Readers get really riled up when we pit photographers against one another with cover images for different magazines. Someone always asks, “How can you compare these?” We gotcha this time though because it’s Annie Leibovitz shooting the same subject for the same magazine a year apart. In other words, it’s apples to apples with the most arduous competition: herself!
Annie Leibovitz photographed Rihanna for the April 2011 issue, and I want you to notice something about the image: her red hair and tan dress. Lovely muted background near sunset. The key light is very soft and very natural, and the styling is impeccable. The dress really shows off her body, and her one-eyed expression is fantastic. I’m loving the interior photography as well. Nobody does “the snarl” better.
Fast forward to November 2012, and Annie has photographed Rihanna with a red dress and a tan background! It’s like opposite day over here! It’s looking like she’s on the savanna, which is ironic since Savannah Guthrie’s name is also on the cover. Coincidence? The light is a little more directional and harder than the April cover, and I guess it’s sort of autumnal in appearance. The inset photography is a bit too filtered for me. It’s like the Leibovitz filter got applied in Instagram or something.
Verdict: Annie wins! Er, I mean the April 2011 Annie wins. Maybe I love summer too much, but I just think it’s a more compelling image than this month’s. And what says you?