From Prague to Production

Annie Leibovitz wearing a Fujifilm x100 w/ a 35mm lens

After studying film for a semester in Prague, Czech Republic, I flew straight to another new city. This summer I have the opportunity to work at Annie Leibovitz Studio in New York City as a production coordination intern. Annie Leibovitz is an acclaimed photographer known for her captivating celebrity portraiture. She has been a commercial photographer for magazines such as Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. She has photographed famous and influential actors, artists, and activists including Whoopi Goldberg, Meryl Streep, and famously wrapped a shoot with musician John Lennon the same day he was fatally shot.

My work is centered around both observational and experiential learning. The photo world is unpredictable, so I have to be able to think quickly and be flexible. My duties include, but are not limited to, conducting research, prepping call sheets, sourcing locations and vendors, and administrative work. I work closely with Annie Leibovitz’s production team to get everything ready in time for the shoot. I also work with other interns throughout the week to run errands, brainstorm creative concepts, and wrap shoots.

So far it has been very eye-opening to see how much planning and organization goes into making a shoot happen. From the research of the talent to logging the costs of production, booking travel, getting all of the equipment to set, shooting, wrapping, logging everything (again), not a single day has been boring. I have had to quickly learn the specific order in which things are done in the office. Luckily, the job is not all work and no play. It has been wonderful getting to know Annie Leibovitz team. They work together as both a well-oiled machine and as a family. As a new addition to the team, it is amazing to witness it all.

I was able to attend my first shoot this week! It was a long day of prepping the set. I had to set up the hair & makeup area which included decorating it with furniture, creating a changing area, setting up lighting, and a few other bits and bobs. I was also in charge of making sure we had food and that the catering arrived on the day of the shoot. As a production intern, we also had to make sure the assistants to Annie Leibovitz had everything they needed. It was busy and everyone was running around trying to make sure everyone had everything they needed.  When the shoot wrapped, I help the photo interns take down the equipment and pack it back into the truck. Ever applied for a job and one of the requirements is to “be able to lift 50lbs or more”? Yeah, packing a photo truck requires that from you for several hours. I love that about the film and photo world: courtesy total body exercise without having to go to the gym.

Annie Leibovitz in action. This is not from the shoot I mentioned in this article.

My goal for the summer is to gain a clear understanding of the step-by-step process of set production. I also want to establish a solid foundation for professional relationships with people who share my interest in image media and production. This position will give me the opportunity to be introduced to incredibly influential individuals in the entertainment and visual media world who may be able to guide me to make the right next steps.

I am looking forward to what’s next!

Savannah Edmondson

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