Posted on August 22, 2022

Annie Leibovitz Accused of Racism

Jennifer Smith, Daily Mail, August 22, 2022

Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz has found herself in a racism row with critics of her dimly lit Vogue portrait of Ketanji Brown Jackson claiming it demonstrates her repeated failure to light black stars ‘properly’.

Leibovitz proudly shared her two photos of the Supreme Court justice on Twitter this week after they were published on Vogue’s website.

She was immediately inundated with complaints from critics who said she’d failed to properly photograph Ketanji’s skin, instead making her look too ‘dark’.

Some pointed to her past portraits of other black stars and public figures, and say she has a poor track record when it comes to showing them at their best.

The Daily Beast ran a piece today by its Race & Identity Reporter with the headline: ‘Where Did Vogue Go So Wrong With Its ‘Historic’ Ketanji Brown Jackson Pic?’

Others slammed Leibovitz on Twitter.

‘You just refuse to properly light dark skinned Black women, huh?’ one critic asked.

‘All the resources in the world and so little thought invested towards lighting dark complexions,’ said another.

‘It’s a pattern,’ fumed another, sharing links to Leibovitz’s portraits of Simone Biles for a different shoot.

Others said they ‘quickly fixed’ the images themselves with a quick round of smartphone retouching to make them lighter.

The Daily Beast cited black photographers who said they respected Leibovitz, but that a black photographer should have been given the job because.

‘For a magazine like Vogue and other top magazines…it would be nice to [use] a Black photographer. There are plenty of fantastic, capable Black photographers.’

Leibovitz’s fans however pointed out that her portrait of KBJ was no different to countless other dark, moody photographs in which the subject or subjects are white.

She used a similar style of editing in her photographs of Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family, and when she photographed Scarlett Johannsen for Vanity Fair in 2005.

Some also pointed out how Leibovitz would have inevitably been skewered for lightening KBJ’s skin and accused of whitewashing if she’d made the images any brighter or fairer.

The photographer did not immediately return’s request for comment on Friday. Vogue has not commented.

The magazine has long been dogged with allegations of racism.

In September 2020, Anna Wintour sent an email to staff saying: ‘I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators.’

It was at the height of the BLM movement, when companies across America were bending over backwards to avoid any allegation of racism.