Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco
T-7 days until the Season 4 premiere of AMC‘s hit series Mad Men!! Working up to the July 25th premiere, I wanted to post some of Annie Leibovitz‘s photographs from her September 2009 Vanity Fair shoot with actors January Jones and Jon Hamm. Leibovitz, one of America’s foremost portrait photographers, initially studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She later delved into photography, starting with Rolling Stone magazine in 1970 and later moving to Vanity Fair in 1983. (Stay tuned for future posts on Leibovtiz’s other works!)
For many decades, photography was not considered to be an artform like painting, for example. Pressing a button to capture a subject that was already composed? How hard could that be? As an amateur photographer, I’ve realized that action photography is challenging and unpredictable, trying to capture the perfect shot in a split second. But I’ve come to understand that still life or portrait photography is equally challenging. Composing a photograph is an extremely creative process, requiring the artist to pay attention to every last detail before freezing that image in time.
In this series of photographs, Leibovitz and stylist, Michael Roberts, beautifully portray the Drapers in the 1960s, the period that defines the show, Mad Men. Leibovitz has also understood the nature of the relationship between characters Don and Betty Draper; the estrangement in their relationship is shown so well in the positioning of Hamm and Jones. You see a perfectly sculpted couple, living out the American dream in the perfect house, with perfect children and a perfect job. However, the tension of Don and Betty’s marriage is really brought out by Leibovitz – Hamm and Jones do not make eye contact in a single photograph, epitomizing the unspoken distance between their onscreen characters. Check out the photos from the shoot below.