Friday, 16 May 2008

Life Through a Lens

The other night I went to see Life Through a Lens, a documentary about the photographer Annie Liebowitz. For those of you not familiar with her work, she hit the headlines last year when the Queen apparently snapped at her during a photo shoot. This was subsequently denied. Name a celebrity and she's probably taken a picture of them, including the naked and pregnant Demi Moore. She took that famous picture of a naked John Lennon wrapped round Yoko Ono, little knowing that five hours later he would be dead.

Annie Liebowitz first started taking pictures of the Rolling Stones for Rolling Stone magazine in the early 1970s. She toured with them and took some incredible pictures. She has an ability to capture a moment that reveals something about the person or persons, that makes you think, or laugh, or cry. She has worked incredibly hard all her life, worked for Tina Brown at Vanity Fair, then at Vogue, specialising in celebrity pictures.

Following her relationship with the writer Susan Sontag, she was inspired to do better, and went to Sarajevo where she took stark pictures of war and the damages that can be inflicted on its victims. Her pictures didn’t skirt the truth, but looked it straight in the eye, unflinchingly.

When Susan Sontag died she similarly took pictures that were heartbreaking in their portrayal of death. Once again she put her work first, perhaps gaining solace from it.

She now has children and said that they made her world round where previously it had been flat. She obviously adores these children and somehow manages to be a hands-on mum and keep her career going at the same time.

This documentary is fascinating and shows just how hard anyone has to work in order to succeed. Annie Liebowitz has sensitivity, is compassionate and caring, loving and has a great sense of fun. She is also incredibly professional, a very hard taskmaster and produces incredible results.

What struck me, as a writer, is how similar the two arts are. In photography, as in writing, a good picture or scene is all about capturing the moment. It’s about the story behind the story. It’s about humour and empathy and the rawness of truth.

If this documentary comes to anywhere near you, go and see it. She is a true inspiration.

19 comments:

Rebecca Taunton said...

You've definately sold me FP. I'll be waiting to see if this comes out on DVD.
Thank you very much for the drinks last night, it was great to meet S. RT

Flowerpot said...

Yes you'd really enjoy it RT - I do hope it comes out on DVD - I'll be first in line! Lovely to see u both last night.

Miss Understood said...

There is no doubt whatsoever that she is a very talented photographer. However I have to admit that some of her work is questionable and has caused quite a stir...recently she took photographs of a 15 year old girl which some say crossed the line between art and pornography. I'd love to see the documentary. Does she feel the need to justify any of her work during the film?

Flowerpot said...

Yes I saw that MissU and the documentary was made well before that particular shot. NO she didnt justify any of her work - I suppose she aims to create a stir. Her work is always different and that usually means ruffling a few feathers. If ti comes to Exeter - which I'm sure it will - do go and see it.

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

She really is an amazing woman with an amazing talent. I shall make a point of seeing this. Thanks FP

Flowerpot said...

AOJ - I hope you enjoy it!

Akelamalu said...

That was interesting Flowerpot, she's obviously very talented.

Maggie May said...

That's something for me to look out for then!

Noortje said...

I will see it as soon as it gets here. I have been a fan of hers since I lived in the States. Great photographer, great human being.

Flowerpot said...

Ak - talented isnt the word for her. Awesome I think!

Flowerpot said...

Maggie - yes do look out for it. Something very different.

Nortje - I'm glad to find another fan!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It sounds intriguing. Thanks for the recommendation.

CJ xx

wordtryst said...

Just popped by to remind you that author/literary agent/writing coach Orna Ross will be stopping by my blog today and will answer (on Monday) any questions left in the comment trail. You're welcome to drop in!

Flowerpot said...

Crystal - yes she certainly is intriguing!

wordtryst - thanks for that I will stop by tomorrow.

TOM FOOLERY said...

"What struck me, as a writer, is how similar the two arts are. In photography, as in writing, a good picture or scene is all about capturing the moment. It’s about the story behind the story. It’s about humour and empathy and the rawness of truth".

Flowerpot,thanks for this post so very true.

I'm often lost for words, but I always find photography a powerful an equal tool for communicating TFX.

Flowerpot said...

TF - glad to find someone who thinks as I do too!

Ellee Seymour said...

Absolutely will do, I believe she is really talented too.

Philipa said...

Sounds very interesting, thanks for the tip :-)

Flowerpot said...

ellee - she certainly is and its a fascinating film,

Phil - enjoy!