Friday, June 11, 2010

Annie Leibovitz

If you're affiliated with military in any way you'll know exactly what I'm talking about here. The other day a group of Marines, their wives, and Nick and I were sitting at a free steak lunch complaining about the USMC. Looking back I feel a little ungrateful, I mean it was free steak and I just absolutely love free food, it adds to the flavor I think. Anyway, free steak or not, we were complaining and the Marines were saying things like "June 9th, 2010, the day I officially lost all faith in the Corps", things like that. Apparently something had ticked them off. So we're all sitting there having ourselves a pity fest when the 1st Sgt. walks over and starts talking to all of us and specifically asked Nick about his plans for re-enlistment. What followed was this motivational speech about how to go far in the USMC, what to do next career wise, etc, etc. Forget the late nights, forget how Nick is hardly home anymore, forget the deployments, the time away from family, and all the other things that go into military life we were instantly transformed from planning on returning to San Antonio to never ever wanting to step foot off a military base because it is our home and how dare we even think otherwise. I love those little speech's, they get me every time.

So what the heck does any of this have to do with Annie Leibovitz? I watched her documentary last night and through it I got the whole don't quit what you love speech that the 1st Sgt gave Nick. I love photography, there is no doubt about that. But I don't love forcing smiles from people who don't want to smile. I don't love having dirt kicked in my face by an unruly child whose mother thinks it's my job solely to tame her children and coax a smile worthy of hanging on their living room wall. Sometimes I cringe at the thought of going to work, knowing what lies ahead. There, I said it. Occasionally I find that person who isn't afraid to show themselves and then I'm happy. But those people are rare, or are they? I don't think they're that rare because if so Annie Leibovitz is just beyond lucky in finding people who aren't afraid to show their personalities. She coaxes not smiles, but honesty from her subjects. I need to do that but I'm still trying to figure out how.
I can take honest photos of my family but that's because they're comfortable around me and they're not paying me. I'm not sure my clients want honesty in their photos. I think they want posed photos in their Sunday best to give to grandma because that is tradition. I personally would want the photo above hanging on my wall instead .

Annie Leibovitz documented all aspects of her life, and I mean all. She photographed her friends death for example and while you won't see me doing that I want to try to be a little more like that, always having a camera in hand and photographing everything. Annie said sometimes you may think a photo is mundane but it may turn out to be the best you've ever taken. I need to remember that.

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