After the 72-year-old photographer posted two photos of Jackson on her Twitter account, she received a lot of backlash. One commenter wrote: “Please learn how to properly light up dark-skinned people.” Others demanded that Vogue, who took the photos, stop hiring Leibovitz to photograph black people.
In particular, they consider the fact that Jackson’s skin appears gray due to poor lighting and is nearly impossible to see in the photo with the Abraham Lincoln statue in the background. British newspaper journalist Watchman Tayo Perova also stated that some critics were bothered by the very composition of the picture, the center of which is Lincoln, not the judge. Bear adds context: “Brown Jackson was photographed marking her appointment, while the man who made it possible for a black woman to hold the position in the first place stands high above her head.”
Two years ago, Leibovitz was also criticized for pictures of African-American gymnast Simone Biles. According to journalist Perova, the photos of singer Rihanna or Serena Williams did not work as well. At the same time, she is convinced that the photographer’s intention is not to photograph dark-skinned women in a way that does not look good. “Leibovitz is best known for her portraits of world leaders, athletes or Hollywood stars, and she has captured many of them with similar ‘dark’ aesthetics. The problem is that she is able to beautifully capture white people in this way. But for black men and women, this style is simply not appropriate.”
This was also demonstrated by some Twitter users who hastily edited the photo of Judge Jackson on a computer or even on an iPhone. Her skin was suddenly not gray, but caramel. “If you can’t light dark people properly, at least learn how to edit,” one user told a photographer who, according to him, worked on the photo for 30 seconds in Lightroom.
The edit below took 30 seconds in the Light Room. If you can’t learn how to properly light blacks, at least learn how to edit them properly. pic.twitter.com/8LRmVfAGvr
– James (@Jamestoupin) August 18 2022
Perova singled out The Guardian’s Taylor Mitchell, who in 2018 became the first-ever black photographer to photograph for Vogue. “That in itself is shameful and shows a severe lack of diversity in the magazine. Why are they still reaching out to Leibovitz for work when she is clearly unable to photograph dark-skinned people, and there are so many talented black photographers sitting in her corner?” he asked. She wrote, “There are many ways to capture the beauty of a black woman, but what Leibovitz does simply isn’t.”
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