Annie Leibovitz accused of racism after legendary photographer was accused of repeatedly failing to ‘properly’ light black female subjects after dark Vogue portrait of SCOTUS judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
- Leibovitz proudly shared her two photos of the Supreme Court justice on Twitter this week after they were posted on the Vogue website
- She was immediately inundated with complaints about their blackness
- Some have accused her of repeatedly failing to light the black stars “properly”
- They compared the images to other dimly lit Leibovitz photos of Simone Biles and Viola Davis
- Leibovitz’s dark and brooding style is well known and it is also how she edited portraits of the Queen and the Royal Family.
Renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz has found herself in a racist row with criticism of her dimly lit Vogue portrait of Ketanji Brown Jackson, saying it demonstrates her repeated failure to light the black stars “properly”.
Leibovitz proudly shared her two photos of the Supreme Court justice on Twitter this week after they were posted on the Vogue website.
She was immediately inundated with complaints from critics who said she hadn’t photographed Ketanji’s skin properly, making it look too “dark” instead.
Some have pointed to her past portrayals of other black stars and public figures, and say she has a poor track record when it comes to showing them at their best.
Annie Leibovitz’s portrayal of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson sparked controversy this week, with some accusing her of not illuminating KBJ’s dark skin enough
Leibovitz proudly shared the photos on Twitter this week after they were posted in Vogue online
Criticism of the photo was immediate on Twitter and on Friday The Daily Beast also condemned the portraits
The daily beast published an article today by its Race & Identity Reporter with the title: “Where did Vogue go so wrong with its ‘historic’ photo of Ketanji Brown Jackson?”
Others criticized Leibovitz on Twitter.
“You just refuse to properly light dark-skinned black women, huh?” asked a reviewer.
“All the resources in the world and so little thought invested in illuminating dark skin tones,” another said.
“She’s a role model,” fumed another, sharing links to Simone Biles’ Leibovitz portraits for a different shoot.
Others said they “quickly corrected” the images themselves with a series of quick smartphone touch-ups to make them clearer.
The Daily Beast quoted black photographers who said they respected Leibovitz, but a black photographer should have been named for that reason.
Others said that Leibovitz tended not to properly light black female subjects.
They used photos where black women were lit more vibrantly to try to show how they thought Leibovitz had ‘failed’
“For a magazine like Vogue and other big magazines…it would be nice to [use] a black photographer. There are a lot of fantastic and capable black photographers out there.
Leibovitz fans, however, pointed out that his portrayal of KBJ was no different from countless other dark, brooding photographs in which the subject(s) are white.
She used a similar editing style in her photographs of Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family, and when she photographed Scarlett Johannsen for Vanity Fair in 2005.
Some also pointed out how Leibovitz would inevitably have been accused of lightening KBJ’s skin and accused of bleaching if she made the images brighter or fairer.
Similarly, a flat light can be seen in Leibovitz’s 2016 portrait of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.
She has used dark editing in photos for years. Above, Scarlett Johansson in Vanity Fair in 2005
The photographer did not immediately return DailyMail.com’s request for comment on Friday. Vogue had no comment.
The magazine has long been dogged by allegations of racism.
In September 2020, Anna Wintour emailed staff saying, “I want to make it clear that I know Vogue hasn’t found enough ways to elevate and give space to editors, writers, photographers, designers and other black creators.”
This was during the heyday of the BLM movement, when businesses across America went out of their way to avoid any allegations of racism.
Leibovitz with Vogue executive Anna Wintour