I attended an Annie Leibovitz photography exhibition a few weeks back. I have always admired her photographs, which is why when I heard about this event (and the fact that it was free), I was excited. I went ahead and reserved slots for me and my friends, none of whom had heard of her. During the week leading up to the event, I told anyone who would listen about the exhibition . To my surprise, none of the peopleI spoke to knew who she was and as a result my excitement was always met with a blank stare. But I didn’t care. I was excited.
So we went to the exhibition . It was held in a garage. Within 30 seconds of entering the garage, I was disappointed.
I had gone there expecting a personal experience, expecting that the photographs would be placed individually, like in a art gallery, so that I could spend time on each picture, admiring , observing, learning.
Instead the arrangement consisted of two huge display panels running a slideshow of the photographs. There were chairs placed for people to sit and watch as the pictures flashed by.
I was put off and I wanted to leave.
Since we had came all the way, we decided to stay and watch.
After I made peace with my initial disappointment, I was able to enjoy the photographs on display. They were beautiful, as expected. It was a women’s portrait exhibition and the photographs were of powerful, famous women shot mostly in monochrome. At first glance the photos seemed obvious, simple and easy to capture. Most of the photos were set in environments that were typical to subject/model’s profession. One would think, anyone can do this. Why are so many people here when anybody with a good camera can capture this?
But the more you observe and think about it, you begin to realize that it is not as simple. Her ability to capture the simplest and most obvious moments and expressions, and make it seems so easy is what makes her photography so special. Everyone poses in front of a camera. We want to look our best, show our good side, hide our faults and smile. Photographers need a lot of patience (and talent) to take a photo, and in that photo, capture the essence of that moment.
One can attempt to take similar photographs, but will you able to capture the real person in the photographs or will you be capturing another pose?