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A Photographer's Life

A Photographer's Life

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One of the most celebrated photographers of our time presents a selection of her work of the last fifteen years. The material documents the arc of Leibovitz’s relationship with her companion, Susan Sontag, who died in 2004; the birth of her three daughters; and many events involving her large and robust family, including the death of her father. The book is permeated with strong emotions. Leibovitz’s passion for her family and friends is part of a larger passion that extends to the subjects of her professional work, and the two worlds meet thematically. Portraits of public figures include the pregnant Demi Moore, Nelson Mandela in Soweto, Jack Nicholson on Mulholland Drive, Bill Clinton in the Oval Office, William Burroughs in Kansas, and Agnes Martin in Taos.
Over 300 photographs are accompanied by an essay by Leibovitz that discusses the circumstances under which the work was made, both technically and logistically, and her relationships with and thoughts about many of the subjects.

"Going through my pictures to put this book together was like being on an archaeological dig. The work I did on assignments for magazines and for advertisements was edited and organized, but I didn't even know how much other material I had. I don't take a lot of purely personal pictures. Susan Sontag, who was with me during the years the book encompasses, used to complain that I didn't take enough pictures. She would say that every other photographer she knew took pictures all the time. I would take a few rolls of film and throw them in a box and they wouldn't be developed for months. Sometimes I wouldn't even look at the contact sheets. But after Susan died, on December 28, 2004, I began searching for photographs of her to put in a little book that was intended to be given to the people who came to her memorial service. The project was important to me, because it made me feel close to her and helped me to begin to say good-bye. I found so many things I didn't remember or perhaps had not even seen before. 1 also began looking at all the photographs I had taken of the rest of my family. My father had been ill for some time, and I had flown down to Florida to be with him after spending Christmas in the hospital in New York with Susan. She died before I could get back. He died six weeks later.
My mother and father took photographs and made eight-millimeter home movies when I was growing up, but I didn't start taking pictures myself until the late Sixties, when I was studying at the San Francisco Art Institute. Personal reportage was a prominent element of the curriculum then. You were supposed to photograph things that meant something to you. One of the most meaningful pictures to me is Robert Frank's portrait of his wife and kids in the car when the sun is coming up. They've pulled over to the side of the road and may even have slept there. That reminds me so much of my family. My father was in the Air Force, and every time he was transferred to a new base we jumped into the car and drove there. We lived together in cars. When young photographers ask me what they should do, I always tell them to stay close to home.
I had put a few personal pictures in the first retrospective collection of my work, which covered the years 1970-1990, and I thought that I would do that again for this book. Then, when I realized that I had so much more personal material than I had imagined, and that the period this book covers is almost exactly the years I was with Susan, I considered doing a book made up completely of personal work".

Anne Leibovitz

Издание на английском языке.