A Photographer’s Life

by shz

So. I went to Leibovitz’s exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. I was going to miss it as it was at its final weeks. Man, I never thought it was such a big deal. The exhibition started in October last year and still selling out last Saturday afternoon. I felt it was important especially for me to be inspired by the works of others and this exhibition couldn’t have lasted at any better time.

I was disappointed at first when I came out of the gallery, feeling that there were only so few great photographs exhibited that could make the other 3 boys I dragged to see the exhibition felt that their money was worth spent. For normal visitors like them, it must’ve been an uninteresting one. And I kept forgetting that the title itself says “Annie Leibovitz : A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005”, so I should’ve expected a lot of family fun snaps from her to be exhibited, which they were. There were few famous shots of celebrities but in between that too were series of photographs documented her close friend, Susan Sontag’s journey as a breast cancer fighter, who eventually died. Also pictures of her parents, children, friends and other families going about their daily life, and occasionally her self-portraits when she was pregnant ala Demi Moore.

Those pictures were not fantastically composed or subjected, they were monochromatic silver prints and most of it seem amateurish and revealed a lot of flaws I didn’t expect from someone so celebrated as her. But that’s the essential thing. And where she had a whole wall full of pictures pinned up on a board, it was like as if looking at her contact sheets. I’ve always thought that contact sheet is the best thing to go through and understand the way you photograph and how your mind works in order to achieve a single, best shot. It explains how you see things and prioritize the important elements in your subjects. I don’t remember how Leibovitz’s is, but I could see a great deal of dramatic lighting in all her shots. Maybe that was her concern – a person as a subject is obvious, but giving the light to it is another.

Undoubtedly, I felt the urge of just taking some time off, and I know I kept saying this but never did and it breaks my heart so not being able to feel images in prints in my hands again. For now I will reminisce those feelings and hold on to it. I remember I used to be so good at it, although I don’t remember what made me so. Oftenly inspirations visit at times I was too busy with something else, which kinda sucks.

I need to revisit some old stuff buried somewhere in a stack of boxes under my bed. They’re probably dusted now, but I’ll wipe it away.