From Annie Leibovitz's MasterClass

Case Study Part 2: Digital Post-Production

Annie gives you an exclusive look into her digital post-production process, and shares her thoughts about what it means to be a photographer and creative artist.

Topics include: After the Shoot • The Screen vs. a Print • Final Thoughts


Annie gives you an exclusive look into her digital post-production process, and shares her thoughts about what it means to be a photographer and creative artist.

Topics include: After the Shoot • The Screen vs. a Print • Final Thoughts

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.

It has inspired me to keep using my camera to tell stories and interpret the world in which I live.

"Inspiration", this is the one word, that I will say.

I enjoyed the class tremendously and relished in the time to listen to such a phenomenal talent. Annie is very humble but such a fabulous artist. I will heed her suggestion to look back on photos from my youth and rediscover what matters. Thank you.

It's just so great listening to somebody so good and watching them as they sorta lead you gently by the hand in their thought process as Annie does here. Thank you, i loved it!


Mark W.

I feel like as soon as the camera crew left she went back to whacking her Photoshop serf with that pointy stick.

Graeme R.

Very disappointed in both the production and post-production processes. Special peaches, special trees, big crews, and then it's "all in the post." Is it any different than any other advertising photographer (and her/his team) working in New York? And the concept seems obvious and banal. Where's the creativity? Where's the art? Then again, Alice Waters's publicist may have nixed the other ideas.

Yuko H.

I love how she bends the "rules" in order to bring her vision to life. It makes her work so organic and real

Jim C.

I like hearing her thought process. It is a bit like the old dark room days when the photographer would have an expert lab tech that translated what they wanted in the darkroom. Except now she has someone who fulfills the ideas in PhotoShop or whatever program. I have had an internal thought struggle in the past of "If others are doing your PhotoShop or developing, is it yours or part theirs? " It comes down to who has the artistic vision and if those helping to create it are tools, assistants, or collaborators.

Kenton M.

Short lesson.... however, it does show how she edits and thinks every time after a shoot!

Amelia D.

I think keeping her face in the shadow was a brave choice, and part of why she is who she is. She's thinking creatively not just focusing on a set of rules and mindlessly adhering to them.

Janice L.

The thing about post production is that you can have thousands of iterations of one photograph by simply changing up some of the variables like contrast, sharpness, color etc. When I first started photographing, I used to make all sorts of changes but I’ve found that I don’t have the patience and I’d rather make a few necessary tweaks and then call it a day because you can tweak it forever. Tweaking it too much can also leave it looking over produced.

Charles B.

She likes dark imagery, or is hired to produce darkened imagery. Just before the lesson ended, the image on the left had more appeal to me.

Rick L.

I enjoyed this lesson a great deal. I particularly liked watching her process at arriving what she wanted. I would love to have my on photoshop person haha I converted to digital about ten years ago and am still spending most of my education time on learning photoshop. These lessons are guilty pleasures. I am fascinated by her vision on this image. It was remarked below that it was not done right, Alice's face is too dark and the eyes go to the lighter area of her dress. The traditional part of me kind of agrees, however, knowing who Annie is, I looked up the photo and spent maybe a half hour looking at it. Most people I would think would go with the lighter upper area and less shadow on Alice which is of course why Vanity Fair hired Annie. So, I looked and looked and as I did so I noticed my eyes continually moved back up to her face. Alice has a strong enough face, personality, and presence that it demands one returns to her face over and over even if that for a second the lighter area snags your attention. This is why I am taking this course, I learned something. Thanks, Annie.

William F.

The session did not mention what software was being used. Maybe this is obvious to schooled photographers, but not me. What digital editing software package or packages does she recommend?