Photographer Kristy Leibowitz boldly trains her eye on artists and models, capturing their essence and character in ways that surprise, shock and charm. Wonderland talks to her about her tabloid and Daily Mail roots, and how a Busta Rhymes music video kickstarted her photography career.
JOURNALISM MEETS ART
First off, tell us how you went from photojournalist to photographer and artist.
I kind of fell into the journalism when I had an internship at a music video production company while I attended Parsons School of Design. I was on set for the Busta Rhymes music video and a shooting broke out where the bodyguard was shot and killed. I had photos from the set which I sold to the NY Post and then to the NY Daily News. This is when is all started and I ended up working for all the NY newspapers shooting spot news and features. Later I transferred to the Daily Mail Online, and then to Bloomberg.
Then in 2006, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black gave a conceptual concert, entitled Sound of Magic. I photographed [lead singer] Kembra Pfahler’s performance and sent them to Jeffrey Deitch. He loved them and hired me to shoot all the events at the gallery. He made many coffee table books with my photos and even included my work and collaborations with artists like Francine Spiegel in their solo shows at Art Basel and the Armory Show. I loved being able to shoot all these fields and switch it up.
Can photojournalism be art and can artistic photography be journalism?
Of course. Art can be anything, any medium, any genres. A great image can very well be artistic and a form of documenting what is happening. I capture what is happening at an event as honestly as I would capture a news story. Some of the most amazing journalistic photos are some of the most incredibly artistic ones. The photographer Richard Mosse, who is definitely one of my favorite journalists, does this very well, in his new work entitled “Infra.”
What characterizes the photography of Kristy Leibowitz?
I think my work has a distinct look to it. Everything is edgy and artsy, saturated and full of energy. It’s very energetic and moody as well.