Vogue under fire over not hiring a black photographer for Simone Biles cover photos

Jul 13, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Vogue under fire over not hiring a black photographer for Simone Biles cover photos

Jul 13, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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On its August issue covers, Vogue features the amazing gymnast Simone Biles, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. While people are thrilled to see her on the cover, the photos themselves have caused quite an outrage. People have called out Leibovitz over “poor lighting” and “washed out” skin tones, adding that Vogue should have hired a black photographer who better understands dark skin tones.

Simone Biles shared her story with Vogue in a truly fantastic interview. She spoke up about her life, training, personal struggles, and abuse. The interview is followed by a series of photos, two of which have been selected for the paper and the digital edition of the magazine.

The photos have caused quite a backlash on both Instagram and Twitter. People are calling out on Annie Leibovitz for “not knowing how to light black skin tones.” In addition, they also point out that Simone looks “sad or annoyed” in the third photo, and that the photographer “could have done so much more.” Additionally, the community is calling out on Vogue for not hiring a black photographer for the task, but also for not hiring more black talents in general.

https://twitter.com/allisonhopstad/status/1281616493851971585

On the other hand, there are some people defending Annie Leibovitz, claiming that this style of photos was intentional. The interview covers some pretty difficult topics, so the gloomy, flat tones were likely the whole point.

Seeing that most people hate these photos, I’m afraid to even say this, but I will: I actually like them. My impression is that the choice of tones, colors, and lack of contrast were intentional, considering the story that follows these portraits. They also remind me of paintings, and I think they fit well with the topics discussed. This doesn’t mean that Vogue shouldn’t hire more black talents, don’t get me wrong. But I simply like this style of photos in this context, that’s all.

What do you think? Do you like the photos and think they fit the context, or you’d totally choose someone else to shoot them in a different style?

[via Huff Post; image credits: Agência Brasil Fotografias / Wikimedia Commons]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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40 responses to “Vogue under fire over not hiring a black photographer for Simone Biles cover photos”

  1. Chainsaw Charlie Avatar
    Chainsaw Charlie

    It looks like some people have serious mental issues.

  2. Kok Yoon Lee Avatar
    Kok Yoon Lee

    Would there be complains if the photographer was a MALE African American?

  3. Safidy Andrian Avatar
    Safidy Andrian

    WTF don’t tell me a black model should be photographed by a black photographer? I agree that the photographer fucked up on the skin tone but that have nothing to do with her skin color.

  4. András Kühn Avatar
    András Kühn

    This will be such a giant hiring problem when it trickles down to the paint factory and dentistries.

  5. Marc Kievits Avatar
    Marc Kievits

    Stick to the facts folks! Comparing indoor-photo’s to sunny-outdoor-photo’s… indoor-studio always looses. I do not agree with the tone of comments (in article and here), but agree these indoor-studio-photo’s should have done beter, much beter?!

    1. Robert Hicks Avatar
      Robert Hicks

      Sunny outdoor always wins? Just admit that you’re one of the folks using natural light because strobes are complicated. Not knowing the tools of the profession makes you a failure not an artist

  6. Blaine Stiger Avatar
    Blaine Stiger

    I’ve experienced this working for a PBS station in early 2000’s. The executive for the station nixed the program bc of the director making a big deal about my skin color. It’s always been in the industry due to cause journalism.

  7. Tom Kenar Avatar
    Tom Kenar

    Lol
    So you shouldn’t hire a non white photographer if the model is white?
    ir racism only goes one way but not the other?

  8. Chuck Diesel Avatar
    Chuck Diesel

    Vogue is a “woke” company, so we will see the most patronizing apology every seen in a couple of days. Those same people didn’t complain about the terrible pictures taken of Beyoncé a few years, by the black photog did they? Annie took just as terrible pictures, but she’s not black, so it’s a travesty.

  9. Jasmijn Decuyper Avatar
    Jasmijn Decuyper

    Literally 1 of all the comments showed that they think Vogue should have hired a black photographer. 1 Person having that opinion hardly constitutes “under fire”. It’s mostly ripping on A. L.’s work, which happens every shoot she does let’s be fair. Just some clickbait title again.

    1. Vas Deferens Avatar
      Vas Deferens

      Um, and you would be wrong. Did you check the Instagram feed. One racist comment was “There was sooooooo much they could’ve done but I guess that how Annie sees us”

      That is how Annie sees us!

      And I didn’t even check the full twitter feed. So, if you think the above is ALL there is, you are very mistaken.

      Oh, and we also have to have blacks wear clothes from black designers as well!

      “4 years overdue. Didn’t dress her in any black designers. And Annie doesn’t know how to shoot darker skin tones.”

  10. armatus rebellio Avatar
    armatus rebellio

    So, they’re advocating for separate but equal then?

  11. James Smith Avatar
    James Smith

    Stupidity at it finest

  12. Peter A. Baptiste Avatar
    Peter A. Baptiste

    Speaking as a photographer myself, I withhold comment on the photoeditorial intent of the photographer, wrt the finished product.
    Speaking as a black photographer, however, I wish to categorically disagree with those who express the view that the job should automatically be given to a black photographer. I would feel less than honoured if that were to be only (or even the main) criterion on which I’m chosen for an assignment such as this. Just saying.

    1. Michael Montano Avatar
      Michael Montano

      Absolutely Jesus Christ man. Because she is black only a black photographer is allowed to shoot her? This is assanine.

  13. Stephen Baumbach Avatar
    Stephen Baumbach

    Annie shot a damn good spread. Leave it a that.

    1. Richie Vela Avatar
      Richie Vela

      Stephen Baumbach terrible shots and she’s overrated…

    2. Robert Hicks Avatar
      Robert Hicks

      Richie Vela That’s hilarious, someone making almost hundreds of dollars a year acting like Annie and the art team at vogue know less than you. You think there wasn’t an AD tethered in the whole shoot or that vogue couldn’t reshoot if the photos were “terrible”?

    3. Richie Vela Avatar
      Richie Vela

      Robert Hicks Again…
      best days BEHIND her…
      Very average photos at best…
      OVERRATED…

  14. Kevin Link Avatar
    Kevin Link

    Good photographers have their own style. Sometimes certain subjects do not represent well in that style. This is not always the fault of the photographer. It is the creative directors job to pair the right photographer to the subject. My guess Annie is under contract to shoot a certain number of covers. It’s been years since I’ve bought a Vogue magazine so I am not qualified to weigh in if this was a good cover or not.

  15. Vas Deferens Avatar
    Vas Deferens

    The Woke Mob is not demanding only blacks photograph blacks. Until EVERYONE fights back against this blatant racism, it will only continue.

    As to the photography aspect,,,,I am no pro, but I can only imagine that Annie had an intent that obviously Vogue was ok with.

  16. Martin Roth Avatar
    Martin Roth

    You’ve got to be shitting me?!?!

  17. Dirk Houghton Avatar
    Dirk Houghton

    John Atkin Seriously…

  18. g_discus Avatar
    g_discus

    Photos are crap. Not the fact that a black photographer will be better.

  19. Wabajak13 Avatar
    Wabajak13

    I saw people doing edits to make the picture ore flattering, but they all just seemed to make her skin look too red. I really like the gold cast from the background she has on the cover shot, gives it that Olympic feel. Some of the shots aren’t the greatest, but I’ve not really been a huge fan of Annie Leibowitz’s style. At least it’s not the standard “person with white background and splash of color” that most fashion shoots with darker skinned people seem to be.

  20. Davorin Palijan Avatar
    Davorin Palijan

    What bunch of idiots…cancel culture is cancer..

  21. Javier Cardona Avatar
    Javier Cardona

    Under fire by who? stop giving these racists a platform.

  22. Robert Hicks Avatar
    Robert Hicks

    Ahh checklist racism at it’s finest. How the hell are you to insinuate Annie Leboitz failed because a bunch of racists don’t like the photos and a few dozen idiots on Twitter are upset does not a movement make

  23. Robert Hicks Avatar
    Robert Hicks

    Racists care, qualifications don’t matter all the matters is the checklist

  24. Duncan Knifton Avatar
    Duncan Knifton

    never been a Annie Leibovitz anyway…..

  25. Franco Kailsan Avatar
    Franco Kailsan

    The photos do NOT look overly processed like photos in a glossy magazine but I think that is what Annie was going for. There is a ‘rawness’ to the photos. Stretch marks could be seen and the skin was kept natural without adding a reddish hue to it to make it look rosy.

    Simon is a gymnast, Annie could have made her do a lot of extreme poses that normal models cant do but on photo it would look very masculine because the muscles would bulge.

  26. Michelle Smith Avatar
    Michelle Smith

    People will start to get tired of this…

  27. Mike Eff Avatar
    Mike Eff

    BFD

  28. Paul Menard Avatar
    Paul Menard

    Is Annie shooting film? Looks abit like portra 400 maybe?.

  29. Michael Gara Avatar
    Michael Gara

    I immensely dislike the people whinging about this…. Get a life… Virtue signalling will get you nowhere

  30. Kryn Sporry Avatar
    Kryn Sporry

    Yeah, only one calls for a black photographer. The rest complains about photographic elements. Mind you, that’s probably ALL people from the 10 million that has something negative to say. The rest probably praised the photos for one reason or another.

    But as always, people who know least about the subject have the strongest opinions.

    Fits social media perfectly.

  31. brunnno Avatar
    brunnno

    Annie no good at White Balance or Black Point –

  32. Camera operator Hong Kong Avatar
    Camera operator Hong Kong

    It’s the third racist article about which color a photographer should be in order to get (or not) a job.
    Clickbait? or simple stupidity?

  33. Andrew Sharpe Avatar
    Andrew Sharpe

    Well, I like the high kick shot better than the cold, back to the camera shot. Neither are what I would consider Leibovitz’s best work. It’s a sad commentary that Vogue has such a bad track record of not using black photographers, but when choosing a photographer for a given shoot, I would hope that race (either the subject or the photographer) isn’t even a consideration. You want the best of both. But sure, if Vogue had a deeper talent pool of black photographers, and they thought one was a better photographer than Annie, or thought that person could do a better job, or could connect better with the subject, then they should have used them.

  34. zikezi Avatar
    zikezi

    I respect the personal point of view of every photographer. But in the Vogue´s article one can check what seems a clue for a critical opinion about the lightning used by Annie. Just watch the familiy group in the grass. Half of the members are clearly underexposed, with all tones messed up in clothes, teeth, hair. If something quite easy to be photographed is showed so dark we can clonclude that something weird happened in the whole shooting… or in the in-existent post processing.