From Annie Leibovitz's MasterClass

Working With Light

Annie discusses her philosophy around photography equipment, working with natural light, and the value of keeping your lighting kit small.

Topics include: Using Natural Light • Working in Weather • Keeping Small Kits


Annie discusses her philosophy around photography equipment, working with natural light, and the value of keeping your lighting kit small.

Topics include: Using Natural Light • Working in Weather • Keeping Small Kits

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.

What a delightful endeavor...I appreciate learning in a way that feels natural and not forced. This class made me look at myself in a way that defines who I am as an artist now...and how that stands on the artist I have been before.

I don't think I learned as much as I expected to, but it was a nice class and it was fun to hear Annie's story.

Trust your intuition; trust your individual sense of what art is for you; go out there and work.

It has helped me a lot to get to share the experience of someone like Annie. Ive worked in another profession but have always liked photography. And now Im dedicating to it! Love to see her passion for this art and her philosophy. Wonderful experience, thanks to the organizers and to Annie,and the development of technollogy, Agustina from Argentina.


emmanuelle G.

great inspirational lesson. simple and clever advices and philosophy around natural light. no doubt the mastery requires years and years. but still, it's very helpful.

Ingrid L.

I don't believe these lessons are for true beginners. I respect Annie's work. Love to hear her stories. For me they are just stories. I'm really not learning anything. An example, what a strobe light? It would have been great to get detail on what settings to use on a camera. Or actually have her show you simple examples. Just my opinion.

Karen R.

It was interesting to experiment with the light at different times of day. I was in Tucson on vacation with my mom, so I got her to pose in front of a saguaro cactus at different times of day. The first photo (6:13 PM) is before sunset, the third is after (6:45 PM). I took photos at 8:47 and 10:25 AM and they were quite similar in brightness, though the shadow angle changed. I found that for artistic purposes (full length cactus with bright color), I liked the bright light at 8:47 AM better than the softer light before and after sunset. After sunset the colors were more gray (versus the soft warm light at 6:13 PM). However, the final photo is about 6:50 PM, and the light is soft, bright, and clear--very nice for a flattering close-up.

Rob M.

Annie seems incredibly aware of the lighting wherever she is shooting. Augment it maybe with your own, but let the natural light do the lion's share of the work. I too often ignore and just hope it works out. One exception however was when friends asked me to shoot their wedding, and I realized the vows would be exchanged in front of a big, well-lit window. Lots of glare -- ugh. I tried lots of settings before the ceremony to get rid of it but I just couldn't. Failure prompted me to give up that idea, and instead I went with them silhouettes during their vows instead.

Generoso B.

Excellent lesson - even today, I almost always default to dusk or dawn when taking photos. Those times of the day offer the richest hues in colors

Sarina R.

I love this Masterclass! We were not allowed to use a flashlight at school unless we were photographing in the studio. Since then I have only used natural light, with sometimes a bounce board. Unfortunately with some of 'if only I had done that' photo shoots. So this assignment to photograph someone at the same place at three different times is very welcome! I know I will learn so much from that. Luckily there are also pictures that I am very satisfied with <3

Rachel C.

I have fun working with lighting. Only with one small spot light. I have done other shots with combination of both natural and spot lights.

A fellow student

I respond to keeping your kit small, the ambient light manipulated if necessary with a single strobe and doing research on your subject. It all adds up to having what you need but moving with freedom and spontaneity to capture someone's essence I think.

Graeme R.

With her matter-of-fact, almost throw-away delivery, Annie shared some profound and crucial pieces of advice: It's just work. It's not about equipment. Closely observe the light, and keep the lighting simple.

Trípode A.

At some point of my photography journey, i thought about natural light as the main way of lighting. I mean, nature is a big thing, and all the beautiful scenes we see from it, need nothing more than the sun, the moon, the stars. I still learning from it, but consider that, even if it is the most familiar way of appreciate things, or the mistress of illumination, there are other techniques to explore. Even though, it's amazing.