Thursday, May 5, 2016


Lewis Bush over on disphotic deconstructs an Official Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and her grandchildren. He's got a lot to say, some interesting, some less so. My response boils down to "sometimes, Lewis, a picture is just a picture. Or mostly, anyways."

What I noted specifically here, though, is something I never had before. That distinctive Annie Liebovitz look with the people popped off the background by lighting (and, probably, compositing) is incredibly painterly. The background isn't actually out of focus, or just sketched in as a few line, but it is wildly de-emphasized, and often kind of monochromatic.

I feel rather stupid, since in hindsight it's absurdly obvious.


  1. I too read Disphotic's commentary on the Leibowitz, and agree with you that the photo is very painterly. It's partly the formality of the composition, the formality of the furnishings and partly the colour palette. But it's also the complete lack of any sense of 'togetherness' or famil(iarit)y in these disparate figures. It's not really a photograph at all.

    What I find odd is the compositional imbalance: As the most important figure present, Her Maj is bang in the middle of the horizontal, but dominated by the very tall girl standing to her right. The figures together form a scalene triangle, causing me to mentally crop the left side of the frame. All that wasted space, AND, sin of sins, there's barrel distortion present too. Time to open Photoshop ...

    Tut tut. Perhaps Annie Liebowitz is too immportant for

  2. @ericke:

    Judging by the photo at hand, as well as most of her other recent work that I've seen, Photoshop has already been opened and used both extensively and obviously.

    'Tis a pity, too, because I really liked the photos she was creating two and three decades ago, but not so much the ones she (and her very large team of assistants) are creating today.

  3. I find the punctus of this photo are the mirrors, reflecting themselves, and the repeated clocks, suggesting very much that the royal family is somehow eternal.


  4. Now you mention it, Nigli, are those mirror reflections natural? I'm no good at working these things out

  5. Hi ericke, yes. Next time you are in a hairdressers you should be able to see for yourself.