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.
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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.

She teaches by abstraction, asking you to embrace a way of looking that isn’t theoretical, but instead to explore humanity through your lens.

Details of the process - reaffirming you not only 'take' a photograph but you create the photograph. The raw image needs to be sculpted into how you remember it being their - especially the light.

I learnt that the concept is the most important thing - not the technical excellence

Seeing how relatable Annie Leibovitz is was a really special feeling. I'm inspired to put my fears aside and just go for it. And also to buy a 35mm lens.


Saima S.

I just love the fact that Annie, is not scared to be bold or ask her subject to be daring and be themselves. She makes them feel comfortable and is trusted. That is what I want to have, a total trust between the photographer and the subject. I feel it is necessary to get awesome shots. Enjoyed this class a lot.

Bridgid W.

This was a very powerful lesson for me - breaking ice! My neighbor who has just turned 70 and is really stunning and somebody that I have longed to photograph but did not know where to start - recently showed me a wardrobe that she had for the last 40 years and was about to “sell”... I asked first for her favorite photograph of herself and then we sat like two teenage girls and she told me the stories behind the outfits on the rack - even putting them on and modeling them for me while I clicked away happily. What an inspiration this lesson had proved to be - it has taken me two years to pluck up the courage just to ask my neighbor if I could take her photograph.....

A fellow student

I absolutely love the concept of raw photography and how to find new inspiration.

Brandi M.

She made me think of a photograph I took of my son one summer day after he had painted his binoculars and looked through them. There was only a quarter of a circle around one of his eyes and he was laughing. I still to this day see that photo as one of my favorites because as I was looking through a lens, there's a brief moment where you understand he was looking through something too...but who knows what he saw and what he was thinking, just that small quarter-circle of paint is left there around his eye.

A fellow student

i also pictured a gentleman in our church, as he was picking his banjo. natural for him to not worry about posing, just doing his thing and was there to catch it

A fellow student

wow! loved this lesson because ive always taken pictures in this natural thought. i have photographed my grandfather recently and had this raw, looking back at his younger self kind of mindset. the only way to get him to not give a grimace or a goofy look was to catch him just watching tv and drinking his beloved coffee

Andrea P.

Some people have a misconception that being a photographer is easy. Especially today, when everyone is capable of shooting "good" photos with their smartphones. But, photography is so much more than that. I feel that this lesson is really important because it's about thinking about the subject and creating a concept, a story. Research is key in any art form. Research and practice.

Gretchen B.

Just finished the second video. So far I'm really enjoying learning about the history of her photos, and what inspired them.

Barbara D.

The idea of the concept as emanating from the subject is really important. This emanation can begin through the research one does, which Annie suggests is vital. It can also emerge through the interactions one has in the photographic events.

William P.

Just finished listening to Annie talk about how her photographic style with her subjects developed. I get what she's talking about when she talks about her conflict over picking an image to represent someone. Who are we if not different phases of rising personas? Sometimes we're trying out gestures, clothing styles, friends as experiments to find out who we might be, who we might want to become. These are all sort of soundings to find out more about ourselves and what our potential is. So I think it's a useful part of portraiture to try and capture when you see a glimmering of that possible self developing in another person.