Annie Leibovitz Photographs Profoto Founder Conny Dufgran

annie leibovitz profoto portrait behind the scenesEveryone knows Annie Leibovitz is one of the most, if not THE most, well known photographer in the world. Her images evoke a strong sense of story, drama, and beauty. It's not surprising why so many advertising agencies choose Annie to take their clients' portraits. In this video Annie Leibovitz puts Profoto co-founder Conny Dufgran in front of his own lights for a series of environmental portraits. Like most of Annie's behind the scenes videos, you really have to pay attention to the details because she isn't going to spell it all out for you. The first time I watched this video I noticed how much feathering she does with her medium octaboxes, how she controls fill light with large black cards, and even a little on how she directs her subjects. I also like the magic arm trick she uses to get her softlighter closer to her subject...I might have to steal that one. If you have any tips you have taken from Leibovitz share them in the comments.





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One thing I noticed, is that even though the big Octa will lead you to believe is the main light, when looking at the final picture it seems like it was just used as a big soft fill.

Anonymous's picture

She uses that soft small octa quite a bit...

Richard Grebby's picture

her work is always amazing, thanks for posting. Im a big fan of her editing as well, it seems that there is so much dynamic range in the shots, good lighting or good editing?

Gannon Burgett's picture

A combination of both. I feel lighting is what entices the emotion of the image, though.

José T.'s picture

If you think Annie herself does the post editing, you're so naive. She just pushes the trigger, that's pretty much where her work ends. She would be no one without her team.

Nick Shek's picture

holy moly those Profoto packs recycle quickly.

Antoine Thisdale's picture

Looking at Annie's Louis Vuitton's work is always a very good fun. They are unfortunately always heavily retouched, but you always get a hell of a feel for story telling in her editorial work. Most of those shoots also shows how much Pre-Prod is KEY to any good editorial shoots. Lots of work and people involved in making these shoot happen. 

As for the "chosen" picture, it's kind of funny to me that the key light is to the Left of the Talent, while on most of the video, the Keylight is to the Right of the Talent. Last minute change, makes a drastic difference? 

Stephen Bushoven's picture

I saw that if you stop it @ 2:18 you can get a glimpse of the "chosen" images setup. The softlighter seems good for tight spaces like that.  

At about 2:18 you can see that the main light was swap to the other side which is the outcome of the chosen picture. Pure guess here :)

Nicholas Gonzalez's picture

I really enjoy Annie Leibowitz's work, and love BTS videos of her. I'm glad you posted it here. I've seen it before and it was very useful. I use softlighters often, so her (or one of her assistants) handy magic arm solution, inspired my own modification and made using it much easier. Instead of a magic arm, however, I connect my light stand to a Bogen reflector arm; I just took off the clamps that hold the reflector and fix an umbrella adapter to the end. There's a shot of it in my video "Outlet Maul", which was posted in a Wednesday Rundown.

Max Hodges's picture

that's not a magic arm she's using. The bar connected from head to knuckle might just be a short lightstand with the base removed.

Golgo Thirteen's picture

Man I keep sending you her clips you guys should post more. She is as big as it gets and people should see what goes in to the biggest projects. NOTHING goes into them. Its simple, but her work is in her mind. She is the technique. She uses this technique on ALL of her shoots. She also shoots with a 24-70mm canon zoom, not primes. That octa she is using costs $100. There are forums posted by her assistants and the equipment she uses is pretty cheap.

Kevin Liu's picture

at 0:21 you can see she's clearly shooting a Nikon D3 with what I think looks like a 24mm prime, not a Canon. 

Golgo Thirteen's picture

this is an old video but sure she is shooting a Nikon. Watch her newer stuff. She shoots Canon with a 24-70. Doesn't really matter, my point is she is not an equipment snob. People are amazed at her work and she uses stuff most of you have already. 

PJ Moran's picture

she was shooting for profoto, she was using a profoto octabank and profoto gear, she STILL uses profoto gear. if you can tell me where to buy this $100 profoto octabank then ill be really appreciative. 

José T.'s picture

You must be joking. Her gear is nothing but cheap. I think you're missing one zero in that octa's price.

Max Hodges's picture

>"her work is in her mind" 

I have no idea what you're really trying to say - the photo shoot didn't happen, it was just some kind of fantasy?

>"...she is the technique"
I think this kind of romantic thinking is counter-productive. Techniques are techniques. She's not some kind of magical being.

Sean Lee's picture

kind of an old one, but seriously my favorite behind the scenes of annie leibovitz ever haha

Golgo Thirteen's picture

lol, NICE! I just got my Softlighter in the mail today from B&H that I'm going to use on my Profoto D1. Glad to know I'm not a total tard for putting a $60 modifier on a $.,... light. If it's good enough for Annie, it's good enough for me!


her work is inspiring? Yes, absolutely. I truly am amazed with her WORK for years! Couple of things though:

1-She is -spray/pray- shooting for a portrait of a man who is not moving at all? (yes, it is to show how fast these $$$ lights recycle. In my opinion it would be better if they picked a photographer who shoots fast moving subjects!!

2- An artist that calibre needs a totally new wardrobe and a hairdo. She is one of the most respected fashion photographers of the world and she looks like she just got out of the bed.
Just my two cents...

I work at high speed quite often and for me its quick and fast changes of composition and ideas as I work, its more of a creative process. I wouldn't in any way call "spray/pray". The shot is planned well in advance but when the reality of it comes along, changes more often than not, need to be made. I'd like to think I'm constantly improving my shot as a shoot.

In regards to her style, I love it. It's her style, not someone else's and thats what matters. 

In addition, this is probably staged to show off the recycle speed of the packs, or perhaps it's Annie compensating for a blinking subject...?

William Jason Wallis's picture

..poor Annie. So lackluster... you know that was just to pay those huge bills she has

NIgel King's picture

I use a similar set up - but a Lastolite Reflector Bracket. This system gives you  huge amount of flexibility to maneuver the flash head. If the other side of the arm is perfectly counter weighted it is an easy one man job to change the angle to pretty much any where you want it. Highly recommended.
Nigel. - I shoot School Ball Photos.

Stephen Bushoven's picture

Of course as soon as i post this i see the comment under it. :P

Anonymous's picture

besides all her fame - and don't get me wrong, she knows how to take a picture. i don't think she sees the light. there are always artificial light sources to make the picture work. 

Anonymous's picture

She is using in one frame a Leica Medium format which the rest appeared a info commercial for Nikon though she could setup up find the right picture then the final with the medium format Leica

Actor Headshots's picture

Yah! I know Annie Leibovitz ans she is the most famous photographer in the world today. He works very professional and outstanding photo shoots she had..<a href="" rel="nofollow">Actor Headshots</a>