Last week we had the opportunity to watch two interesting documentaries about Annie Leibovitz and James Natchwey. Both of them are famous American photographers from whom I enriched my perspective as a trainee photographer.
If I asked random people to name few famous artists (such as Michael Jackson, John Lennon, Whoopi Goldberg, etc.), you can be sure that Annie Leibovitz has photographed them. I found fascinating the fact that she usually develops simple ideas into what she became famous for: wild lit, stage and provocative portraits of celebrities. On the other hand , James Natchwey, also uses simple ideas, even though he is a war photographer. He then develops these ideas into photographic projects, many of which are known all over the world.
Both Leibovitz and Natchwey gained their photographic experience by travelling in many parts of the world; Leibovitz travelled to Japan with her mother the summer after her sophomore year at San Francisco Art Institute. She discovered her interest in photography here in Japan. On the other hand, James Natchwey took pictures in many countries and regions where conflict arose: Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, South Africa, and Latin America, and the Middle East. I found it very interesting that after taking millions of photographs, Leibovitz and Natchwey finally decided upon their fields or specialty (fashion and war photography, respectively).
I admire the fact that both of them have a special connection with the subject they pictures. For example, in 1980 when Leibovitz photographed for Rolling Stone she asked John Lennon and Yoko Ono to pose nude together. Lennon was not happy with her first ideas and Leibovitz didn’t insist about it. She always respected what her subjects would like to pose. On the other hand, Natchwey is always in the middle of the conflict. After he familiarizes with the subjects of his portrait, he usually takes close-up pictures of them.
I am very happy that I had the opportunity to watch these documentaries in the class which allowed me to develop my skills in photography and visual anthropology. Even though these photographers specialize in different areas, they are very similar and I learned a lot about the techniques and approaches in both portrait-fashion and war photography.