Friday, 24 October 2008

Celebrating Leibovitz at the NPG, London

My Brother Philip and My Father, Silver Spring, Maryland, 1988,, Photograph � Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz, My Brother Philip and My Father, Silver Spring, Maryland, 1988
Photograph © Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz
A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005

16 October 2008 - 1 February 2009
Over 150 photographs by the celebrated photographer, encompassing well-known work made on editorial assignment as well as personal photographs of her family and close friends. Courtesy : The National Portrait Gallery, London

Now and then, a brilliant retrospective exhibition comes through London. The last one to my mind was Diane Arbus at the V&A. The organisers even built a replica of Arbus's darkroom and study with all her notes, jottings and books just as she had left it after her tragic suicide.

Brad Pitt, Photograph © Annie Leibovitz

With Leibovitz, I can imagine seeing some of her most notable pieces ( I haven't managed to get round it yet as it just opened and I will be leaving London for a few weeks, so it will have to be a pre-Christmas date for me) like Demi Moore's pregnant nude shot, the atmospheric QE portraits, Schwarzenegger in his birthday suit, the elegant dance studies of Baryshnikov, the shy Bette Midler submerged in a bath full of red rose petals.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Photograph © Annie Leibovitz

Aside from the glamorous celebrity portraits she shoots during her time at Vogue and Vanity Fair, Leibovitz's more poignant work can however be found in her close 'snaps' of her close friend and companion, critic and writer, Susan Sontag. Especially powerful are her black and white shots taken in documentary style, of Sontag's final days in hospital and at home after battling cancer for several years.

Susan Sontag, Photograph © Annie Leibovitz

A must-see...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Heads Up : KL PHOTO AWARDS 2009

''Call for entries''

Working in association with Time Out KL, the fast growing city listings magazine, and we are proud to announce the launch of the first KL PhotoAwards 2009 for contemporary photographic portraiture. The competition seeks to discover new interpretation of the much photographed genre of 'portraiture' within the practice, and is open to all participants from Malaysia and the surrounding nations.

There will be 2 categories of entry : Professional and Non-Professional and each participant is required to submit up to 6 images either singly or in a series title. The deadline is a long way away, 1 March 2009, so put on your thinking caps, get that dusty camera off your shelf and get cracking! We've made entry as simple as possible, no need to get your images printed and rely on the post, all registration and image entries are done online. So there's no excuse.

More info at or at

Oh, did I mention the prizes...? Top winners in each categories get USD3,000 and USD1,500 respectively with a couple of runners-up prizes thrown in. All winners get a specially commissioned trophy too and of course..fame and glory, for what's it worth.

So, just what is a portrait? It is so many things to so many people.

Is it just a pretty girl in swimwear or a desperate beggar by the roadside? Is it a drug addict's sombre look, or a happy bride in white? Is it a homeless family living in the Manila slums, or handsome Rolls Royce chauffeur in peak cap in Hong Kong. Looking for empathy, emotion, connection and all that stuff you learnt at workshops and schools.

The event will culminate at the Awards Presentation Evening to be held at The Annexe Gallery on the 7 May 2009 along with an exhibition of the top 40 images.

SO pass the word around and challenge your peers, your nation, and your country to a portrait shootout!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Doom or Bloom?

Yesterday's headline makes chilling reading, and this credit crunch situation which started when US banks took on high risk housing debts over cheap loans have been sending shock-waves across the global financial world. Several banks in Europe and UK have been 'saved' by their governments, ie. tax payers monies. Yes, mine and yours.

All is not lost however, some sectors like the food and communication industries are actually in profit, and of course, the petroleum industry. As I post this, we await what tomorrow's headline will bring, and the world's attention will be focused on news from America, where the lawmakers arms are being twisted again to agree with what the President has outlined in his USD700 billion 'saving' strategy.

I wonder how much is Iraq and Afghanistan still costing US tax payers today.