Leibovitz attacked for not photographing someone right

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
New Day Rising
New Day Rising Senior Member • Posts: 4,741
Re: What Does Simone Biles Say?

Bill Ferris wrote:

MHshooter wrote:

You mean, ultimately, the only legitimate question is, "are the photos any good?" That should dominate above all the other nonsense. But there is a concerted effort to "erase" things today, that bother people, no matter how consequential and important they are.

I'll put it like this: I think there needs to be room for discussion and respectful disagreement. And I think we, as individuals, communities and organizations can and should be open to critical feedback on efforts to address the lingering problems of racism and discrimination in the US.

I would hope folks are in agreement that racism and discriminatory practices are wrong, and would acknowledge that - big picture - our society and institutions have plenty of room for growth and improvement in this area. That said, where one stands in respect to this particular tempest shouldn't be seen as some litmus test on the big picture issues. It's not. There's an abundance of room for disagreement on the question of whether or not Vogue should have made it a priority to hire a black photographer to shoot the cover of Simone Biles.

Personally, I think there's an argument to be made that hiring Annie Leibovitz sent the message that Biles is regarded so highly by the magazine she merited paying the (no doubt) substantial fee to have one of the world's most celebrated portrait photographers do the shoot. The magazine chose a woman; a photographer known for her strong voice and perspective. Leibovitz went into that shoot to create art and wouldn't have allowed anyone to dissuade her from making a strong statement with her images. Personally, I think both women succeeded with that cover photo.

I don't disagree on principal with the criticism that more photographers of color should be hired for high profile shoots. However, I don't agree that should have been the overriding priority for Vogue in this instance. Vogue put two women with strong voices in a room and they delivered a set of images that make such strong statements, people are engaged in a robust debate about them. That's a good thing. We need more magazine covers that have the power to spark this kind of discussion.

I also believe it's important to make room for, listen to and take to heart the criticism of Vogue. One assignment doesn't define or determine whether or not a system is just. But if, at the end of the year, all Vogue's top gigs go to white photographers, that's a problem. If at the end of the year, all the magazine's top executives and decision-makers are white, that's a problem.

That's a standard we can apply to any organization...public or private. We should be willing to step back, see the big picture, and recognize where we are failing. And then do something about it. Knowing what to do and how to do it can be the hard part. No doubt, Vogue thought a Biles cover photographed by Liebovitz was and would be seen as a good choice and a step in the right direction. But just maybe, the right step is being open to criticism of those decisions. Listen to it, take it to heart and don't be offended. Oppression and injustice have gone on long enough that people, society and our institutions can be open to - even inviting of - criticism of efforts made to pave a better way forward.

Very, very well said, Bill. Such a wise, balanced and articulate contribution to debate on an issue that too frequently is overcome by emotions and ideologies that preclude debate.

I absolutely agree.

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"You should take photos of whatever you want. That's punk" - Joe Strummer

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