From Annie Leibovitz's MasterClass

Case Study: Angels in America Photoshoot for Vogue Magazine

Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at Annie's photoshoot for Vogue magazine, where she captures the cast of Angels in America. Watch her and her team set up the photoshoot, effect her concept, and show the way she works with her subjects.

Topics include: Live Photoshoot


Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at Annie's photoshoot for Vogue magazine, where she captures the cast of Angels in America. Watch her and her team set up the photoshoot, effect her concept, and show the way she works with her subjects.

Topics include: Live Photoshoot

Annie Leibovitz

Teaches Photography

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The Art Of The Photo

Annie Leibovitz was the first woman to be named chief photographer at Rolling Stone and the last person to take a portrait of John Lennon. In her first online photography class, Annie shows us that what makes a picture stunning isn’t the gear or technology—it’s the story. Annie teaches you her philosophy: how to develop concepts, work with subjects, shoot with natural light, and bring images to life in post-production. See the world through her eyes.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This class has given me new ways to see and to consider the work of a photographer. Annie is gifted, obviously, but she is also a generous and insightful teacher. I will definitely revisit this class many times.

An intro to the path Annie took, sharing her impressions, passions and experiences. Making me think about what I really want to get out of my camera.

It has challenged me to stop trying to figure out every technical aspect of photography and go back and find what is it inside me that drives me. This has really changed my outlook and also freed me up from being obsessed with perfect images. Create images that resonate with me and others not technical/boring images.

It has helped me a lot to get to share the experience of someone like Annie. Ive worked in another profession but have always liked photography. And now Im dedicating to it! Love to see her passion for this art and her philosophy. Wonderful experience, thanks to the organizers and to Annie,and the development of technollogy, Agustina from Argentina.


Steve H.

It was compelling to see the kinetics of the photoshoot and the team that helped produce the final images. The staging was most creative but the actual photographs were produced by a true Master. Fun to observe!

Rob M.

I've read some of the critique below wishing that Annie was spelling out certain things like her thoughts behind this vision, technical aspects of the shoot, and so on. My belief is that this short lesson was extremely beneficial for a couple reasons. First, it reminds us of the possibility that what you think may be mundane and not very exciting can actually be transformed into something compelling. During the photoshoot itself, I saw the "angel" as the most intriguing, but in the final picture much less so. In fact, I thought it was Nathan Lane. I think this lesson is extremely thought provoking for the very reason that Annie didn't spoon feed us her thought processes. I think we're prompted to wonder more readily "what would I do if it were me?" or "how else might this have been shot?" Rewatching this episode is worthwhile because we have far more information at the end of the first viewing that can help us with insights about the beginning portion.

Michael O.

Well guys, this is pretty much what a play production photo shoot looks like. You set the time and location, and you shoot from the hip. Yes, you prep, but on location, there are so many variables, your best shot is to live in the moment, catch the unexpected, the rare, the master shot. To be fair, good theatre is always walking that edge. It's volatility is one of its ingredients. So, why would you expect a theatre photo shoot to be any less improvised or volatile. That said, although this lesson was a blast to watch, the final print was awfully stiff and stagey.

A fellow student

My son is an artist. We can take pictures of the same thing at the same time and his will be beautiful and mine will look like a snapshot. That is why I'm taking this class.

Robert C.

I know that everyone wants to know all the technicalities of this shoot. They want to know Photoshop and all the other technical aspects. I think from the beginning you realize that this is not the type of course to garner that type of information. It is designed to have a mindset, a philosophy, an attitude or a mental approach to taking photos. You have to observe and closely listen to the entire masterclass more than once to truly understand the depth and wisdom of her course.

Rane M.

I would have preferred more of the prep and post details for this shoot than the Alice Walters shot.

April B.

To me, this is not where Annie shines. Give me her gritty, raw, natural lighting and simple subject any day. She turns it into a masterpiece.

Ting K.

A nice lesson. Stunning final product. But I wish to know more about the preparation, the thought processes in deciding on the look, how she arrived at the final product.

Paul H.

I remember when I was doing Aikido many years ago, when I was at Uni. We had a quietly spoken instructor whose approach was simply to demonstrate his technique, rather than to over complicate it by over verbalising what he was doing. Annies technique is very apparent in this tutorial


Although Annie is a true master, there are much less experienced photographers on Youtube with more helpful content than this. The classes with Annie just talking about her thought process are very insightful, but this class, where we see a fairly complex shoot and no information about what is going on, was next to useless. In a previous lesson, we're told that photography is not about the equipment, and the importance of "travelling light" - yet here we see a large team and a trailer full of gear. Maybe the intention was to show that the concept is more important than the technical aspects, but even in that case there was still no discussion of the art direction, planning, etc. What are the pages Annie keeps referring to? A lookbook of photos with the target feel? Concept art sketches? A shoot schedule? Who knows. What about the photos produced? It would have been good to see how different ideas on set played out differently, but we only get one final image... In another class Annie talked about the darkroom process, and working on images, but we see nothing of the post processing of the final shot - which is clearly heavily processed. That lighting assistant seemed to be pointing the octo too high and too far from the left-most subjects for the even lighting we see in the final image, which makes me think the final shot was a composite of individually-lit shots (this is a fairly important point when it comes to lighting). I'm not trying to be critical of Annie's work, by the way. But this video was a very poor example of a class, and if I wasn't on the all-access plan I'd be questioning value for money at this point.