World-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz is under fire for her recent Vogue photo shoot with Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
On August 16, the famous portrait photographer tweeted two photos from the shoot that captured the newest member of the high court’s liberal bloc standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial. While some people celebrated the historic snaps of the first Black female Supreme Court Justice, others criticised the photographer for using poor lighting during the shoot.
“You can hardly see her. Please learn to light darker complexions properly,” one user wrote. Another person commented, “I’m begging you to light black women better her skin tone is not grey.” A third infuriated internet user shared their own edited version of the photos, which apparently, took them less than “5 minutes,” to brighten.
“I guess I’m not getting paid the big bucks for abject failure on a globally visible scale,” the user scoffed.
Ketanji’s historic achievements weren’t in focus, according to some users
Some internet detractors felt as though the 72-year-old portraitist took away from Ketanji’s historic achievements by showcasing Abe Lincoln’s towering statue in the background.
A frustrated Twitter user named @rosandyreel broke it all the way down for Leibovitz.
“This is horrible. How did you manage the 1). Poor lighting of this Black woman, 2). De-center her in her own narrative, and 3). Make a dead white man the center of a Black woman’s success and narrative. Vogue doesn’t have any Black women photogs who could have done this right?” the frustrated user asked.
While a second person commented:
“I understand the intended message, but I think this sends a *Lincoln freed the slaves and look what they achieved* message. A little too white saviorish, especially with that lighting.”
Internet users slam Leibovitz for taking poor photos of other Black female stars
This isn’t the first time Leibovitz has been accused of botching a photo shoot with a notable Black woman. Some social media goers were quick to point out that the celebrity photographer used the same poor lighting during her 2020 Vogue shoot with Olympic gymnast Simone Biles. And, if you remember, in 2016, Leibovitz was also slammed for delivering unflattering photos of Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o.
A Twitter goer named @ERnurse86 stitched together Leibovitz’s photos of all four stars, attempting to show the photographer’s poor track record of photographing Black women.
“Can we have a serious conversation about the way Annie Leibovitz always makes Black people look so sad and lifeless when she photographs us?” she asked. “I know she’s a lauded artist but tbh she can’t shoot pictures of Black people. I’m sorry.”
It seems like every time Leibovitz photographs Black women at the height of their careers, loud criticism and commentary often mute and muddle their historic accomplishments. This was a moment for Leibovitz and Vogue to cast a shining light on Jackson’s historic climb from serving as a judge in D.C. District Court to sitting on the Supreme Court bench, but they definitely missed the mark on this one.
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