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Woman at Work

It’s one of those books, a ‘must read’ that you don’t. You buy it and park it on the bookshelf, every few weeks it catches your eye and you think ‘I really must sit down and read that book’. Maybe it’s because Annie Leibovitz’s pictures are so familiar (if you have any interest in rock n’ roll or fashion you’ll know them) that the desire to dive in and read all about them had been eroded slightly, familiarity, after all, often leads to apathy.

So, after many months of avoidance I eventually picked it up and got stuck in and it proved to be a real treat. The glory of ‘At Work’ lies in the insight Annie offers into the capture of her wonderful images. She explains the story of each not from a heavily technical point of view (though there are technical bits) but more like a groovy Aunty that you’ve found yourself beside on a winters night.

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Of course the shots are of various heavy weights of celebrity in it’s various guises; rock stars, politicians, models, jump off the page but in the confines of this book they feel more intimate  and because none of the images are reproduced full bleed you become more engaged with them than you would seeing them in glossy magazine print. Kicking off with her 1974 coverage of Nixon’s resignation and on through her career to the portraits of the Queen in 2007, Leibovitz lets us into her practice and explains how she views the work and the process.

From Mick Jagger in a lift to Whoopi Goldberg in a bath of milk, all her most famous shots are there; Demi Moore’s pregnancy may be the most recognisible of all but for me her two portraits of William S. Burroughs will always be her finest images, intimate, insightful and warm.

By Conor

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