"So little thought invested towards lighting": Annie Leibovitz comes under fire over Ketanji Brown Jackson's portrait photos as internet recalls Viola Davis and Simone Biles

Annie Leibovitz and her recent portrait of Ketanji Brown Jackson (Image via Hauser & Wirth/Getty Images, and voguemagazine/annieleibovitz/Twitter)
Annie Leibovitz and her recent portrait of Ketanji Brown Jackson (Image via Hauser & Wirth/Getty Images, and voguemagazine/annieleibovitz/Twitter)

On August 16, Vogue Magazine profiled Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson. The profile featured a photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

The very same day, following Leibovitz's Twitter post on the photographs, a legion of tweets criticized her use of lighting, which is reflected in the skin tone of black women like Ketanji Brown Jackson.

This is not the first time that the 72-year-old photographer has come under fire for her seemingly unthoughtful use of light.

Numerous tweets also pointed out previous instances where photoshoots conducted by Leibovitz ranked poorly when it came to pictures of black women.

Netizens slam photographer Annie Leibovitz over Ketanji Brown Jackson's portrait photos for Vogue

Apart from the heavy flak that Leibovitz received for her pictures of Ketanji Brown Jackson, numerous other tweets also accused the veteran photographer of having a bias against black women, citing her previous works featuring prominent names like Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong'o and Simone Biles.

In an attempt to point out the difference, some tweets also showcased Annie Leibovitz's photographs of white actresses like Amy Adams.

A plethora of posts called out the photographer and insinuated that there is no reason for her alleged incompetency in photographing black people, given her decades of experience as a photographer. Some even proceeded to edit the pictures in an effort to showcase how it took minimal effort to fix the lighting.

This is not the first time Annie Leibovitz has faced criticism for photographing black celebrities. In 2008, she photographed LeBron James and Gisele Bündchen for Vogue’s cover. However, the photograph drew a lot of criticism since it featured Lebron James, with his hand around Bündchen's waist. Some claimed that the picture reminded them of a King Kong poster.

Leibovitz has previously addressed the issue of lighting in photographs. In a 1992 interview with ARTnews, she mentioned:

"In school, I wasn't taught anything about lighting, and I was only taught black-and-white. So I had to learn (about) color myself."

Who is Annie Leibovitz? In brief, about experience as a photographer


Leibovitz is best known as a portrait photographer, and her most famed piece of work includes a polaroid of singing sensations John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which was featured on the Rolling Stones’ cover.

As per the reports, she began developing her photography skills from the 1960s and worked with Rolling Stone magazine from 1970 to early 1980. She then joined Vanity Fair and was associated with them from 1983. In 1998, she began her collaboration with Vogue.

According to a 2008 PBS documentary on her, she has been designated as a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress.

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