Ryan Adams photo by Annie Leibovitz.
Could there be anyone cooler to have for a photography teacher than Annie Leibovitz? The 59-year-old lens master, known best for her intimate, idiosyncratic portraiture work for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, is not drawing up lesson plans quite yet. But her latest book, Annie Leibovitz at Work (Random House), details her career, some of her most famous photo shoots, and includes a section on equipment and questions that budding photographers frequently ask her. If her previous work, A Photographer’s Life: 1990–2005, was a penetrating look into Leibovitz’s personal and work lives, At Work narrows the focus to meaningful moments of her 30-year career.
“I thought of it as a primer or text for a young photographer,” says Leibovitz, over the phone from Manhattan. The book is not a rigid must-have and must-do set of rules for would-be shooters, but rather a loose collection of thoughts and lessons Leibovitz has learned over the years.
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A still from E.J. Barnes’ animated short, The Leatherwing Bat
Last Saturday’s mixed-bill affair at the Papercut Zine Library was a strange hybrid of contemporary salon, multimedia talent show, and impromptu modern-dance class (with instructions to move our bodies “like fire”). Around these parts, such an event may be possible only at Papercut, the volunteer-staffed ‘zine-lending venue that occupies the creaky, wood-paneled first floor of the Democracy Center on Mount Auburn Street in Harvard Square.
At first, wandering in felt like trespassing on a stranger’s house party. Folding chairs littered a back room where the performances took place, the audience strolling in and out in the course of the evening. Unpretentiousness was a theme of the night. When Zine librarian Rachel Suskewicz instructed us to sing along with one of her sparse folk tunes, we did so ungrudgingly. After her set, a man in a gray hoodie assured us with endearing concern: “In case you’re confused, don’t leave yet! There are plenty more acts to come.”
And there were.
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From the Phlog, yesterday:
1. As soon as Obama uttered the words: “Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House,” on November 4, a certain subset of people (you know, just smaller media outlets, like the San Francisco Chronicle and Reuters, and pretty much everyone else who was tired of covering real news. BORING!) stopped thinking about this year’s “historic” election, and what it meant about race in America, and how Obama will tackle the many, gargantuan problems awaiting him in the White House. Nope, they were thinking about puppies, and in particular what kind of puppy the Obama family should adopt as first dog. An ambitious seventh-grader from Conway, N.H. has already penned a letter to Obama, asking him to adopt from the Conway Area Humane Society shelter. A canine club in Peru has offered up a hypoallergenic, Peruvian hairless dog. Apparently, a golden doodle is also in the running.
2. The Brickbottom Gallery, in Somerville, is opening a show on December 4 called “Best in Show: Artists and Their Dogs.” The show will run through January 10, with a reception on December 7 from 4-6 pm. Here’s an irresistible sneak peak. It’s a pastel painting called “Cleve in the Grass,” by David Sholl:
3. Have you seen the puppy cam!? If you’ve got anything to do for the next few weeks, cancel it. This is much better. Nothing can top watching grainy, live footage of a couple of five-week-old Shiba Inus puppies. (Gawker called it “a fantasty [sic] that cures us of our free-floating anxiety in an uncertain world.”) They sleep! They snuggle! They roll around and trip over each other! I actually laughed out loud with delight last night, when one of them sleepily stood up, then promptly, and clumsily collapsed on another dozing puppy nearby. I’ll stop trying to explain it, though. Just watch, here.