What's it like to shoot with Annie Leibovitz? Behind-the-scenes video offers clues

As one of the most well-known American photographers, Annie Leibovitz likely has access to resources that could make a novice photographer swoon — but a recent video showing how the iconic photographer captured a campaign for Lincoln shows how she likes to keep it real. Well, “real” may be a stretch when there’s several assistants holding fans and hair dryers to get the hair to blow just the right way, but by the end of the shoot, her models were left with an authentic impression of Leibovitz’s work.

That authenticity started with recruiting nonprofessional models — a musician, an actor, a painter, and a director. The goal of the That’s Continental campaign was to capture a road trip vibe promoting the new Lincoln Continental, and that mean each of the models actually brought some of their own stuff along for the trip, from favorite pieces of clothing to a four-legged road trip companion.

“Annie sat us down and said she preferred us to bring our own look,” said Giles Matthey, an actor featured in the shoot. “She gave us a rough outline, really, and left us to sort of play. A good director will always let you play, but guide you.”

Open to possibility. #ThatsContinental, as interpreted by Annie Leibovitz.

A photo posted by The Lincoln Motor Company (@lincolnmotorco) on Oct 17, 2016 at 9:05am PDT

The shoot aimed to capture the road trip vibe — all using locations within two hours of New York City — telling the story of four different characters.

“I’m a big fan of starting with how you dress and who you are — we’re not trying to change you or make you into other people,” Leibovitz told the models during the shoot.

In good company, wherever you go. #ThatsContinental, photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

A photo posted by The Lincoln Motor Company (@lincolnmotorco) on Oct 13, 2016 at 6:34pm PDT

But where Leibovitz’s authenticity really stood out was the way she knows how to make every shot count, said Ben Younger, a director. “She has to find that one moment in time that tells the whole story,” he said. “Yesterday, we set up a shot with Annie. It didn’t work for her and we scrapped it. [As a filmmaker], I would have just shot it thinking, ‘Oh, it’s digital now. We’re not shooting film.’ But she’s willing to walk away, which I thought was something I could learn from.”

When a change of direction changes you. #ThatsContinental, by Annie Leibovitz.

A photo posted by The Lincoln Motor Company (@lincolnmotorco) on Oct 11, 2016 at 3:06pm PDT

Leibovitz may get the gigs that novice photographers only dream of, with a crew of assistants, and an enviable gear kit including at least the Hasselblad, Nikon, and Sony shown in the behind-the-scenes video. But her goal, at least from the mouths of the models she works with, is to keep the authenticity in the story within her photos.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…
Photography

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Photography

From 11K to just OK: The biggest photo gear announcements at CES 2019

From 11K cameras to 1 TB media cards, CES 2019 brought a peek at new gear for photographers and videographers. But what photography gear grabbed our attention the most? Here are the biggest photo gear announcements from CES 2019.
Photography

Authentic, holistic, retro photography is in: Here are 2019’s predicted trends

What types of imagery are we most drawn to? According to recent stock photography data from Adobe, StoryBlocks, and Shutterstock, authentic, holistic, and humanitarian content will be in high demand in 2019.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Photography

Going somewhere? Capture more than your phone can with the best travel cams

Hitting the road or doing some globetrotting this year? Bring along the right camera to capture those once-in-a-lifetime vacation memories. Here's a list of some of our current favorites.
Photography

From 4K powerhouses to tiny action cams, here are the best video cameras

Although not as popular as they once were, dedicated video cameras still have their benefits. From travel vlogging to home movies to recording your kid's little league game, here are the best video cameras you can buy right now.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Photography

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.
Photography

Sony crams its best camera tech into the new $900 A6400

Love Sony's autofocus, but can't stomach the full-frame price? The Sony A6400 mirrorless camera uses some of the same autofocus technology and the processor of the A9 in a compact, more affordable crop-sensor camera.
Photography

GoPro bumps resolution on Fusion 360 cam to 5.6K with new firmware

Currently available in public beta, Fusion firmware version 2.0 offers a new 5.8K mode that results in 5.6K output when the 360 camera's two hemispheres are stitched together. It also adds support for 24 fps video and RAW time-lapse…