Blurring the Lines: The Photographer as Celebrity

There are many photographers today who are extremely well-known in the industry as well as outside of the industry. Some are not only well-known, but perhaps famous in their own right.

Case in point: Annie Leibovitz.

I would venture to guess that even those who only vaguely know of fashion, or other, photographers, know her name. What I find interesting, and a bit peculiar regarding Leibovitz, as opposed to other highly regarded photographers currently working, is how much of a “celebrity” of sorts she has become.

While others, such as Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel, Paolo Roversi, etc., seem able to keep mostly to themselves and only seem to be mentioned when it’s alongside their work, Leibovitz somehow gets dragged into the spotlight not just for her work, which has gotten much attention for the controversy it stirs up at times, but also for her personal affairs.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the stories that sprang up regarding Leibovitz’s apparent financial difficulties. Of course this news was surprising when you consider her fees to do a single shoot. And yet, I never read anything about Demarchelier’s finances. There is the occasional mention of of his son, Victor, who is notable for some of his own work as well the fact that he’s dating model, Caroline Trentini. But, for the most part, even the personal lives of other famous photographers seems somewhat untouched in the news.

What makes Leibovitz special in this regard? The question of “celebrity” status for photographers becomes more relevant when we start to see ads such as this:

Image via WWD

That’s certainly putting herself out there. Many photographers are famously known to absolutely hate being photographed themselves. According to WWD, Louis Vuitton approached Leibovitz, who usually shoots these particular ad campaigns, to pose for it instead with her chosen companion for the shot, Mikhail Baryshnikov (absolutely love him btw, and some of you may remember M.B. as Aleksandr on SATC) as an act of support for Leibovitz as an artist due to her widely publicized financial troubles.

It’s an interesting move…but is it the right move? Posing for such ads will seemingly put her more in the spotlight than she already has been. Will this become more common for other photographers? Certainly there are many industries which lend themselves to “celebrity” status professionals…Food Network, celeb chefs anyone? (Not that I’m hating, I’m obsessed with the Food Network). Something to ponder…

-B

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About Brandie

I'm a freelance photographer based in Paris.
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