Design, Photography, & Fashion

The Technical Side of Photography

Annie Leibovitz

Lesson time 12:34 min

In this chapter, Annie shares how she approached transitioning from film to digital, and what starting out in the dark room can teach you. Annie also shares her perspective on focus and sharpness—and how above all else it's the content that matters.

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.

Inspirational story from a talented and fascinating woman. I'm not a photographer but I will take some of the lessons and use them in my field as a designer

This is what a "master" can give you; the concentrated perspective of her approach to her endeavors. You may find you didn't realize you were trapped in a box until she shows you the door you had failed to notice.

I now know more about Annie's point of view about how to approach photographic content but not much about how to create this amazing images with beautiful composition.

This class rekindled my passion for why I do what I do as a photographer. I was completely compelled by it.


Bridgid W.

Of great interest as I derive from a Camera Club background. Posting photographs on a monthly basis and having them “judged” one gets caught up in chasing grades and technical standards and missing out to some degree on creativity. Debates on post editing (graphic design) vs pure photography reign supreme and we forget... it is easy to forget. The ultimate is the image. Breaking boundaries; rules; blindfolded; exploring; being inspired - I knew I had to crack open the cocoon in order to fly....

Matthias H.

SILVER vs. DIGITAL - for many a clash of religions but in essence just different ways of working and finally if you really like the photograph you made why bother which way it was made?

Matthias H.

Like when she says „depth of field I never understood...“. Coming from the technical side my composition has a lot to do with where blur and sharpness appear in that square we fill with feelings. It is liberating that you can forget about all these technical details and all that gear.

Dulce L.

I agree, I feel the same why about digital. I also started with film; Kodachrome and Black and White film; it was sharper; I had a hard time transitioning. There were limitations, and the learning process to me was easier than digital images as an art; as simple art in regard to editing. But yes, one can do a whole lot more in removal and manipulation in digital, without relying on an artist like we did in the past; both are wonderful and slightly different mediums, with different learning and understanding. Thank you for this class; helping me get back into my photography again.

A fellow student

This class is very disappointing As an architect I know how important is the conceptual side of arts, but I also know the importance of the technical side of your tools. I hoped that at least one of the lessons would give a basic idea of how to use a camera. In this lesson Annie mentioning technical terms as if we already learnt and understand them. In general this class is disappointing as it doesn't even seem she teaches us, it's more like a very regular Netflix documentary.

Renee M.

I loved this lesson. Sharpness is something (as a new photographer) I have been spending time thinking and reading about. It made me feel good to know that other photographers are having the same thoughts with digital.

Paul C.

Here's another one I had fun playing with the DOF. Notice how JUST the anther of the flower is in focus...

Paul C.

I liked the lesson, though I have not done the blind assignment yet. I have done blind photos before, and have one that is totally blurry of my friend and her family members, but I still like it. For me, I'm opposite from Annie in that I enjoy playing with depth of field, and have done so since using an original Polaroid Land camera when I was a boy. One of my favorites is attached, and I like how you can see the gradual focus change which sets it apart from fake Bokeh.

Graeme R.

Content is absolutely paramount. I love much of Annie Leibovitz's work, but it's clear from listening to her that she is profoundly ignorant of photographic technology. So many technically proficient photographers produce boring, empty work, devoid of ideas and emotion.

Graeme R.

Kodak did not discontinue manufacturing Kodachrome until 2009, not the 1970's as Annie stated.