Design, Photography, & Fashion

Creating Concepts

Annie Leibovitz

Lesson time 17:52 min

Annie breaks down her process for developing imaginative and creative concepts for her photo shoots, sharing examples from Tess Gallagher, Amy Schumer, Keith Haring, Whoopi Goldberg, and more.*

Annie Leibovitz
Teaches Photography
Annie brings you into her studio and onto her shoots to teach you everything she knows about portraiture and telling stories through images.
Get All-Access

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 was fascinating to sit at the feet of Annie Leibovitz and to hear her talk about her thought processes when she prepares to photograph and then during the shoot. I loved learning about photographers who have influenced her work as well.

I took this class because I wanted to hear what Annie's understanding of photography was, to learn her approach and possibly something of her way of seeing. I feel she did a great job at explaining all that. This was a great class.

lovely photographer . i read her book about her work, watched her documentary and now in love with her way to teach.

An honor to learn from a photographer of her stature. An amazing experience. Thank you.


Laura S.

I was frustrated because it seemed to be just random discussion of her experiences. I do think there is a take away message there but I am probably not a good enough photographer yet to follow it.

laura J.

Question how many pictures are taken until she knows it is done? Does Ms. Leibovitz do her own developing the old fashion way or is it all digital?


Thanks a lot. I was so fascinated by the stories of meetings with the subjects and by the unexpected birth of ideas! In my opinion, this is what makes a photo deep and powerful.


I so appreciate you sharing your stories, I am enjoying all of your shadings, so much.

Thierry N.

I am more than happy that this Masterclass is about philosophy and humanity through photography. I finally found out why I do not enjoy taking photos of landscape or objects and why I became a wedding and portrait photographer. Annie offered me the deep reasons of my path. With all my respect. Thierry

Steve H.

I appreciated that sometimes the original concept for a portrait was replaced by the immediacy of the moment. I think that is a gift that comes with experience.

Arthur I.

I liked it. Found it easy to follow. I will try looking at photos differently.

S. M.

There were a lot of pauses with the circle in the middle of the page, which was distracting.

Sally C.

During the session, I started taking notes about various people I know, thinking about where I would want to photograph them. I like the idea of asking a woman friend of mine who is in her 90s to show me some photos of herself when she was younger. I have my ideas about her because I know her through camping and music. I'd love to have a window into her earlier life, and to see where that would take a photography session. I've never asked anyone for a formal session. This was an exciting session.

Rob M.

I think what is striking is how Annie is startlingly open in the moment with her subjects to mix it up completely and do something which to others might feel random. She seems to have an innate ability to read what her subject is comfortable with and then just run with that. (e.g. Schumer no underwear, Haring comfortable with just paint on in private so let's go to Times Square, etc.). Combining that openness to spontaneity with her level of preparedness going into the shoot is what makes the magic happen I think. Many who have prepared so diligently would not be so willing to cede control when it's time to execute I don't think. Many would try to script more of the shoot than it seems Annie ever does. This is a picture of my dear friend and high school math teacher, Hank. A lifelong learner himself, he taught for over 50 years.