Behind the Scenes with Annie Leibovitz for Disney Dream Portrait

No matter where you fall in the vast pool of opinions regarding Annie Leibovitz and her skills as a photographer one thing is certain. She and her team consistently produce amazing images. They've knocked another one out of the park with the latest in the Dream Portrait series. In this latest image Jennifer Hudson fills the role of Tiana from The Princess and the Frog.

While most of the video is in interview format, there are some places where you can catch a glimpse of the lighting and setup. This is definitely one you're going to want to dissect if you're a location shooter.

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16 Comments

A ton of post production........

20% on set, 80% in PS

Well you go into this project knowing there is a ton of post. If you look at Annies laptop though, you see color correction mostly done and the lighting is near perfect. She hasnt changed this formula for a while. Disney is an annimation type company so they expect heavily post processed images to go along with their theme. People always try to say Annies work is too processed without looking at her recent work for Vanity Fair and Nike, which is not heavily processed, its just shot clean out of the gate.

I wonder if they even used an image w swamp/woman/frog in the same image with post on top. Towards the end you can see them shooting her in front of a sweep or something similar. I would bet that they actually used individual shots of her/swamp/frog and combined them in post. Its funny, you could probably pull off this entire shoot w her in a studio and swamp/frog on location (or frog in studio). The only thing that would be tricky is her reflection but you could get a kiddie pool or something in studio to handle that (don't laugh it would totally work :) ), probably would have cost less to produce too. I wonder what the motivation is to shoot everything on location, I guess if you have the budget to do it why not?

Maybe it would cost less. But vision alone is almost never enough to bring a project to its fullest potential. A real set will inspire you, surprise you, bring everyone including the models in the right mood. A real set will tell your story slightly differently than you wanted, but that's the beauty of it. I often go home after the first inspection of a location and totally rethink my original idea to include the locations power and shape.

good point

To me, the final result seems pretty fake, so if this is the mood...

Disney has a specific standard and look they try to keep throughout their images. The vast majority of the time - it is an imaginary world that does not exist. It looks pretty fake because its meant to be lol... Im not sure how you didnt notice that. Google Disney and tell me if any of that stuff looks real to you! - she simply provided the client with the look the wanted.

General Sidenote: its funny to see how people are quick to talk smack about a photograph/photographer. Try doing what shes doing then you'll understand !

I'm not talking smak and I think you didn't get the point. The result may be amazing and may be what exactly what the client is asking for. I'm just replying to John Flury: if the used a tank to kill a fly just for the mood... well, I don't see the mood. That's all. I don't think I said something so offensive, just my 2c. But nowadays seems like you're wrong just for having an opinion...

my apologies if I misunderstood you. your not wrong for having an opinion!

The lighting in the video, and what shows up on the laptop screen looks pretty consistent with the final image. Its a digital file, so its always going to get PP, but i dont think its all that dramatic in this case. Annies lighting is pretty cinematic, and with the right gear, and use of the gear, this shot wouldnt be completely out of the question. I believe the sweep is used for alternate shots for magazine covers etc.

have you tried any of the stuff you speak about ?

This had nothing to do with behind the scenes with Annie Leibovitz... Just the model talking about how much she loves Disney. I would love to hear Annie talking more about the process. Disappointing.

This is not a BTS about the photographer, but a BTS about Jennifer Hudson. few people care about the photographer except for other photographers. this is content created and provided by Disney to display Jennifer Hudson, not Annie. Annies process has been the same for many many years and you can google it pretty easy. You may have watched this expecting the wrong things,

Felix Hernandez's picture

It's all about creating... bringing dreams a life... No matter if it's to much pos or on set... The final result it's what matters. It's DISNEY!!!!.... Great Work.

I wonder how much she got paid ?