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Design & Style

Working With Your Subject

Annie Leibovitz

Lesson time 8:24 min

Annie shares how she approaches working with a subject for a photo shoot, including refuting the popular notion that it's a photographer's responsibility to put a subject at ease.

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.

I got so much out of this class. I am an experienced photographer so I was mainly interested in her workflow and thought process. I loved seeing her on set and working with others. I got some amazing tips for my future shoots and just thinking about them from a different angle.

I have been working as a photographer for 10 years and i have been feeling lost in this industry. This class has help me to go back and re -discover why i choose this path. Thank you so much

I have always admire Annie, so going through her full journey was really special, thank you for this class.

Annie opened my eyes to the other side of photography. Not escaping the technical side but adding to with the knowledge of people, place, and light.


Carter G.

I would like to know how Annie goes about researching concepts and also finding locations that "mean something to the subject". I think it's a brilliant method but the video doesn't provide any guidance on how to do it.

Annette S.

Great- His name is David Dalton, (pronounced doll-ton)worked for Rolling Stone, he told me the same thing when I was taking a portrait of him.

Suzanne W.

Great ideas presented here. I also feel you need to have some sort of idea of what you want to get from a photo shoot. I'm sure the ideas also come as you start shooting photos, but a plan will make the photographer and the person relax and have fun.

A fellow student

I loved the fun you had in the fashion shoot with Ben Stiller... the humor with the very imposing models...the bathtub scene with the very rich backgrounds. So many place to look and enjoy. Also I appreciated her self awareness and learning with time. Not always having the answers. Research and ask if you don't know.

Antonia T.

Wonderful lesson. Thanks! Here is my latest post: Annie Leibovitz inspired me to shoot these portraits:

Heller G.

This has been a great series, I went ahead & did just some self portraits with my drone while we're in shelter in place. I went ahead & posted those on my blog: I liked her bedroom photos so I used the idea to peek into my bedroom. Unfortunately, my drone wanted to fly off so I didn't really get what I wanted. Practice, practice!

lucia G.

Why it doesn't work? :( I can't watch the video it says: Could not download the video Error Code: PLAYER_ERR_TIMEOUT I've been trying during all the day. Hope you can help me thank you

A fellow student

I was wondering if women have an advantage over men taking photos? I know it sexist but I thought I would ask !

Lina lyn M.

i take this photo way back april 2014.. its sunday night and we just sat down in IFC mall in hong kong sometimes i like to shoot a person that not knowing i taking photo.. thank you miss annie

Andrea P.

I feel that most people get uncomfortable in front of the camera because it forces them to be vulnerable. I've met only a few people who like their photograph taken. I find it extremely difficult to talk to people when photographing them, I prefer to capture them when they're not aware that their photo is being taken. However, if you are creating a concept around a subject, Annie's advice is really useful. In my experience, the first few images don't really count.