The Sad Strange Financial Predicament Of Annie Leibovitz

- - Photographers

NY Magazine has a well reported story by Andrew Goldman on the financial predicament Annie Leibovitz finds herself in today. There’s some awesome quotes in the story referencing her legendary temper and insecure perfectionism but the financial meltdown is simply astounding to read about.

No matter what you think of Annie’s pictures today she’s clearly a very talented photographer, has long been a pioneer in this industry and deserves some level of respect from everyone. But, of course these quotes are too juicy not to republish:

[...]Her bloated work expenses were a chronic concern. Anthony Accardi, Leibovitz’s onetime printer, recalls that jobs were often rushed, like the time he had to show up to a lab at 3 a.m. to pick up film of Bill Clinton and have work prints ready by 7 a.m., a job so hurried that he billed Condé Nast three times his regular rate. Accardi was stunned by the number of work prints Leibovitz would order, and apparently so was Condé Nast. After Accardi printed 300 oversize work prints of a Roseanne Barr shoot and billed Vanity Fair some $15,000, he received a letter from Graydon Carter himself, informing him that after this job, he’d be paid for no more than 50 such prints. “Like I was going to tell Annie that?” Accardi says with a laugh. “She would’ve boxed my ears.”

Eccles says Leibovitz could be downright tyrannical. “I once narrowly escaped being hit by a pair of shoes,” he says. “To this day, I’ve never been as nervous photographing a subject as I have assisting her. And that includes the several times I’ve been sent to the White House.” Leibovitz, Eccles says, once slammed her fists on a table, swearing she was going to kill him after a lighting test hadn’t gone well. “Go ahead, hit me,” Eccles said. He was by then so accustomed to the behavior, he says, that he didn’t flinch. “You’re not afraid of me,” Leibovitz lamented, skulking off. “It’s not fun anymore.” After her outbursts, Eccles says, Leibovitz would almost always call and apologize. Still, he left on good terms. “I adore Annie,” he says. “I’ll go to the mat for her as the greatest photographer there ever was in any genre.”

[...]In 2007, Leibovitz agreed to take Tina Brown’s portrait for her Princess Diana biography. “I thought she would just take a snap at my home,” Brown says. Leibovitz insisted that the shoot be on the beach near Brown’s summer home in Quogue, even though it was March and freezing. Leibovitz showed up in a van with a stylist and assistant. A second car stuffed full of clothes soon arrived. A wind machine would eventually be engaged. This was all on Leibovitz’s dime; she refused to charge Brown a cent. Unsatisfied with the day’s work, Leibovitz suggested that they try again the next day. “We’re through!” Brown told her, appreciative but worn out. “She’s a massive perfectionist,” Brown says, “and absolutely doesn’t care about the impact on her own bottom line.”

[...]Leibovitz has to come up with $24 million, plus interest, by this September. Under the terms of the agreement, says a person familiar with the loan, Art Capital could be entitled to up to 22.5 percent of all the proceeds from the sale of any of Leibovitz’s work—even for two years after she’s paid off the loan. And that percentage could increase to close to 50 percent if she were to default.

Read the entire story on the NYMag website (here).

There Are 50 Comments On This Article.

  1. Truly sad, shocking unbelievable – but not unique. Even non-famed hyper-talented non-tyrants are finding this economy and the state of industry paralyzing and lifestyle changing. Annie is both a national treasure and a unique documentarian of our times and culture, she has left an undeniable impression in the history of photography but in today’s market is she, and in turn… are all of us, service providers or artists?

  2. I read this story earlier this week with a sense sadness and yet with a very smug look on my face, after having personally dealt with her as a freelance assistant many, many years ago. Originally we met when she interviewed me for her first assistant job she had open. It became apparent very quickly to both of us, that I didn’t have the “whipping boy” mentality or subservient personality to be her full time assistant. Later, I was hired by her to assist on a cover shoot of Yoko Ono for RS. I was still making calls 6 months later to get paid. To take advantage of vastly under paid assistants and production people who make you look great is simply inexcusable to me and I always have kept this particular bad experience in mind throughout my career, vowing to try to never screw over the people who help me.

    I do have great respect for her body of work and had hoped that so many years later she would have seen the light and adjusted her attitude. Apparently, some of us learn basic life lessons quicker than others…

  3. These stories are nothing new, those of us that have worked with her past assistants have been hearing these stories for years. What is not reported is how she has broken some truly beautiful people to the point of drug adiction and suicide. Those stories are fron the mid-late 90′s.
    The of course teh stories of throwing cameras and lenses at assistants, the verbal abuse, the threats.
    Her abuse in legendary, and she well deserves all that is coming back to her now.
    And no she is not a great photographer.
    She hires great peopel that can save her nasty bloated ass.

  4. Unfortunate for her, the situation she is in, but one word seems to come to mind – “KARMA” She is very talented, but I have never heard a story where anyone had anything nice to say about her other than she was talented. And as far as her money and spending, live by the sword, die by the sword. I am sure there is more to the story than we will ever know, but you can’t be “just a talented artist” – reality and business will bite you in the ass.

  5. Let’s face it, some of the best artists have been mad as hatters. Being blessed with tremendous artistic talent AND an outstanding business sense is a truly rare combination.

    Two general observations:

    1. Leibovitz may, in part (I say “in part” because I think her current financial situation is more complicated than a few juicy examples), be a victim of a changing marketplace. The proliferation of talented photographers has weakened the market for for the “rock star” photographers. The talent pool is deep enough that it’s often easier, and cheaper, to book other names. Also, the declining economy has eliminated most of the big-budget photo shoots. And the shift to a more corporate, profit-centric mentality at many publications has lowered the tolerance level for temperamental artists.

    2. Being a celebrity has its drawbacks. I suspect Leibovitz found herself under increasing pressure for each photo shoot to be better, more creative, more brilliant than the last shoot. That has to be hard on the photographer, as well as the client. Compare that to the life of mere mortal photographers — you do a shoot, the client is happy, you get paid, you move on. No one is analyzing whether your last gig is better/worse than previous work. Being at the top of the pyramid is probably a more isolated position than most people would think. I suspect Leibovitz has probably been damaged by her celebrity status.

    Lastly, I loved the body language on the Miley Cyrus question.

    Tom

    • Anonymous Coward

      @Tom,

      And at some point, is the cost worth it?

      I’m not talking about amateurs and hobbyists undercutting the general market.

      General market photographers generally do ‘undercut’ the rockstars.

      What good is paying for the name when it’s not winning you any favors?

      I haven’t seen a Leibovitz or Mark photo in years that I’ve gotten all worked up about.

      • @Anonymous Coward,

        That was my point.

        Being a celebrity can make you unapproachable — especially if you are a celebrity with a reputation for being difficult to work with and unable to stay within a budget. So you wind up with editors and ADs saying “find me an Annie Leibovitz type.” And there is a rich pool of talent (working pros, not amateurs) who can fill the void.

        >>I haven’t seen a Leibovitz or Mark photo in years that I’ve gotten all worked up about.

        That’s a problem too. When everyone is watching you, the expectations can be very high. If you don’t dramatically exceed the quality of your last engagement, everyone will say you failed. Hence each gig becomes exponentially more difficult to achieve that “wow” factor. That puts tremendous pressure on the artist and it can be a disincentive from a client perspective too. Do you want to spend a lot of money to hire Annie Leibovitz to do a shoot and all the buzz is about how the shoot wasn’t as brilliant as her past work?

        For non-celebrity photographers you show up on time, do good work and refrain from being an asshole and everyone goes away happy.

        Tom

  6. I’m amazed that people who abuse others are often so looked up to.

    she hasn’t saved lives
    she hasn’t pioneered a drug that helps people
    she isn’t a nobel peace prize winner
    she’s just a fucking photographer who has talent, no doubt, but sucks at basic business.

    Move on

    • Anonymous Coward

      @Reality,

      Yeah, talented photog (at least for much of her career).

      But I really hope that I am known for my work and being a great human being.

      I would be mortified if so many people who had worked around and with me routinely talked about what an ass they thought I was.

      This is another brick in the shrine of Annie.

      • @Anonymous Coward,

        In life we are often faced with choices between self, family, work, money, material goods…

        I’ve always believed it was important to consider “Who will go to my funeral?” My money will not… my house will not… and if you step on enough people to get that fame, or money or what not… nobody is going to go to your funeral.

  7. While no doubt she bears the responsibility for getting herself into this mess –and it is never right to abuse assistants –a lot of the tone of people’s responses to her situations reminds me of the chorus of Don Henley’s song “Dirty Laundry”:

    “Kick em when they’re up
    Kick em when they’re down
    Kick em when they’re stiff
    Kick em all around

    Dirty little secrets
    Dirty little lies
    We got our dirty little fingers in everybodys pie
    We love to cut you down to size
    We love dirty laundry”

  8. scott Rex Ely

    I think a couple of quotes from Rollo May are in order here:

    “Creative people… are distinguished by the fact that they can live with anxiety, even though a high price may be paid in terms of insecurity, sensitivity, and defenselessness for the gift of ‘divine madness.’ (Rollo May)

    “Artists love to immerse themselves in chaos in order to put it into form, just as God created form out of chaos in Genesis. Forever unsatisfied with the mundane, the apathetic, the conventional, they always push on to newer worlds.” (Rollo May)

    “Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem.” (Rollo May)

  9. If only my balls were half as big as Annie’s, I coulda been a contender! And I mean that as a compliment… I think.

    The real tragedy as this disaster unfurls will be all the “little” people who take a big shot to the groin ($$) as the ship sinks. The timing couldn’t be worse.

    As for Annie, well she seems to be a victim of herself. Bet she comes out OK though.

  10. Rollo May’s insights into creativity are great but there are other photographers who are at least as gifted, as talented, as perfectionist, and as driven as A.L. is but don’t abuse people, pay their bills, and figure out how to live within their means.
    I find it really hard to get worked up about the jam she is in. She might not have as big a life she has been leading but given her work ethic, and her talent;

    – she” ll always have work.

    – she’ll always have a roof over her head.

    – and she’ll be able to send her kids to good schools.

    • @Ellis Vener, There may be other photographers who have work just as good maybe even better, but have you ever heard the saying “Good girls don’t make history?” She has made this reputation for herself that makes her known. People know the name and associate great work with it. I’m not saying it’s right, but you have to do some crazy stuff just to make yourself known. I also agree with you about her financial situation, she got herself into that mess and has to deal with it now.

  11. Von R Buzard

    Personally I am not a fan
    I’ve seen her working and the scale of some of her productions it’s hard to call the final photos as being “Her” work. The make-up artist, fashion stylist, art directors do the actual work.

    The budgets for her shoots are legendary

    She came to be with Rolling Stone magazine (in an article I read they said they used her because she was the only one they could afford). Since she was getting to photograph those who were one their way to the top, she got the rep that you weren’t anyone till she photographed you (Hillary Clinton used those exact words in an interview)

    She’s more of a lucky charm then a photographer

    I’ve seen a LOT of her work and I cannot say I have seen anything that a 100 other photographers wouldn’t have gotten the same image if they were in her shoes. In most cases probably something better

    You want to see GREAT work, check out Steichen, Stieglitz, Newton, Avedon, Bresson, etc…

    • The Producer

      @Von R Buzard,

      “The make-up artist, fashion stylist, art directors do the actual work.”

      I’m always amused when people say things like this. Honestly, imagine a shoot where a stylist, a makeup artist, a hair stylist, and an art director all came to set with their own agendas doing whatever it is they wanted without consulting with the photographer. Pure comedy!

      • Von R Buzard

        @The Producer, I never said they do their own agenda. But from what I know about her work, they do the work. Any concepts are pre approved and most of the time are given and not asked for

        • Debra Weiss

          @Von R Buzard,

          “Any concepts are pre approved and most of the time are given and not asked for”

          And that is all it is – a concept. It is the photographer that gives that concept a life. It is the very reason that ideas cannot be copyrighted – only the expression of the idea.

          • Von R Buzard

            @Debra Weiss, right, but what I know of A.L.’s work is she isn’t even coming up with the concept. She has art director’s and creative directors doing all that. And my PERSONAL opinion is that the few times she doesn’t her work is nonsense. She is management. Ideas are given to her, she approves them, her crew sets everything up and she pushes the button.

            I see nothing original in her work. Post a link to something she did that was original and awe inspiring. Something that makes me say, WOW, she is good

            • @Von R Buzard,

              One look at her body of work will show a consistency of approach and vision that makes it obvious she’s shooting HER concept in HER way and not someone else’s. The stories about her personality are enough to back this up. I mean, we’ve all seen the video where she ask the QUEEN to take off her tiara. Call it balls, ego, hubris, insolence, or whatever, but there are very few other photographers who would go there with the queen.

              And anyone who’s done a produced commercial shoot (much less one involving celebrities, politicians, etc.) knows that it’s always a collaboration – this is why we all hire stylists, hair, makeup, producers, etc. – to add to the collaboration (under the overall direction of the photographer). There’s simply too much money on the line (especially with Annie’s productions) to have anything go wrong or to not come back with the shot.

              Do you think Avedon went out all on his own and found that hairless beekeeper, arranged the bees just so while managing to interact with the guy and wrangle his 8×10 at the same time only to go home and process and print the images himself?

              No of course not. He had a production staff acting as his infrastructure who cast the guy, produced the shoot, helped the guy wrangle the bees, and a production crew to help him shoot the image, but the image was 100% his concept, approach, and vision. There’s documentation to back this up – concept drawings, printer’s instructions, etc. which show the control he exercised over his images. I’m sure Annie is just as controlling in her approach (unless all the stories about her micromanagement, abuse, obsessiveness to detail, etc are all untrue).

            • Debra Weiss

              @Von R Buzard,

              ” She has art director’s and creative directors doing all that. ”

              Uh – because that’s their job. That’s how it works in advertising. And I’m sure your work is much better, right? And more original?

            • @Von R Buzard,

              Actually she does ( or used to do) a lot of the conceptualizing and idea makign for her photos, I know she did some of this for her American Express work and she used to do a lot of that for her editorial work.

  12. I am continually amazed at the number of people that are under the impression that the famous photographers are doing all of their own work, and have such amazing talents.

    “I moved to NYC to work with the best photographers in the world. What I found was that I was working with the best photo assistants in the world…”
    from the eBook – ‘How to be a Photo Assistant.’

    I like so many others ended up working for famous and infamous photographers that did not know lighting, did not know their cameras or equipment, and for the most part were no better than glorified art directors with industry contacts; that could not light a match much less their own sets.

    Almost everyday we would be handed a tear sheet of someone else’s work and told: “make it look like this.” “light it like this.”
    Or my favorite;”.. I want that hair, that make up, that lighting with that camera framing.”
    I can certainly understand photographers that wish to pay homage to a photographer that they like. But being an outright copyist is another thing all together.

    So when I hear people say that photographer “XYZ” has such amazing lighting I have to walk away because I know who he had working on set that day and did the lighting.
    One of the last photographers I worked with years ago, called me up 1 night begging me to work on his 1st big fashion job.
    “Oh, I need your help” “Please come over right now and help me produce this job, I don’t know what I’m doing.” fine he was willing to pay me. I want over and he was freaking out. I pulled out a bunch of Polaroid’s and images and said match up an image with each shot you have to do. 5 minutes later I created an equipment order and was gone. Not only did I produce that job and light it, but I also shot it. As have so many other photo assistants over the years.

    You give me 1/5 of any of Annie’s budgets and access to the same resources, and I can find you 100 seasoned NYC or LA. photo assistants that can produce equal or better work than Annie with out the drama.

    Photo Assistant: “F/5.6 @ 1/4
    Famous photographer: “…1/4,…. that’s the little ring on the outside of the lens?”

    “I have “plans” for the evening. So take the client out to dinner, get them drunk, and give me a wake up call after 10am tomorrow.”

    (while driving to a location for an editorial shoot)
    Photo Assistant: “…so what did you do before photography..”
    Photographer: “Oh, I was a professional Frisbee player”
    Photo Assistant: “So how long have you been shooting?”
    Photographer: “Oh about 3 months”

    Even sadder is that these are not isolated incidents. and every photo assistant has stories like this.

    …you know, maybe its time to write that book.

    No, don’t hate photographers or photography, just detest mediocrity.

    • Donnar Party

      @James, Yeah, but what about the guys I worked for who had a schematic, knew exactly what they wanted, and with what lights, and what grid, and what Roscoe they thought was necessary for the tone of the shadows or tint in highlights? I’ve also had your experience with a dumbass with a camera and killer contacts, but Annie isn’t that person. Annie knows exactly what she wants and makes her assistants/MUA/Stylists get it how she wants it, even if her management style is, well, a cross between R. Lee Ermey and and Mussolini. She had a moment, in the 1990′s, working the RZ, when she was great.

      • @Donnar Party & James,

        You’re both accurate in your assessments regarding the experiences and realities of the high-level world of the “big-city” photography profession. During my NYC assisting days, I can certainly confirm James’ accountants and anecdotes of working with top-level photographers who had more contacts than technical expertise. However, it’s a mixed bag and although, I’ve never assisted Annie Leibovitz, I’ve witnessed, from start to finish, a shoot she did of Al Pacino for the cover of Vanity Fair many years ago, while one morning sitting in my favorite Greenwich Village café as she and her crew overtook the place as she barked out orders like a drill sergeant with regard to the coordination of lighting and set arrangements. In that sense, she was the real deal and was confident and in complete control.
        Regardless of her current and unfortunate situation, you can’t take that away from her.

  13. “IDN.
    ID PURE.
    IDEA-
    ICON
    ………………………..
    ……………..
    …………………….
    STADIUMAGAZINE[C]

  14. The Visitor

    I think it is a shame to live your life in the public eye and then have the knives come out when you stumble. Annie built her career on talent, ability, guts, gumption and the willingness to go overboard.

    You can not take that away from her.

    I’ve met her and did not like the person I saw. The artist is another thing. She is very talented. There is the persona and then the person. In Annies case, maybe she became the persona.

    I wonder if the photographers who are idolized by the fan boys and are building empires will be smart enough to escape their own hubris.

    It is a shame to see this happening and for her to have her life and finances discussed in public like this.

  15. Pretty interesting – I didn’t know about her temper, lack of frugality, or current situation. But some of her photographs are absolute revelations.

  16. Jock Bradley

    I remember hearing someone introducing Annie at ICP and compared her work to being as illuminating and as great as Philippe Halsman. While I shouldn’t have held Annie responsible for such an overrated comment, I’ve never been able to consider her work iconic.

    A great portrait photographer captures the essence of their subject without placing themselves in the shot. Annie adds an unnecessary part of herself and thus the viewer never sees a true and unfettered portrait.

  17. Van Gogh, Rembrandt are famous for there work. We know little of their personality and personal lives. Their work is famous for the mere quality of it. So is the work of Orson Welles, Richard Avedon….and Annie Leibovitz.

    You can listen to crazy stories about Orson Welles, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton but that doesnot change a thing on the quality of their work.
    Great businessmen, great photographers, great athlethes, all these outperformers are NOT average people, they not only are very talented but are very ambitious, very competitive, creative, want to be in control, etc etc. These people have NOT a middle-of-the-road personality. Do you really think “normal” people are able to produce such a body of outstanding work ??

    All these great assistant who worked for her and could do the job better ? Why weren’t you the ones who did those Vanity Fair covers ? Now Annie is the bitch and the other ones, including Avedon, where the nice persons.. simply not true !! DO your homework on Avedon.

    If you want great work you will meet artists who are not only talented but also have this very peculiar personalities. And if you are a nice guy and / or not overtalented you end up as a middle of the road photographer or assistant. If you cannot be that bastard completely in control and demanding the most bizarre contributions of your team you will at best be good photographer but never a great photographer.

    • The Visitor

      @jan scherders,

      If you want great work you will meet artists who are not only talented but also have this very peculiar personalities. And if you are a nice guy and / or not overtalented you end up as a middle of the road photographer or assistant. If you cannot be that bastard completely in control and demanding the most bizarre contributions of your team you will at best be good photographer but never a great photographer.

      So, if you are not a prick then you are not any good/

      So Ansel had to yell at the mountains or Jay maisel has to yell at the NY Street scene or Seve McCurry has to scream at his translator in India?

      Are you saying you can only be a great photographer if you shoot over produced and over processed images with absurd budgets and props and act like a prima donna?

      Dude, those days are over. Act like a whining queen and guess what, you don’t come back.

      You can be in control, show your vision, insist upon a great crew, have fun and still come up with kick-ass images.

  18. This story really goes to show that Annie, while successful and talented, is a lot like many, many Americans when it comes to financial management.

    While monumental and dramatic due to its scale, is sadly very typical.

    This passage sounds like any other story about a subprime loan:

    ‘Leibovitz has told people that she didn’t understand the ramifications of the agreement she signed. She did not show the contract to any member of her family or even her agent before she signed it, nor did she hire her own attorney to review the document. Instead she relied on an attorney whom Starr provided. “Trust me,” says her sister Paula. “She thought it was a pure loan. That New York Times article was as much news to her as it was to anybody else.”’

    And this one:

    ‘“Ms. Leibovitz and a small army of her lawyers and financial advisers understood the terms of the deal,” insists Montieth Illingworth, a spokesman for Art Capital. “It was discussed explicitly with her numerous times over several months. Ms. Leibovitz signed her name five times to different documents in the transaction. To say otherwise is not credible.”’

    Is a line of pure bullshit from Art Capital. Anyone who’s taken out a mortgage (even a standard “prime” mortgage) will understand. It gets discussed for weeks and then at the closing, you sign so many documents with a tornado of paperwork going around the table, that by the end of it you aren’t sure exactly what you’ve signed. You just know that the bank lent you the money and you walked away with the keys to the house. You don’t find out exactly what you signed until afterwards, and that’s only if you go over the 100+ pages of contracts with a fine tooth comb and a law degree.

    This all reminds me of way too many tragic celebrity financial stories… I’m guessing it will be an “E True Hollywood Story” in a few short years.

    • Donnar Party

      @dude, It appears that Art Capital are predatory. They are setting the table to eat when their prey isn’t even dead yet. I hope Goldman lends Annie the money to pay off Art Capital, at reasonable rates and better terms. They just might, as they are flush with cash and need some positive PR.

      • @Donnar Party,

        I agree – Art Capital is extremely predatory, just like a lot of the subprime mortgage lenders were/are (google “American Home” for an example). Actually, “predatory” is an overly-polite word for it. I can’t believe they’re suing to sell her property before there’s been any breach of contract. Art Capital is pure evil.

        I’m betting she will come out of this alive, although not unscathed. She will find herself starting anew.

        Also, I can’t see how a court would uphold an agreement “for all future work” – I thought that was called slavery (since, technically, indentured servitude is for a limited time period, so we can’t really call it that either).

        She will probably lose her shirt however, to Art Capital, to Goldman Sachs, to Getty, her lawyers, or whatever party swoops in to benefit from her current predicament.

  19. the traveler

    Speaking as the rankest amateur, I have a different view of AL.

    I saw her traveling show at a museum in DC and there were three parts to it:1) the very large, highly produced images she is known for – quite impressive in their way; 2) the personal BW photographs documenting her life, very interesting not for the quality of the captures but in the documentary sense and 3) very large (very large) pictures taken from a helicopter of a wide variety of nature scenes, usually mountains, etc. all very muted and all showing extreme blurring – as one would get from being taken in a helicopter at very long shutter speed. These seemed to be the most recent – and the most enlightening.

    It seemed to be an attempt to find a new way of looking at iconic scenes – and it failed completely. It was technique for its own sake, that showed nothing new or interesting about the scenes.

    I realized then how difficult it must be for an AL to come up with something new or even good all the time.

    • Donnar Party

      @the traveler, The helicopter shots are from the late 80′s, they were the result of Annie going out to shoot the WEST and not liking anything she got on the ground, so she went up in the chopper and started shooting, with an RZ, at 1/400. At the time, all magazine photos were pin sharp, medium format chromes. These blurred landscapes were really different back then.

      • the traveler

        @Donnar Party, thanks for the information. That changes my impression – but not positively. The blurred landscapes may have been ‘different’ but this was just a mannered technique applied to a set of pictures without providing any more artistic insight. And the hubris of printing them so huge as if to trumpet some artistic or technical leap – wow!

        • Donnar Party

          @the traveler, I was just starting out back then, and these had an impact. It was taking a big dump on all of the technicaly perfect images then en vogue. They seem to have riled you up, which is a good thing. Is printing them large Hubris? No, they are dream-like at that size. But I’m not here to defend Annie or her photos, which are in many cases remarkable.

  20. That such an icon is in financial trouble speaks as much about the industry as the person. We are all struggling right now in our ways (and the few who aren’t, may well be in 5 years). I don’t know enough about Annie the person, but I do have a great appreciation for Annie Leibovitz the photographer through her work and I can say that she is more than just a talented photographer that deserves what she gets. She is the single most identifiable living editorial photographer of our time. There is a reason for that, and I think those that jump in to take pleasure in her financial trouble are spreading some bad Karma of their own.

  21. Susan Olshan

    Long after all the gossip and anecdotes fade, long after the pool of whining assistants who worked with Leibovitz are gone, when the story of her financial problems is just a footnote, Annie Leibovitz’s work will hang in respected collections as icons of our culture and her talent.

    Leibovitz is a brilliant artist of the photographic media. Her level of greatest takes dedication, not popularity. For all the critics of Leibovitz’s personality, the fact remains that she is recognized as one of the greatest photographers of her time.

    I crossed paths with Leibovitz early in my career and was terrified of her. BUT, to have the privilege of watching Leibovitz set up and shoot, was a rare opportunity to learn from a master.

    Of all the opinions passed on Leibovitz, the one that matters most will come decades from now and will honor her.

    • @Susan Olshan,

      Thanks Susan for your civilized take on this – all those ‘long knives’ above are a frightening reflection of who we have become as a society.