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If Nothing Else, LeBron James Dustup Proves That Photographs Still Matter
Posted By Scott Baradell On March 28, 2008 @ 9:00 pm In Photojournalism | 11 Comments
I never figured Annie Leibovitz as a covert operative of the KKK, but apparently I’m just naive. Here’s what some commentators and bloggers are saying about Leibovitz’s magazine cover shot of LeBron James and Gisele Bundchen — the first Vogue cover featuring an African-American man:
And on and on.
So now we have to use air quotes when we call Liebovitz an “expert” on imagery, Cord? Yeesh.
Here’s what I think: the photo is the most compelling of all those taken in the shoot, and that’s why it’s on the cover. It’s striking because it draws a contrast between the fierce athlete and the elegant model. The contrast is what makes it a great picture.
If you look at the image in the context of the other photos of James and Bundchen that appear in the magazine, you’ll see mostly poses with the two subjects smiling. Less contrast; not quite as interesting. That’s it; case closed.
If nothing else, though, the controversy does reinforce the power of photography — and specifically, of the moment captured in an image. A video of the photoshoot would capture none of the drama of that photograph. A slideshow of the photoshoot would undermine the potency of that single striking image, too.
So to photojournalists who are increasingly being handed video cameras on their jobs, and who are told the future is in multimedia rather than still images, let this be a reminder that the moment does still matter.
[tags]photojournalism, LeBron James, Gisele Bundchen, Annie Leibovitz[/tags]
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URLs in this post:
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 Samir Husni: http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2008-03-24-vogue-controversy_N.htm
 Jemele Hill, ESPN: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=hill/080320&sportCat=nba
 Cord Jefferson: http://www.queerty.com/the-ape-issue-20080328/
 Bethann Hardison: http://www.wwd.com/issue/article/123777?page=0
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