Annie and Elizabeth, Minute-by-Minute

I have seen a couple versions of video from Annie Leibovitz's Queen Elizabeth shoot. But this is the full segment, and has lots of interesting tidbits. I watched it several times and learned a lot.

Hit the jump for the full, annotated version and links.

1:19 -- Annie scouts rooms, making notes with a camera. This is common practice with pros, not so common with amateurs. I always try to have at least a point and shoot with me for this reason. (FWIW, I also talk ideas into the video recorder built into the camera.)

2:04 -- Please note here that Annie rips off photos far more elegantly than you do. Remember the Tom/Suri Cruise "in the jacket" pic? That's an (cough) "homage" pic, too...

2:10 -- ... on a horse in the state apartments? Can't blame her for trying. Always try.

2:26 -- All that display of wealth, and my eye still tries to figure out what the lights are. Sheesh.

2:32 -- Even Annie's too-cool-for-you assistants wear suits for The Queen. Annie wears sensible pants, and... wait, were those sneakers?

2:37 -- All those Queen pix: One-half hour. Shooting for four setups, too. That's either a tremendous amount of time or nothing, depending on whose perspective you are taking -- Queen Elizabeth's or Annie's.

That's one advantage I tell people about WRT to one Profoto vs. six speedlights: You can split the speedlights up to have several situations pre-set and ready to go. Not so one Profoto 7B. Of course, Annie has all the lights she wants...

2:49 -- What is it, "Take Your Daughter to Work Day?" That's chutzpah.

2:53 -- Eleven. Effing. Assistants.

3:13 -- The Queen is wearing the Full Regalia of the Ancient Order of the Garter, complete with Tiara. But the important thing is that the photog is wearing comfy shoes.

4:00 -- "Sit here like this. We'll do the rest." (I have to remember that line.)

4:05 -- Note the light: Motivated light from the window. Octa through a scrim to further diffuse it. Them there's some watt-seconds, but they'll look good.

(FYI, "motivated light" is a classic Matters of Light and Depth technique. It means to recreate the effect of a seen (or assumed) natural light source -- with more control and/or strength. This is pretty much the Golden Rule for lighting cinematography.)

4:22 -- "Lose the crown, will ya?" (In the 80's, the joke was, people just start talking off clothes as soon as Annie pulled out a camera.) Note how well she recovers after that look? Keeps pouring on the compliments... "You will look better. Less dressy."

Less dressy? (Yeah, and maybe some Chucky D's, like Annie...)

Here. We'll do a couple with the crown on. For the grandkids. Then we'll do it my way. Trust me on this one.

5:10 -- (Cut to scene of Chuck Westfall doing a touchdown dance at Canon's headquarters...)

5:32 -- I found this interesting: Even with someone like The Queen Annie is keeping her face stuck behind the camera while giving full-time direction. This is extreme professionalism head-butting right up against deference. Leibovitz is not going to miss a fleeting expression if she gets a telling glimpse or an instant of unguarded body language.

5:50 -- Still trying for the horse shot. Gotta love that. Softening her up for the next shoot...

7:30 -- So, this is how Royalty does "proofs". Note to self: If trying to impress an important subject, why not output edited proofs as 11x14's? What are they, like $5.00 each now? Nice big, white borders. For $100, you could make a heckuva good impression for next time.

7:36 -- Photoshop. Dang, I wanted that sky to be real. ("... and then we stuck the Queen's head on Scarlett Johansson's body... ")

7:46 -- "Did she like them?" (Well, she approved them, didn't she?)


Related reading:

:: Images From the Shoot ::
:: Photographs: Annie Leibovitz 1970-1990 ::
:: Ross Lowell: Matters of Light and Depth ::
:: Discussion Thread on Flickr ::


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Blogger Adam said...

Love it! Now to find those images...

December 19, 2007 1:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...that was so interesting, and it was a far cry from the parking garages of Seattle! I'm pretty sure that stress would kill me. Too bad we didn't get a better look at the photos (anyone know where we can see them)? Anyway, really enjoyed the video and I really love this site! Keep up the great work!


December 19, 2007 2:08 AM  
Blogger Vika.Valter said...

hmmm.... "lighting cinematography",
any specialized literature on this topic, like for movie makers?

December 19, 2007 2:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were Annie Leibovitz, I'd be like, "damn grandma, take yo' damn tiara off. too much bling blows out the highlights yo'!"

And she'd be like "you stupid bloody American. Have you no manners? Don't you know I'm the Queen of England?"

"I don't care who you are grandma! Do you know who I am? I'm Annie motha f**kin Leibovitz biatch. Now take yo' damn bling off before I rip it off yo' head."

And she'd say "How dare you come into my royal palace wearing sneakers like common folk. And who do you think you are talking to your majesty that way." And she'd probably sic her Welsh corgies on me.

But I'm Annie Leibovitz, and I don't need no troublesome clients like that. I got all the Scientologists wanting me to shoot them. Who needs the Queen?

December 19, 2007 2:23 AM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Great Photos! I probably would have busted up laughing just out of nerves with The Queen talking to me like that. Thats some scary stuff. Awesome!

December 19, 2007 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Jared Guess said...

I love hearing, "Your Majesty, can I just ask you to..."

December 19, 2007 2:55 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

What lens was she using?

Great post!

December 19, 2007 2:59 AM  
Anonymous H said...

Whats the point in using a point and shoot for scouting? Do as Annie does - take your dslr. Less hassle, the focal length matches...
Just which lens is she using through out the shoot?

December 19, 2007 3:36 AM  
Anonymous Bernard said...


Can you please explain what A. L.
is doing that, say, you couldn't do?
Without 11 assistants. What is so
special about her portraits of the
Queen, apart from the Photoshopped
sky? Can you honestly say that those
portraits are so good that no-one else
good have taken them? I just don't get
it and would genuinely like to know
what you think about this.

All the best,

December 19, 2007 3:42 AM  
Anonymous tezza said...

Wow, 'take your daughter to work day' really has a new meaning after that. She's incredibly rude and unprofessional to have done that, especially since the old girl doesn't like children very much. Follow that up with the tiara quip and I'm sure the queen said afterwards, 'who was that atrocious woman?'. And she'd be right. What a demonstration of how 'Annie' now acts like an important celebrity rather than someone who makes portraits for a living. Never thought much of her photography, think even less of her as a person. This only confirms the other stories I've heard about her.

December 19, 2007 3:54 AM  
Blogger J. Beckley said...


December 19, 2007 4:03 AM  
Anonymous Jon Senior said...

I actually thought that the "Did she like them?" answer was very interesting. I do wonder if they'd have been so cagey if Queeny had been gushing compliments and demanding prints for her bedroom. The PR lady very professionally (although perhaps a little hesitantly) sidestepped the question and answered a different one!

December 19, 2007 4:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, this is the second video of Annie I've seen this month that she shoots famous people for Photoshop composites. The other being the Disney campaign full Photoshop composites there too.
I really wonder if this can be considered "Leibovich" art anymore.

December 19, 2007 4:33 AM  
Blogger LKC Photography said...

Interesting about the sneakers, I guess it really shows the personality of Annie.

Pictures can be found in here:

December 19, 2007 4:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say that I would most likely wet my pants if I were shooting the Queen. Especially if the Queen glared at me like she did at Annie when she asked her to take off the tiara.

very cool video.

December 19, 2007 5:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its Leibovitz, not Liebovitz.

December 19, 2007 6:00 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

This is really a Phenomenal piece. Sure all the techie details are cool, but those can be learned - where to place the lights, how to bounce and scrim.

What is priceless about this video is the interaction.


PS: 'cmon, I'd bring my kid - how many chances do you get to meet the Queen?

December 19, 2007 6:49 AM  
Blogger Nigel Wyn said...

"Less dressy? Do you know what this is?"

It's good to be the Queen.

December 19, 2007 7:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I notice at 6:39, Annie is still shooting. That's nice to see.

A question: what lens did she shoot with? It looks awfully long, yet the quick glimpse of the proofs we see suggests to me a wide angle. Anyone know or have thoughts on this?

December 19, 2007 7:32 AM  
Anonymous pengaman said...

I would not know what to do with 11 assistants !!!
"Fetch me some coffee -pronto ! " perhaps...
Great stuff though -thanks

December 19, 2007 7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First time I have ever seen you mention "motivation" in lighting... Do a search on the flikr grp and it's also missing as a concept there...

Sometimes I think "strobist" should be titled "Photography in the land of multiple suns"

There is a lot of good technical information, without an understanding of it's aesthetic use, Which I think could be easily addressed...

nice post, thanks for sharing.

December 19, 2007 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

December 19, 2007 7:51 AM  
Blogger team met said...

I had to print out your review to have a paper copy to look at while I watched the vid. Love your comments, this is good stuff.....


December 19, 2007 8:21 AM  
Anonymous peterg22 said...

Amazing, and Annie is such a professional.
I still can't believe Annie actually asked Her Majesty to take her crown off!!!

This is one assignment (as a Brit) I'd honestly have to turn to down even if I could afford the hourly rate :-)

December 19, 2007 8:59 AM  
Blogger Phil Hunton said...

Very interesting, I love the final shots, if you hadnt known better you would swear it was just natural light.

Annie was a bit cheeky asking for the horse like theyre gonna say "err yeah no problem we will trott in over the 500 year old rugs", but you gotta try havent you.

I have to say our Queen is fantastic, shame about the rest of the family. I'd like to see Annies take on The Duke of Edinburgh, perhaps standing with and elephant gun shooting at foreigners! Or stood with one foot firmly embedded in his mouth.

Great stuff anyway.

December 19, 2007 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't Annie be wearing sneakers? The Queen is in her "work" clothes, and so is Annie. What? You expect the people working on the "Royal Limo" to wear tuxes??

December 19, 2007 10:40 AM  
Anonymous minkar said...

I was a bit disappointed in the final results...they just look too heavily photoshopped/composited. With all the gear they brought, I expected to see more of an out-of-the cam photo that was amazing...

December 19, 2007 10:42 AM  
Blogger chadw said...

I'd find it very difficult to work with anyone with an attitude like the queen's. Annie seems a bit too lax though.

I would, however, pay cash to see Chase Jarvis have a chance to photograph the queen!!!

December 19, 2007 10:44 AM  
Blogger John said...

Hey David, Thanks for finding this. It is certainly full of interesting bits--especially the command and confidence Annie possesses. The shots turned out very epic and dramatic. And your commentary has given me a case of the giggles.


December 19, 2007 10:46 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

wow, like 3 ppl asked what lens it is :D

my guess is it is the 24-70 f/2.8

but without the hood, yah so unprofessional shooting without the hood

it was a good lens choice for the 5D she was using :D

(PS thats Canon, to clear things up, thats right Canon is the camera system of the royalty LOL)

December 19, 2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Jan said...

Scott, that's a 24-70/2.8L, it becomes longer when going wider. So you're right, she was probably shooting at 24 to 28mm.

December 19, 2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few questions have been asked about what lens Annie is using. Only two Canon lenses look like that, and they are the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L and the EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS. Personally, i thought it looked more like the 2.8, but very tough to tell, and at the aperture she's probably using, not much difference between the two.

December 19, 2007 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These damn colonials! for goodness sake, it's a tiara not a crown!

December 19, 2007 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Daron said...

Annie is so disrespectul and self-righteous. To speak to HRH as she would a commoner. BUT, I think this was her best work I've seen in a long time. I am going to assume the disrespect was a conscious effort to put the queen in the mood Annie was going for.

Would love to see some large prints of these, I'm betting that confrontation made the Queen appear more aloof and distant in the photos....

December 19, 2007 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Erik said...

Big budget, 11 assistants, a week or more of scouting and set-up.... who among us has that luxury?Or is it a curse? Just one assistant steps out of line and you are front page news in a bad way. I don't think I would sleep much.
Give me a bounce fill, a couple of SB800s and 1 good and trusted assistant. Less stuff more brain, more time to run around shooting less regal subject matter around the city. And much more sleep.

December 19, 2007 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Enzyme said...

Her massaging of the natural light is really phenomenal. I'd love to see large versions of them. Thank you for the link to the small ones IKC.

FYI she was shooting with a 24-70mm f/2.8L without the hood. Wonder if it was a 1Ds MkII or MkIII.

December 19, 2007 12:20 PM  
Blogger vulkanino said...

Did Annie photoshop (delete) the crown away? I think she also could photoshop in the horse just for the fun on it.

December 19, 2007 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Annie actually touching the Queen at about 5:47 -5:49??? I thought that was a no no.

I think the "please remove your tiara" at the beginning was simply AL's technique to get a reaction from her subject and perhaps take control of the shoot. Or find out quickly how far she could go...

Excellent post - thnak you!

December 19, 2007 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DH said, "If trying to impress an important subject"

The Queen, is not a subject.

December 19, 2007 12:57 PM  
Blogger carpeicthus said...

For the "what lens" questions, she could have used pretty much anything at the f-stops she was working at, but it looks like the 24-70.

December 19, 2007 1:21 PM  
Blogger galf said...

The one lens I know looks like that is the Nikkor 28-105/3.5-4.5 D AF. Old lens, mid-of-the-line from the film days.

December 19, 2007 1:27 PM  
Blogger Mark Ryan Photo said...

I think the lens is a 24-70 2.8 L. 1. She is shotting Canon
2. The way the 24-70 is designed the lens gets longer as the FL gets wider.

December 19, 2007 2:06 PM  
Blogger Mark Ryan Photo said...

The lens looks like a 24-70 2.8 L.

1. She is shooting Canon
2. The way the lens is designed it actually gets longer when you use wider focal lengths.

December 19, 2007 2:19 PM  
Blogger Deer Old Dad said...

I'm guessing the lens is a 24-70 f2.8L. I've seen it called The Brick on the FM forums. I wish I could afford it.

I have to agree w/ the "multiple suns" comment, and wtf about "take off the crown; it will make you look less dressy." She's the queen in full regalia. Duh.

December 19, 2007 2:47 PM  
Anonymous echbremmer said...

I remember posting links to these images months back on the strobist flickr discussion; great to see the video of the shoot. Two things that I noticed:

- AL's attitude towards the queen really seems to push the limits; really borderline and as a European I recognize it as a typical American behavior. I'm fairly certain the Queen had her fair share of thoughts on it. Also maybe merely 'approving' the proofs might be related.

- I'm surprised to see Leibovitz shooting away like a Japanese tourist like that during the shoot (no tripod or clumsy hasselblad camera). Also the shots she takes outside after the shoot are really ... point-and-shoot-like (i'm wondering if those snapshots are used for the background we see in one of the proofs)

December 19, 2007 2:57 PM  
Blogger Deer Old Dad said...

I hadn't seen that the lens had been id'd before posting my last comment. Sorry guys. Please ignore.

I should add that the by getting longer as it gets wider, the 24-70 L provides an interesting feature. The lens hood is fixed to the barrel that doesn't extend, and thus effectively becomes shorter as the lens is zoomed out. I.e., the effective coverage of the lens hood tracks the focal length.

December 19, 2007 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not Annie and the Queen, but some nice set-ups from Walter Iooss and Tiger:

December 19, 2007 3:22 PM  
Blogger Andre said...

Very interesting look behind the scenes!

The pictures are technically impressive, but contextually empty, which is what defines her post-Rolling Stone work. It's pretty chilly stuff.

I must agree that Leibovitz's demeanor was surprising. She didn't act as "put together" as I supposed she would.

December 19, 2007 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It could be the 24-70 but what IF its the 28-70?! They look pretty much the same.

December 19, 2007 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

What does this have to do with Strobist? Why do we have to suck up to big names, shooting big people, using expensive gear?

I thought Strobist was about using small lights and your imagination.

11 assistants, 3 weeks preparation and a truckload of gear is everything Strobist is NOT.

December 19, 2007 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks here seem to be jumping to the conclusion that these images are heavily composited or photoshopped. I'm not saying they're not, but if you're basing the assumption on the comments of the queen's assistant who mentions her approval of the photo (something like, the sky was manipulated here), you might be giving her too much credit. She probably saw the queen outside on a sunny day when the photos were shot, and is assuming the sky must have been manipulated to look dark and brooding. As "strobists," we all should know that it is simple to overpower daylight by exposing your subject so that ambient is a stop or two below, no photoshop tricks necessary.

December 19, 2007 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it has something to do with geniuses and hairstyles. eg.
Albert Einstein, George Washington, K.I.S.S and eventually ending with great photographers of our time.

December 19, 2007 5:02 PM  
Blogger Will Foster said...

Does Annie do the Photoshop work, or do her assistants? My guess was she wasn't just taking "idea shots" at the beginning of the video, but taking supplemental pictures to add to the picture.

And at the end of the video, I think she was taking picture for the sky picture, based on the surroundings during that video, and the finished product being very similar!

December 19, 2007 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you wrote that you learned a lot seeing the video. i certainly learned more seeinf the video after reading your comments, very hepful, thank you...

December 19, 2007 6:13 PM  
Blogger Lopez Family Blog said...

Oh take off the crown!!! Looking at the pictures and the gear she was using, i think lebowitz pictures are great PS examples and the fact that she has access to some of the most exclusive people on earth helps your ego also.

December 19, 2007 7:44 PM  
Blogger Andre said...

It just hit me after seeing the results of this shoot: The thing that separates Leibovitz from other celebrity photographers is that the others almost always attempt to show the person behind the famous face, either in a contrived "awkward" moment (re: Mary Ellen Mark, Richard Avedon) or a comical exaggeration of their public likeness (re:Chris Buck), but either way, they're conning us into accepting we're seeing the "real" face of the star.

But not Leibovitz. Instead of showing us something near or hidden about the subjects, her photos reinforce their public image. I can't decide which is more or less real.

I don't know if her picture of the Queen looks like the Queen herself. All I know is that looks exactly like a picture of the Queen.

December 19, 2007 9:38 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Great shots, but I didn't notice anything unto-do with how she addressed the Queen....she acted just like she did in the Video for that magazine cover for the AIDS campaign.

It's good to see the queen acting like herself....a spoiled little brat that doesn't deserve anything she has....But I guess that all royalty.

December 19, 2007 9:47 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

If you want to see these prints big (and I mean BIG. At least 20x30, some bigger), get thee to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in DC. I went there with my wife last weekend (it was a birthday present for me).

It's just about the only exhibit here in DC that you gotta pay for, but it's a two-fer: A killer Annie Liebovitz exhibit and an Ansel Adams exhibit. (The Ansel goes back to his early work when he did soft focus "pictoralism" style of photography... very interesting.)

Do check it out if you have the chance.

I saw the Queen photos before I saw the vids. I said at the time that they were very striking images. Seeing the behind the scenes was way cool.

December 19, 2007 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would have thought that strobist readers would be the ones who dont assume the sky is fake, it's a dull day, that camera syncs at 1/500 ( i think, i dont shoot canon) and even at 250, at like say f8 that sky will be dramatic.
but it is probably illegal to ask the queen to step outside for her own pictures.

and who needs a lens hood to look prefessional shooting in such subdued light?

i dont think she was that disrespectful, maybe i'm just too western. but asking something like that isnt too outlandish

i dont think i could call someone your majesty and not laugh or feel weird.

December 19, 2007 11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha! annie was wrong. the queen is wearing her tiara in the final published photo of sitting on the bench.

December 19, 2007 11:47 PM  
Anonymous natasha said...

I'm really surprised A.L. didn't use hood. On all three episodes, scouting, shoot, and after-shoot. Any advantage of it? I can't believe she or one of her platoon simply forgot about it.

One of the proofs seems like being flipped horizontally. The window was at the Queen's left and in the picture it's on her right. are they following Scott Kelby's advise to flip the picture so it's more recognizable and pleasing for the subject?

Interesting video, thank you for posting. Always thought of A.L. as a photographic factory, and this video only confirms it. nothing wrong though with being one. Great example of persuasiveness, networking and marketing.

December 20, 2007 12:07 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Tell me thats an SB 800 out on the balcony. Upper left of the frame at 2m41s of the video.
Annie... closet Strobist... I love that thought.

December 20, 2007 12:20 AM  
Blogger Brock N Meeks said...

Annie, I can her or leave her, where's the magic? It's like Leno or Letterman being "funny" when they have a dozen or more writers doing the heavy lifting.

Can't deny the images are tremendous, PS or not, you gotta the raw material in the first place. Stunning.

What struck me most is how the Queen carried herself. My gawd, she just oozes dignity and respect. I've really never seen anything quite like it, and all from just a portrait session. Whew, that's some power there. No wonder you Brits love her so much.

December 20, 2007 12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things I don't "get" - and never will -

1) The British monarchy. Come on, it's the 21st century, not the 18th.

2) Annie Leibovitz.

A marriage made in heaven: a "celebrity" photographer and a "celebrity" monarch.

Recall the premise of "Men In Black"? -- all of these people are space aliens. It's the only logical explanation.

December 20, 2007 3:22 AM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

11 assistants can make anyone a good photographer. Annie has a good reputation, but anyone can do what she does with the money and staff. Great photos. One of those assistants is a master photoshopper.

December 20, 2007 3:25 AM  
Anonymous Jess Baumung said...

Im sure it has been mentioned, but I just read a few people asking what lens she used. It is a Canon 24-70 f2.8 L

December 20, 2007 4:28 AM  
Blogger Andy T said...

This programme caused some controversy earlier in the year when a trailer appeared to show HMQ storming out of the photo session. In fact she was muttering about being all dressed up on her way to the session.

Eleven assistants - sounds a lot, but they were shooting 4 set-ups in less than half an hour - I'd want all the help I could get.

HMQ has never publicly endorsed official portraits - as said in the programme, she merely approves.

December 20, 2007 6:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because I don't want to work right now, I analyzed the camera and lens. At 2:29 the camera is is clearly NOT either of the III, and I can't imagine her testing a new camera on the Queen. It is most likely the 1Ds II. Look at the prism housing, the extra bump before the hotshoe that is present on the IIIs is not there. Also the lens may well in fact be the 28-70. If you look at the very front of the lens, the flange at the end is pretty long, more like the 28-70 than the shorter 24-70, and given the reports of the 24 having some focus issues, would not , again, surprise me if with the Queen she was using solid, reliable, equipment. My two cents...oh and the hotshoe also appears to be black...not silver like the IIIs.

December 20, 2007 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andre- I think you make an excellent observation. These images look like renaissance paintings; they don't attempt to befriend the Queen, they empower her. And they should.

Matt- Thank you for the info! I will be in Baltimore this weekend and you can bet I will do everything I can to see those two exhibits.


December 20, 2007 10:07 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hello David, I tried to make lighting reverse engineering of the shooting cession according to what I saw watching at the video on strobist. Feel free to look at them :
Here are the drawings :
The "Extract me from this grey background!" cession :
and the "Sit here, We will do the rest" cession :

December 20, 2007 10:59 AM  
Blogger Charles C Stirk Jr said...

"I still can't believe Annie actually asked Her Majesty to take her crown off!!! " or tiara ....

With that many rocks the posibilitys for flare scare me ..

I kept laughing thinking of how many subjects I have had that were more difficult then the queen was in the video ...

December 20, 2007 12:21 PM  
Blogger jasphoto said...

chadw said - I would, however, pay cash to see Chase Jarvis have a chance to photograph the queen!!!

And he'd ask the Queen to ride a skate board in the emptied royal swimming pool.

Was AL Hired by the Royals? I wonder what the fee was? 3 weeks of prep!!!

December 20, 2007 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Ralphy said...

Ok, when you people say stuff like "Annie has a good reputation, but anyone can do what she does with the money and staff", that tells me that you have never had a high profile portrait assignment.
Would you people seriously know what to do when the editor calls you to shoot the queen? Would you know what to ask? Would you know WHO to ask? Would you have any idea what you all you would need to do to have your bases covered let alone put out a killer shoot? You might be able to light the same shot with one of your friends in your backyard, but to do this with the queen, on royal grounds, overseas, with a very limited amount of time requires a lot of experience. Its not as simple as showing up with your 11 assistants and cases of gear. The finished product does not show how difficult it was to get the shot.

December 20, 2007 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Casasola said...

I too looked at this video several times but did not dig so deep as you did David. Thank you. As for the proofs they are 16x20's not 11x14. 16x20's go for $15 each at the lab I print my stuff. I will definately start printing 11x14 proofs though. At $4 a pop I do see how much it will impress portrait clients. Then again I project my images after the shoot so clients can select their favorites.

I have a family photo shoot on Dec. 25 and will also take my 2year old daughter to work.

December 20, 2007 4:50 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Hm, I did assume this was a Canon but I don't know if it's digital. You can hear a motor drive each time she takes a shot. Isn't it a film SLR with a winder? If it's digital, what's that noise?

December 20, 2007 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Jay said...

Awesome - Annie and Elizabeth rock!

David thanks for the notes too, saw new things through your eyes.


December 20, 2007 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that Annie's demeanor towards HRH were aimed at soliciting a response and the cold stern look we see in the final images because if not she was unprofessional in her handling of this subject. On very few occasions I have shouted at or menaced a client in order to solicit a split second reaction. Miss it and you look like a fool, get it and you look like a professional. The dividing line is fine.

Did anyone else think her scouting looked like a tourist snapping random images?

All-in-all I think she knew what she was doing. So many portraits of HRH have an enigmatic feel to them - in these snaps you pretty much knew what she was thinking - "Loud, crass colonists - glad we got rid of them 240 years ago".

December 20, 2007 5:18 PM  
Blogger Photonomikon said...

Can't say I'm very impressed. These pictures are nothing that a "normal" guy like, say, David Hobby or even many of the strobists on this site couldn't accomplish and with less Photoshopping at that. I wasn't a big Annie fan before but I'm even less now. She kinda seems lacking in manners.

December 20, 2007 7:46 PM  
Blogger TheLegacyLady said...

Had to google AL - found this tidbit on Wikipedia interesting...

"In 2007, Leibovitz was asked by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to take the queen's official picture for her state visit to Virginia. This was filmed for the BBC documentary A Year with the Queen. A promotional trailer for the film showed the Queen reacting angrily to Leibovitz's suggestion ("less dressy") that she remove her crown, then a scene of the Queen walking down a corridor, telling an aide "I'm not changing anything. I've had enough dressing like this, thank you very much."[7] The BBC later apologised and admitted that the sequence of events had been misrepresented, as the Queen was in fact walking to the sitting in the second scene.[8] This led to a BBC scandal and a shake-up of ethics training."

December 21, 2007 12:46 AM  
OpenID stiksandstones said...

Funny all the comments eluding to the fact that anyone could have shot these, 11 assistants, no problem, bla bla bla
Nice to know all you strobist goons do not understand 90% of a good portrait is personal connection with the subject, assistants, staff, enviroment-not THE LIGHT or the MARK III.

December 21, 2007 1:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Royalty and Annie Leibovitz pictures: two things the world does not need more of.

December 21, 2007 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...

After seeing this vid and the disney shots a few days before I learned 3 tings about Annies work:

1. she loves octaboxes
2. made more in Photoshop then in her Cam
3. for Composing she prefers dirty grey fabric instead of green or blue screen, like it´s usually done.

Something to try.

December 21, 2007 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About at the 2.40 mark of the video - watch the guy on the left and the camera he's is handling. Looks a lot like a medium format DSLR, most likely a Hassy H2 or H3. The position of the Pocketwizard on the prismfinder seems to indicate that. It definitely ain't one of the Canon's seen elsewhere in the video. Wonder why AL decided to complicate things by using multiple camera systems?

December 23, 2007 2:10 PM  
Blogger captaindash said...

This comment is late and nobody will see it, but I'd still like to say that the queen exemplifies the type of attitude and culture that has led to so many wars and conflict. This holier-than-thou attitude is insane. Why was AL 'disrespecful'? I think she kissed the queens ass, personally. I truly, deep down don't understand why a person should be treated with any more or less respect than what they put out themselves. Sneakers? So? She wasn't in ripped jeans. I don't gush much for AL's pics, but I do think she handled herself well. Put your noses down, people. The queen is just a person. She deserves respect for being an upstanding citizen, not because she got lucky with the right mom and dad. AL's career would've gone stratospheric if she'd totally called that spoiled lady out and made her go nuts. Now that's a photo I'd love to see. I'd love to hear from anyone who can tell me WHY royalty etc deserve different treatment. Bring it.

December 25, 2007 3:23 PM  
Blogger Calvinboy24 said...

Wow. Some of these comments are... "interesting".
1) Blasting Annie Leibovitz for not having a lens hood? She's taken a helluva lot more photos and better ones than any of us have. I think she knows if a lens hood makes a difference or not.
2) Whining that "with 11 assistants, I can do a better job!". Bull crap. Those assistants make her job easier. Remember, its only a 1/2 hour photoshoot for 4 different scenes. That's damn tight. Amongst those 11 you have a scene director, lighting director, folks to position the strobes, etc. I'd like to you any of you setup that shot by yourself, adjust the lighting, take good pictures of Queen, then take it all down yourself.
3) How dare she ask the Queen to remove her Tiara! She's only asking. Its not like she's demanding. She backed off and didn't call the Queen a B**ch for not doing it. Just in asking you can see her thought process, she already knows how the image will appear in her head and knows what works and what doesn't.
4) "Those portraits are so photoshopped and blah!" Look at the photos again. They are strong images. They evoke ideas of grandeur, dignity, and power. All that from an "old lady" dressed in fancy clothes sitting on a bench. If I tried doing that I'd probably have the same thing done to me as Mel Gibson in Braveheart. It takes a special eye to produce images like that.

And any monkey can take a shot with proper lighting, but A.L. isn't just a photographer, she's a portraitist, meaning she has to design the lighting setup and everything else involved with the shoot. She's not off in her trailer, letting her assistants figure it out, to walk out and just press a button. Kinda why she gets paid a lot and has the reputation she does and none of us do.

And no more questions about the lens. It was a Canon 24-70 f/2.8 without the hood. I have one. Its a great lens. No issues with distortion at wide angle b/c its a full length body shot where the subject is small w.r.t. the whole frame. If it were a head and shoulders shot, then you'd have distorted features like big noses and a stretched face.

December 26, 2007 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Raegoul said...

I don't think asking to remove the crown was that big of a deal. Heres a funny news article about a photographer asking the queen to "show more teeth" and the uproar it caused.

December 27, 2007 4:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many of you people have actually been on a real commercial shoot? These comments sound like they're coming from 5th graders. half an hour to do 4 setups of that scale and under that kind of pressure is intense. I bitch when I have half an hour for 2 setups.

and so what if she asked her to take off the crown. that's what you do as a photographer. you suggest things to your subject. sometimes it flies sometimes it doen't. You think billy bob thornton just randomly decided to pee on the seamless for Chris Buck? Of course not. Every good portrait photographer I ever assisted was a pusher. Pushed his assistants and pushed his subjects. That how you get things done.That's how you get to the next level. Doesn't always mean he/she was an asshole. Though plenty people will tell you Annie is. Just means that they weren't afraid to take control of the situation. There are good ways and bad ways of doing it.

These images aren't that photoshopped either. maybe some retouching and desaturating and yes, the sky is placed in but you can't make a masterpiece from shit. that light is killer. and no. you couldn't do it with your sb's.

annie's crew knows what's up. look at martin schoeller's work. look at ben baker. both ex assistants to annie and both making a living photographing extremely high profile subjects. and lighting them very well.

dicking around w/ your friends and getting something cool every now and again is a lot different than consistently producing good work 5 days a week when you have to deal with all the shit that comes into play with high profile subjects, coordinating a crew that large, dealing with PR people, yada yada yada. it's called being a professional.

ps. this is photo not video.....we shoot people on white and grey when we need to cut them out of the background. lots easier and no green color bleeding onto your subject from light reflecting off the background.

that's fine if you guys don't like annie's style. it's not for everyone but, don't think because you have two sb800's and you shot your friend in a window last week that you could have pulled that shot off for a second. there is so much ignorance in those comments and it just shows how little you truly know in regards to what actually goes into a shoot of this scale and what it requires of the photographer and crew.

btw...this thing of having the crew do the lighting is not all that uncommon. Just b/c she's not there setting up the stand and builing the frame for the scrim doesn't mean she doesn't know what the fuck is going on. photographers are like directors at this level. It is about delegating production tasks to crew so that you can have a clear head and concentrate solely on the creative vision and interaction with your subject. annie doesn't need to be worrying about what fstop she should be at. she needs to be worrying about how she is going to get the queen to take that tiara off.

December 29, 2007 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty clever. Pissing HRM off will make sure the next photographers are granted a maxium shooting time of 1 minute. This way Ms Annies portraits will stay unrivaled. The fact the SHE got One-half hour!! will add to the myth.
Unfortunately that guy in Canada had the same idea.

But there´s still hope. Nobody said

"Give it to me, babe"

to Elizabeth. At least no photographer. Yet.

December 29, 2007 5:49 AM  
Blogger David said...

To Anonymous at 2:51 AM on 12-29-07:

Your comment had a lot of good info in it, which made me reluctantly decide to publish it, in spite of the pissy anonymity and profanity.

The info is valued, but the other stuff is not really necessary, and devalues your information.

Could we please tone it down a bit in the future?


December 29, 2007 6:00 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Hey, I just figured you'd be interested in this Indiana Jones Article with photos by Annie Leibovitz and its linked session video .
Quite a follow-up to this post.

January 10, 2008 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to clarify...the correct title is HM The Queen, rather than HRH or HRM. Just so you know.

I think AL did a great job considering, I reckon most photographers would have wet themselves! And QEII is well used to Americans acting inappropriately what with Ronald Regan putting his arm around her and the way GW acted on her recent visit to the US. AL was pretty inoffensive by comparison!

It seems to be the fashion to slag off AL, yet not too many people have had such a successful career, so I guess a lot of it is sour grapes...yes she has an ego, but I've not met too many pro photographers who haven't!

August 21, 2008 4:10 PM  
Blogger Dankas said...

Video not longer available...any other source, would love to see it. Tnx D

November 19, 2008 4:45 AM  
Blogger Richard Howman said...

I'd love to see this video too, but it says no longer available? Any chance it could be resurrected? Thanks.

October 22, 2014 7:51 AM  

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