Design, Photography, & Fashion

The Evolution of a Photographer

Annie Leibovitz

Lesson time 11:29 min

Learn how Annie’s artistic journey impacted her evolution as a photographer—from the inspiration of family photos to the San Francisco Art Institute and Rolling Stone. *Lessons marked with an asterisk contain images with nudity.

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.

This class has shown and confirmed to me that I'm on the right path in life. It has shared how one can view the world through and image. That you should truly focus on the images that mean something to you and just go ahead and put the work in. Without caring about what others think. Thank you to master class and Thank you to Annie for sharing such beautiful insight and stories. -Evan Thomas

I learned so much from master class to become a photography and I can't wait to impress friends and family with my skills

Start with your family; they are important to you, and their photos will last longer than them.

it's inspiring. makes you want to look at your work and question and look for honesty in what you're doing.


Master B.

Annie Leibovitz: Excellent Lessons on the Importance of "AuthenticPhotography".

Amelia Sarah H.

I loved Annie Leibovitz's course - it's why I signed up for Masterclass. Favorite line: "You have to be a bit obsessed to do this." (might be paraphrasing a smidge) It's true - there's always more to learn, more to see, more to photograph, more to edit, more to review. If you're not obsessed, you're sunk. "Photography gets you outside --- it gives you permission to go outside and LOOK." When I was a little girl I was always getting scolded for staring. My parents would say, "Don't stare! It's rude." And I'd say, "I'm not staring, I'm looking." Now that I always have a camera in my hands, I have permission to LOOK, to Stare, to carefully See. And that's pure joy. The attached photo is an image from spontaneous shoot on a beach in Costa Rica with a friend of mine who is a spanish-born african-trained musician and mystic. It just 'happened' and opened up a whole new phase of shooting for me. On the trip I was just taking some time off from the 'work' of photography and allowing myself time to just Play. That's often when the magic happens. Thank you for being a constant source of inspiration. Namaste, Amy Hart

Cassandra K.

For many years, I have been a huge fan of Annie’s and enjoyed referring to her photography books for inspiration. I was also a painting major that slipped into the photography field because it was a pathway to be energetic, explore the outdoors and work with many people. After watching Annie’s MasterClass, I feel so good knowing I went for it, a career in portrait photography. Annie is spot on her topics of discussion and to this day, she is still one of my favorite photographers and mentors. Thank you Annie and MasterClass for this special gift and learning tool! I wish you were in my life 30 years ago...but you’re here now! Simply awesome!

A fellow student

One of the tough things about this series is that it is more a series of Annie doing person interviews of her life. She is an amazing photographer and is a natural. Sometimes those at the apex of the industry are unable to instruct as they didnt have to learn the industry because it came to them naturally. Even when she does a lesson on editing and speaks to an editor who taught her how to edit she doesnt share one of her learnings. Here she tells about framing and that she learned from the Art Institute, but doesnt give one key lesson she found valuable. She talks about pushing the boundaries of framing but not one specific learning on how she pushed it. What does she find compelling? I can see that the people working with her tried to put in more substance by going with her to a wonderful shoot. Instead of Annie talking about what she sees and how she changes it, we see her shooting the shots saying things like, "...looks great...yeah...move your foot forward..." And then the end result.

A fellow student

A lot of the comments seem to say that they haven't learned a lot, and I think it may be, because their development as a photographer isn't at the professional level. I've been creatively stuck in a rut, and wanted to come back to the reasons why I loved photography, Annie has really pushed some buttons for me. I was ready to pull the trigger today on a whole lot of equipment, "because I was a photographer that used the kind of equipment" - but now im not so sure. Because is photography really about shooting 20 flashes or is it an artistic pursuit?

A fellow student

listening to her improved my soft skills as a photographer but i was here really to understand the hard skills, feels like i wasted my hard earned money. :-(

Chris O.

Annie enriches the world of photography in a way I have never experienced before. If the amazing Karl Taylor is the Engineer of Photography, Annie is the Philosopher. She has added an unmissable dimension to my understanding of the art of photography.

A fellow student

So in general, this masterclass, was pretty disappointing. Nothing new I’ve personally learned. It’s always interesting to hear Annie talk. But honestly, the masterclass itself doesn’t go deeper than the « surface -

Maham K.

The first two links in ch. 15--on the brief history of the camera-- are not working. Can someone update this? They both lead here:


Annie is a very interesting teacher and subject. Personally, I just wish the rest of the course had shared more of what Annie can singularly give (vs. general photography). And I liked the last chapter the most: "The Evolution of a Photographer". In which she actually shares her valuable insight.