Review of MasterClass: Annie Leibovitz

In case you missed their marketing buzz, has recently offered an online enrichment course called Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography. I saw the class ads in my newsfeed on facebook and caved in after a few days of thinking about it.

The course offers 14 mini lessons with a 41 page .pdf workbook that accompanies the online pro-shot video content. Each lesson has a different topic and the video runtime is 2 hours, 54 minutes of Annie speaking about her work, talking shop, or having discussions with her real-life class at the San Francisco Art Institute.

I’ve been a fan of Annie’s photowork for many years and have seen the movie Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens a few times over the years. This one seems like a very natural progression from that documentary. I didn’t sign up for this class expecting to learn the advanced settings of PocketWizard MultiMAX’s or how to rig a C-Stand grip arm outdoors on a windy day. Instead, it was a leisurely journey listening to one professional artist’s concepts, vision, and hearing a little bit about some of her professional influences. I would have loved to have seen more of her studio/office, but that’s about the only thing that I felt was missing from the lessons-and that’s mostly just my curiosity.

There are some suggested assignments, but they weren’t really my thing. There is a web forum for class discussion, but as you can imagine it ends up mostly being linkfarm for photographers trying to get their work out there… and I can’t really blame them. There is also a Q&A scheduled with Annie in a week or so but I can’t think of anything worthy to ask her about her work.

Edited to add: they recently added another lesson to the course which brings the total to 15 videos. The newest addition is a behind the scenes look at a rather elaborate shoot she did with a large crew for Vogue. I think this new episode may be the strongest video in the series. You really get a sense of how her shoots flow and I’d just add that she is very assertive with instructions on the set.

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