You might have searched through the entire internet to find the appropriate course on photography that can cover more than just “camera and lens”.
I did too, but luckily, I was able to find a photography course handled by a celebrity photographer, Annie Leibovitz, on MasterClass – an online learning platform.
Did the MasterClass by Annie Leibovitz exceed my expectations?
You’ll find the answers below.
In this review, I’ll break down everything you need to know about Annie Leibovitz MasterClass, the lessons, what I liked, and many more.
Towards the end, I also answer the verdict on “Is Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass worth it?”
A Short Summary:
Here is a short summary of the entire MasterClass by Annie Leibovitz.
You’ll be able to learn the following:
- How to take a great photograph
- The creative process behind shooting
- Bringing conceptual ideas to life
- Insights on celebrity photographs
- How to study a photographer’s work
Suitable for: Anyone who is interested in learning portrait, experimental, and conceptual photography or someone who wants to explore the creative process, gets crazy with photography and wants to know insights into iconic photographs.
The number of lessons: 15 lessons
Duration: Around 3 hours
Quick verdict: Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass is worth it for various reasons like the breakdown of conceptual photography, the focus on creativity, and art of all forms. She extended her topic to various elements of photography that courses and schools, in general, do not often cover.
A Sneak Peek of Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass:
Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass is filled with creativity, concepts, and concentration towards the art of photography which means it is not your average course on the technical aspect of photography.
The MasterClass by Annie Leibovitz is broken down into 15 lessons with a watch-time of around 3 hours. You can efficiently complete her MasterClass within a week. I mean, I took three lessons a day and finished them in a week.
MasterClass is a platform which is filled with 100+ courses which are taught by celebrities such as Martin Scorcese MasterClass — “Teaches Filmmaking, Aaron Franklin MasterClass — “Teaches Texas-Style BBQ”, James Patterson MasterClass — “Teaches Writing”, David Lynch MasterClass — ” Teaches Creativity and Film”, and many more.
Note: There is a lot more information available on MasterClass and that’s why we have done a thorough review of MasterClass.
Along with the course, you also get additional PDF formatted workbooks with detailed information about Annie Leibovitz’s photographs, creative assignments, and simple tasks.
An interactive student-only community is added in the dashboard, allowing students to share thoughts, feedback, or even raise questions about the course.
Annie Leibovitz: Who is she?
Annie Leibovitz is one of the world’s best portrait photographers who kick-started her career by working as a photojournalist in a popular American magazine, Rolling Stone.
She is known for her powerful portraits of famous celebrities like Meryl Steep, Caitlyn Jenner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barack Obama, and more.
She has even shot portraits for The Queen and the last person to photograph the late English singer John Lennon as he was killed 5 hours after the shoot.
Her accolade lists are endless because she has been honored with various awards. Also, it is said that she used the camera Mamiya RZ67 in her initial years of working as a photographer.
Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass Lessons Explained
The MasterClass handled by Annie Leibovitz has complete insight into the art of photography. I know I keep stressing on “art of photography,” but you’ll understand why eventually by the end.
It would be nearly impossible for me to compile the entire course, but I will cover the best takeaways and highlight Annie Leibovitz’s in the way possible.
Without further ado, shall we begin?
1. Introduction – Annie Leibovitz
The MasterClass starts with a slide of some of the iconic works by Annie Leibovitz while she gives a voiceover about the subject and introduces herself to the course. Even by the introduction, you can tell that Annie Leibovitz has a fantastic storytelling skill, which was extraordinary to witness.
Also, Annie says that she is not a technical photographer, which means her course will be more on the creative aspect of photography which I presumed as a disclaimer.
“When I take a picture I take 10 percent of what I see.”
I felt motivated because she repeatedly told her students to be conceptual, abstract, and journalistic. She explained her early life as a photojournalist as she gathered with ten students at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Lesson 2 was focused on photojournalism and her passion for it. Few students shared their experiences. She also advised her students to embrace photography and not confine themselves to a specific niche of art.
Like, she digs on experimenting with rock N roll and few unique concepts.
2. How to Capture a Great Photograph
Annie shares meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger for the first time in 1962 in South Africa and working with Caitlyn Jenner on an impactful photoshoot, which was engaging to know the story behind.
You get to witness a lot of celebrity shots and the behind-the-scenes from Lesson 3. Watch out!
“In a portrait, you have room to have a point of view. The image may not be literally what’s going on, but it’s representative.”
She talks about the relationship of a person with a photograph defines the quality of that photography which explains that you might like a picture today, but you might not tomorrow.
Hence, Leibovitz suggests capturing the moment while it lasts. That was a great tip.
3. Conceptual photography
The real deal about creating imaginative concepts to life with the help of photography starts in Lesson 3. This was the most anticipated part in Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass, I suppose.
She skims through her first cover photoshoot with Grace Slick, which was good to know. Later, she goes in-depth about conceptual photography with many celebrity examples. I was excited about this.
There were two concept masterpieces by Annie, which I fell in love with. One was the bathtub photoshoot with an upcoming young comedian (by then) Whoopi Goldberg, where she says
“Scrubbing her black skin off and thinking that underneath she would be white.”
For that, Annie had filled a bathtub with milk and let Whoopi sink in the bathtub while capturing her hands, legs, and face in the shot. It was indeed a different approach to conceptual photography.
The other was Robert Penn Warren’s scary shots.
Annie said that the look that Robert had given from his window made her come back for another shoot while she had left his house. The look was haunting, she adds.
In the lesson, Annie briefs about the behind-the-scenes of Robert’s photo. She says that his room delivered the tone of death, which set the mood. To complete the photograph, Annie removed his shirt so that his bones can be seen, which will also turn out the photo to be raw.
Those were great examples and dissection of concepts, which was clear to understand. You also get to witness incredible photoshoots with Keth Haring.
4. Lights, Studio, Location
We all know that lighting plays a vital role in the process of photography.
Be it studio light or natural light. Lighting is essential no matter what. In the lessons followed by conceptual photography, Annie discusses the importance of lighting and how to work with light.
“There are still so many places on our planet that remain unexplored. I’d love to one day peel back the mystery and understand them.”
Note that you also get to see great examples of celebrity shots directly from the camera through every teaching.
She also suggests making the best use of natural light even if there were light sources and briefs about creating a beautiful shot using proper lighting and accurate shutter speed.
Lighting lessons are followed by differentiating shooting in a location and shooting in a studio. Annie says that you get a lot of benefits in shooting from a location than shooting a studio.
The flow of shoots is not constant, resulting in various photographs, whereas, in a studio, you are exposed to one set of focus only on the subject. You did not notice this earlier, right?
For studio, she makes her New York Studio as an example and shows an overview of it.
5. Technical Photography
Like mentioned earlier, Annie Leibovitz is not a technical photographer, and the lesson did not do justice to the title. She tried to mean the technological aspect of editing photographs, I believe.
“I feel a responsibility to my backyard. I want it to be taken care of and protected.”
In the lesson, she does not teach handling a camera and all that technical stuff, but the software and digital tools to enhance a stock photo to an extraordinary photograph. As an example, a picture of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West was displayed.
She also talks about the effectiveness of a blurred photo and why you should not throw it away.
By the end, you get an exciting assignment that is quite fun to participate in.
6. Influence of a Photograph
In Lesson 14, you learn how to study from other photographers not by taking a course online but by looking at their photographs and getting influenced by them.
“I’ve always cared more about taking pictures than about the art market”.
Annie talks through few photographers who had influenced her and how she did that. She also reminds us that it is not easy and challenging, but you can somehow learn from it.
This lesson is a must-watch; hence, be attentive to Annie’s examples; it is helpful.
7. Evolution of a Photographer
The last lesson is where Annie wraps up her MasterClass with her entertaining life journey. She quickly summarizes her entire life working as a photographer, which was inspirational.
“I actually love talking about taking pictures, and I think that helps everyone.”
Apart from that, few case studies that she explains throughout the course in Lesson 12 & 13 are worth watching because it covers value in terms of photography.
What I Liked About The MasterClass by Annie Leibovitz:
The MasterClass by Annie Leibovitz was a great experience, and there were few things that I really loved about the course that I’d like to share.
Suitable for all levels 🎚️
Like everybody else, I wondered if the course might be too difficult to grasp, but luckily it wasn’t. I’d suggest a basic knowledge about handling a camera as it can help big time because few things that Annie talks about in the course require some understanding of using a camera.
If you are a beginner, you’d quickly understand what she is trying to convey and learn about the subject, but if you are an experienced photographer, you get loads of tips on portrait photography.
So, the course is flexible in such a way that it is suitable for all levels.
Sneak Peek into Celebrity photographs 😎
Sometimes when you look at an iconic photograph, you would want to know about the process behind capturing that photograph. Well, in Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass, she does precisely that where she unveils the step-by-step process that goes into a celebrity photoshoot.
For example, in Lesson 3, she talks about the haunting shots of Robert Penn Warren, which were taken at his bedroom while being shirtless. She explains how raw she wanted the photograph to be.
Innovative and Easy Assignments 🎯
While some online courses can give unbelievable topics to write essays on, prepare 20 slide presentations, or even do mathematical exercises, Leibovitz does nothing like that.
In an assignment from Lesson 2, she literally tells you to cut out a photograph from a newspaper or a magazine, pin it to a wall and resonate with it. She suggests you think about all possibilities of taking a photograph even better or be mesmerized by how exceptional it is.
I did the latter part obviously because the cover pages in Vogue are always exceptionally shot.
- Learn 📷 Photography From The Best
- Learn Technical Photography
- Learn To Capture Moments Perfectly
What I Feel Can be Improved in Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass:
Although there were some exciting things that I liked about Annie Leibovitz, there were certain aspects that can be improved or even be neglected, in my opinion:
Change of title
In Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass, you get to learn more than only photography. I mean, the creative process, how to plan a concept, and even to set up the mood for an image.
The title “Photography” seems like they fit a specific box, but people who know photography and want to learn the creative aspects might be misled into choosing a different course.
Disclaimer of Nudity
Even in movies, if there are scenes or episodes with nudity, there are disclaimers or warnings about it beforehand, but I could not see any of such notices.
Although they are only Annie Leibovitz’s photographs, it might not be comfortable for few students; hence I’d suggest MasterClass flag such content or at least make a clear indication about it.
Who is Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass Best Suited for?
Do you think if you are a proper fit for Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass?
Well, let me solve the confusion for you. I’ll recommend it from my experience.
If you are interested in learning portrait, experimental, and conceptual photography or someone who wants to explore the creative process, get crazy with photography, and want to know insights of iconic photographs shot by Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass, you can blindly take her course.
Even if you are a fan of Annie Leibovitz, you can take up her MasterClass because the course is a fun ride into her life as a photographer as well.
Although landscape photographers and anyone who is seeking technical knowledge about handling cameras or how to use them properly cannot find any value in Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass and might get upset.
Is The Content in Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass Unique?
To decipher the fact about Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass, I’d say that the course is sincerely unique.
Hear me out on this. There are plenty of photography courses, tutorials, and guides on the internet already. Still, there are no photography courses that teach unique perspectives, creative processes, and various abstract art forms in photography.
Well, all these are unspoken teachings covered in her MasterClass, making it stand apart from others.
You also get to hear stories behind Annie’s famous photographs, which is a bonus.
How Much Does Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass cost?
MasterClass has only one annual subscription with multiple perks. Let me tell you more about it.
The annual subscription, considered All-Access Pass, is priced at $180/- per year (which can be billed for $15/- per month) offers 100+ courses handled by celebrities worldwide in various niches from writing to acting to singing. Only MasterClass has such a plan giving the most benefit to users.
I’ll share my experience of using the All-Access Pass to the fullest, where I was able to learn multiple skills simultaneously without paying any extra money.
For example, while taking Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass on Photography, I also learned the Art of Storytelling by Neil Gaiman and James Patterson’s MasterClass on writing.
This way, I was able to acquire knowledge on related fields of interest. You can also take cooking courses handled by Aaron Franklin on BBQ cooking and Gordon Ramsay on home cooking.
The best opportunity to learn from celebrities while sitting in the comfort of your home?
I’d strongly recommend buying the All-Access Pass and take multiple courses right away!
NOTE: There is also a 30-day money-back guarantee which can be used risk-free.
Do You Need Anything While Taking Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass?
Though there are not many technical takeaways from Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass, you can only cover up the teachings and assignments with the help of a mobile camera.
If you are someone who’d like to get hands-on equipment, I’d suggest
- A decent DSLR camera (any brand)
- Any editing software (cheap is better)
Alternatives to Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass:
Taking a course on the internet is not always promising in certain aspects. In that case, if you are not satisfied with Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass on Photography. Nothing to worry about. I have curated some good alternatives for you to try, which are worth taking and learning.
On the same platform, MasterClass, there are other courses on Photography like Jimmy Chin’s “Teaches Adventure Photography,” which pretty much focuses on shooting wildlife.
Another course on MasterClass by Jeff Koons where he teaches Art and Creativity would be a great option because it is similar to Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass. Even though she teaches the creative side of photography in her course, this is the main subject in Jeff Koons’ MasterClass.
How Long Does It Take to Complete Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass?
In my experience, I took Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass slow and steady through the entire course which had only 3 hours of watch-time. You know, I was taking enough time to understand each lesson.
Since the courses in MasterClass are self-paced, you can take them whenever you want, and there is no limit. With this advantage, it took me a week to complete her MasterClass fully.
Of course, you can complete her MasterClass in a day, but it depends on how focused you are.
Final Verdict On: Annie Leibovitz MasterClass Review
Being a creative person, I’d definitely say that Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass was worth it for various reasons like the breakdown of conceptual photography, the focus on creativity, and art of all forms.
Leibovitz did not stick herself to the label of photography only but extended her topic to various elements of photography that courses and schools, in general, do not often cover.
While on the one hand, it may seem an advantage, ironically, it is also considered as a downside because most people enrolling in photography courses would want to learn the dynamics of handling a camera, the technical aspect of photography, and sometimes even specifically on landscape mode.
Suppose you are looking forward to learning the core subject of photography. In that case, I’d recommend checking out the alternatives to Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass that I have listed above with the All-Access Pass.
If you are an aesthete and love to learn the art of photography, you can blindly take up Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass immediately without any doubt!
You can take multiple courses with the All-Access Pass from 10+ niches, so even if you took Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass, I’d urge you to take two more courses that can be beneficial.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cost of Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass?
You can purchase Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass with an annual plan of $180/- (billed as $15 per month). With the All-Access Plan, you can take 100+ courses simultaneously.
How long does it take to complete Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass?
Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass has a watch-time of only around 3 hours, and even if you sit down for 30 mins per day taking the course, you can complete it entirely within a week.
Is it worth taking Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass?
Yes, Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass is worth taking for various reasons like teachings on conceptual photography, insights on celebrity photographs, and tips on building creativity.
Is there an alternative to Annie Leibovitz’s MasterClass?
There are alternatives like Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass on Adventure Photography and Jeff Koons’ MasterClass on Art and Creativity. You can take both with the All-Access Pass.