘Let’s do this.’”
Outside the venue at San Francisco’s Presidio, the view is gorgeous, with the bay and Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
Inside a warehouse, jumbotrons flash photos for a rapt audience. Printed photos cover a wall, but the changing images on the jumbotrons held my attention.
Annie Leibovitz photographed celebrities for publications like the Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. The subjects know their photo will be seen by many, so these photos will help form a legacy for how they want to be remembered.
A brochure asks probing questions of the people seeing the exhibit. My takeaway is that Leibovitz and her subjects went through a careful process to prepare for the photo session and a photo is a communication mechanism that portrays our image and helps shape our legacy.
We can do much the same for ourselves. When you’re photographed,
- What scene portrays your interests and who you are?
- Who are the important people in your life?
- Do you look into the camera or away?
- Do you smile or look wistful?
- What do you wear?
- How do you want you family and friends to remember you?
I really liked the Leibovitz exhibit, which is starting a world tour. On Wednesday morning, there was no wait for this free exhibit.