Have you ever met someone you really admired? Someone you thought you might faint if you actually got to see? I have been lucky enough to meet several of my idols: Samantha Brown, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (when she was a Senator), Dr. Zahi Hawass, Bethenny Frankel, just to name a few. Now I get to add photography legend Annie Leibovitz to that list.
I have been in the room at events with Anderson Cooper before but if we are ever actually introduced and photographed and I remain conscious Lord help me. Rather, Lord help him. We will be doing butterfly kisses until the end of time.
But today was a big day. I met someone who I fantasize about in a different way. In these fantasies we meet, become best friends, and she takes pictures of my future and hypothetical wedding and children for free. That woman is the Queen of Photography: Annie Leibovitz. I like to say the other Queen of Photography and count myself in as one and since this is my blog I can do that. Let me tell you it is good to be the Queen.
As for Annie, she is a delight. I got my big chance to see her at the only place I go to as often as I go to work; 92Y. They were having an event to celebrate the release of her new book, “Pilgrimage”. Boy do I love that title. And I love the timing of it as it fits into my life this year. I turned 30 recently and I feel like I am on my own journey of self-discovery, different than that photographer’s but one that I can relate to. I too feel better, clearer, now knowing that I still have passion to continue working towards my dream. Annie may have a head start on me but she is my inspiration.
During her lecture I was hooked on her every word as she described the backdrop to the pictures in her book. I loved feeling like I was in on the journey. I also learned that we had a lot in common. We both photograph whatever we are drawn to. We both love textures like leaves and waves of water. All of a sudden sitting there I felt this kinship toward a total stranger and it was incredible. Every time I think of it I smile. Some how I feel like she taught me something about myself without ever having to say a direct word.
The talk was so casual like we were all friends and not a room full of fans and our idol. She even commented that she only ever took pictures for herself and that anyone else ever wanted to see them amazed her. She amazed me.
I loved how she mentioned she was only concerned with content, not equipment. Only with what moved her. This project was a mission to see if she could still find work that she felt passionate about. In the end, traveling with her children she found that she still had the love and it is contagious.
After the lecture she was gracious enough to take two hours to meet and greet anyone who wanted a personal photo and get their book signed. I found that level of kindness and attention so special. When it was finally my turn I actually wasn’t even nervous. We chatted for a few moments and in that time I have never felt so comfortable with a celebrity let alone one I have wanted to meet for so long. It was such an awe-inspiring experience. I didn’t want it to end.
Something about this event has stayed with me. I have always adored Annie Leibovitz but now I feel her presence with me. I think about what she shared about her experiences and what photography has meant to her and her life and I feel like I have a counterpart in my own pilgrimage.