Sunday, March 16, 2008

Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens

I just received an email from a fellow Eye e City committee member who posted a thread regarding this documentary film, Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens. It'll be showing in the upcoming 21st Singapore International Film Festival, starting 4 - 14 April 2008. For more details on the featured films, here's the agenda.

I've read about the film synopsis and have checked out on Annie's photographic work online. And I must say, her work is so unique. You can check out more of her photo gallery as well as her biography on Google Search.

This documentary about Annie Leibovitz, directed by her sister Barbara who
gives the viewer a deeper insight into the woman who has produced some of the most iconic images of the last 30 years. Barbara Leibovitz's smart documentary piece on Annie follows her evolution from art school student to one of the most influential American photographers today.

Annie worked as the chief photographer of Rolling Stone in the 1970s; her shift to portrait artist for Vanity Fair provides the timeline for the film. She has shot the rich and famous, the scholarly and powerful, the prodigious and notorious. Her versatile subjects, be it rocker Keith Richards, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Hillary Clinton, are universal in their praise: when she is allowed to follow someone, she comes up with beautiful and illuminating shots.

Her camera has also captured the horrors of war in Sarajevo and Rwanda. Consummate at exposing her photographic subjects, Annie's own life has been private and shielded. In this film, the viewer gets to follow her on a personal journey and how she balances fame, family and the camera. Barbara visits Annie at the family's rural homestead, amid the latter's hectic work on a new photographic collection. She begins to reveal, on-camera, the many layers of her sister's personality and world view. The viewer will experience Annie's current work; her losses as well as her achievements. Her private life -- uncontrolled drug abuse, a relationship with Susan Sontag, raising three children as a single mother -- is touched on in Life Through a Lens.

Another gripping documentary film, 33 Days, directed by award-winning Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri. Mai takes us beyond the cold statistics and muted news stories and right into the gritty reality and the incredible courage demonstrated by the victims of war.

Filmed during the Israeli war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, 33 Days features the real-life stories of four people: a theatre director working with children who took shelter in a theatre after their homes were destroyed, a frontline journalist for an underground television station, an aid worker who coordinated emergency relief efforts for thousands of displaced people, and a newsdesk director trying to cope with her new-born baby amid the destruction and chaos around her.

Through their creativity and courage, the film tells some of the untold stories of the survivors in Beirut.

OK I know this is not about photography but it's about film shows. So if anyone is keen in watching these 2 films, do let me know asap. I'll be booking the tickets soon. Hear you soon.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Holga Portraitures

Just want to share 2 of my Holga fotos which I took last month on the 17th. It was an organised outing with about 20 participating shutter bugs, taking turns to shoot on 3 models. The 2 young models here are Michelle and Pei Ling respectively. Obviously I missed out the first model, Angeline.

© Feb 2008 Martin Liew Photography

Pei Ling
© Feb 2008 Martin Liew Photography

In my own practice, I would usually talk to my subject, and try to get to know them better in a way or other before starting to take their pictures. Taking a good example on my photography session with Mr Mohan outside the National Stadium. In this case, I didn't do what I supposed to do but just went ahead taking numerous shots with my DSLR. Until at a certain time, when I think I'm ready to use my Holga, as when the models are more warmed up and knows what to expect from me, presumably.

Somehow I still find there are something lacked in these fotos i.e. self trueness. Overall these images are still acceptable, passed on merely as snapshots taken with a toy camera.

Holga camera is famous for its bokeh (a photographic term referring to the appearance of out-of-focus areas in an image produced by its plastic camera lens) and strong vignettes. The camera model I used is the latest range with its lens made of glass (120GN). The strong vignettes that Holga camera produces, certainly creates a whole new appearance to an image, which some people love it or just hate it.

Comparing the bokeh between these 2 fotos, Pei Ling's image is more sharper than Michelle's. It all comes down to individual photographer's focussing distance judgement. Or unless I use a rangefinder lens to determine the actual focal distance and then adjust the Holga lens accordingly, which still in turn based on estimation and perhaps luck.

Apart from the technical aspects, I did not spend too much time post-processing except retouched on blemishes and added a tinted sepia for warmer tone.