08 September 2011

Leibovitz-Kardashian, Incorporated?

So, is this news really so depressing? It surely is not terribly surprising? The wages of profligacy and poor judgement for Annie.

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Blogger adam hujhes said...

If getting paid massive amounts of money to take photos of celebrities (regardless of their particular popularity) are 'the wages of profligacy and poor judgement,' put me on the next train to Vegas.

Shooting the Sears catalogue is not below anyone, artist or otherwise. It's a job. I don't see how shooting the cover of Rolling Stone is any different - the message is always to consume.

10 September, 2011 08:36  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Adam - Thanks for the reply. Here is my view: Leibovitz has more talent than the vast majority of photographers. She uses that taken in mostly questionable ways a lot of the time. (I've posted on her other recent endeavors and travails here a bunch of times.) But I'm willing to bet shooting the truly vapid Kardashians for the Sears catalog is not a gig even she would've taken just a few years back. And the financial pressures she is addressing seem to be purely of her own making. Why is someone with her work history compelled to take this sort of job? Why is she lending credibility to the vacuous? Are there things you would not do for money? (I am not saying that to be a jerk, but that is the bottom line question here. For some photographers the answer appears to be "no.")

10 September, 2011 09:44  
Blogger adam hujhes said...

Thanks for the response. I may be writing a little defensively - a good friend works as an artist's assistant for Leibovitz. But I am still not sure, in this case, that the photographer's name lends a problematic kind of credibility to the images. Unless Sears specifically advertises that fact on the cover on their catalog, who would know it was her?

I also wanted to suggest that most photography has commercial applications, regardless of the photographer's personal intent. While Leibovitz has obviously produced better/more important work in the past, I would be careful not to suggest that commercial advertising for Sears is, in some way, a 'lesser' kind of work than shooting magazine covers. It's all about selling - these images are at least more honest about it (depressing as they may be).

10 September, 2011 13:09  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Adam ~ Obviously people need to make a living - even photographers (actual and aspiring) have to eat & pay rent! So your friend will likely both make a living working for Leibovitz and learn a ton (there are all sorts of lessons to learn!).

That said, a couple things are important here. In the world of fashion/celeb photography doing catalogs is NOT the same as doing, say, Vogue or Rolling Stone - ask any model about that. Why should we think it is different for photographers? So Leibovitz is not working at the pinnacle here. Second, think of photographers as talented and accomplished as she - Nachtwaey, Salgado, etc. - even if we put aside genre differences, those folks have positions that allow them more or less total independence. (For a more direct comparison consider Richard Avedon.) And here is Leibovitz doing sessions with the talentless Kardashian clan - these women have virtually nothing to recommend them, just a rich daddy. I'd say this directly contributes to the "culture of celebrity" that Leibovitz's late "companion" Susan Sontag rightly derides mercilessly and it does so in more or less shameless ways. Is there no shoot she will decline?

10 September, 2011 17:10  

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