Stuck at home and running out of photo ideas and new episodes of “Tiger King?” Why not accept a fun new social media challenge to try your hand at celebrity portraiture.
I love celebrity portraits. Perhaps because I spent so much of my career as a filmmaker and was fascinated by the images of actors. Perhaps it’s because I love Annie Leibovitz so much and the celebrity portrait is where she staked her claim to fame. Perhaps it was because during my time interning and assisting for Art Streiber, I saw him create iconic images for some of the best known faces in Hollywood. Or perhaps it’s simply the fact that to shoot for publications like Vanity Fair, you have to be a pretty darn good photographer. So the cream of the crop naturally rises to the top.
The Annenberg Space for Photography here in Los Angeles, also known as my “happy place,” recently launched an exhibition in conjunction with Vanity Fair to celebrate the art of celebrity portraiture in their show called “Vanity Fair: Hollywood Calling.” The show is a collection of some of the most memorable celebrity driven images ever created. I only saw the show once, as opposed to my usual multiple visits to the Annenberg Space per exhibit. Not, because I didn’t want to go back, but because, well, you know, the world pretty much came to a halt shortly after it was released and, like so many other venues, the museum has been forced to remain closed due to public safety concerns.
Here’s hoping the pandemic ends in enough time for me to take a second trip, as the exhibition played host to some of my favorite images of all time. This includes perhaps my favorite image of all time, an image taken by Norman Jean Roy of Hilary Swank, suspended in midair, in the midst of a full sprint along the beach. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to replicate this image during test shoots only to come up woefully short. The exhibit includes work from over 50 photographers including such names as Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, and Herb Ritts, just to name a few. But, just because the physical exhibit had to close temporarily, that doesn’t mean the fun can’t continue online.
As a part of the exhibition, the Annenberg Space for Photography and Vanity Fair have created a social media challenge. To participate, you are asked to go to the Vanity Fair cover archive, which can be found here. Pick a cover that you like, and attempt to recreate the image yourself. Then post your finished homage to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #CoversOfCovers and #VanityFair. Alternatively, you can also send you image via direct message to either’s social channels for a chance to participate. The best submissions will be shared by the Annenberg Space on social media. You can learn more about the competition on the Annenberg Space for Photography's website.
So, if you’re stuck at home and in need of a little creative challenge, why not give it a try?