GPP 2016: Dubai, Feb 5th-12th Schedule is up!

Annie-Tated: Keith Richards for Louis Vuitton

While we are on the subject of the Photek Softlighter, I thought it fitting to run a BTS video of Annie Leibovitz shooting Keith Richards in a hotel room for Louis Vuitton with that same light mod.

She uses the Softlighter a lot—along with a voice-activated light stand who damn-well better know what she is thinking before she says is out loud. (I'd put money on that last part.)

Fully annotated video—and the final photo—after the jump.

First 20 secs: Propping the set. Really wish we had more of this.

0:34 Richards to Annie: "Where do you want it, baby?" (These two go way back -- Annie toured with The Stones in '81 and produced an amazing set of photos.)

0:39 She doesn't tell him how to sit, she shows him how and where to sit. Only has so much time -- and attention span -- to work with. I'll give her this: Every time I watch her, she is remarkably efficient. With respect to subjects' time, at least. Money, not so much.

0:42 "Just show me where to park the carcass." True fact: Jim Fixx, author of The classic The Complete Book of Running, died at age 52 of a heart attack following his daily run. Keith Richards, 66 as of this writing and with way heavier mileage, is still kicking.

0:50 Keith is already running the shoot, or so he probably thinks. Move and pose. Move and pose.

1:12 Of course, every one of those move and pose shots will look contrived. Time for a change-up -- change the venue. "I'm just gonna try one more thing…"

1:20 Now move him back to where you really want him.

1:47 Stroke the ego: "This is so great. This is so great. This is so beautiful…"

2:00 Maybe we could change one little thing. "You don't have to pose … when you are playing the guitar, when you are doing that … it's the best stuff." Indeed.

2:20 And out. Kisses all around. Applause -- always applause. Just like on your shoots, right? Dollars to donuts there is an Assistant in Charge of Starting the Applause. Without fail.

2:25 Rembrant is thus conjugated into an adjective. Style points to Keith.

2:29 Pause it here. Here is a pic with no post. Cell phone video of a monitor, sure. But still, you can see pretty much what is done in camera and what is done afterwards.

The photo is built on the light from the Softlighter and the ambient room lamps. Nothing else. Would you have had the nerve to light a Louis Vuitton shoot of Keith Richards using only a sub-$100 brolly box? I wouldn't.

(© Louis Vuitton / Annie Leibovitz. Click the pic for bigger version.)

And yes, that light is walking itself around intuitively. The post production will always pull much more out of the photo. She always seems to have a celebrity in front of her lens. And then there is the whole gazillion assistants thing.

But the truth is that Annie Leibovitz creates her own weather. She is great with her subjects. She is great at the bedside manner, the broaching of an idea, the tenacity to stick with it and the stones (so to speak) to do whatever it takes to make the picture inside of her head.

I love her photos, even if they really are giant collaborations. And I love being a fly on the wall in these YouTube'd shoots. More, please.

She has been a visual compass point of mine for 20 years, and I have probably learned more over time from studying her than from anyone else.

Damn shame about the money management thing. Her brain has just never been wired to deal with money.

But I still love her photos.

(Tweet Annie and Keith)


Brand new to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Connect w/Strobist readers via: Words | Photos
Got a question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist