Vogue magazine is facing criticism for its August issue, which features black gymnast Simone Biles on the cover. Critics are unhappy about both the style of the photos and the fact that world-famous Jewish photographer Annie Leibovitz took them instead of a dark-skinned photographer.
The gymnast’s photographs were criticized by a wide range of voices almost immediately after their publication. For example, New York Times photo editor Morrigan McCarthy and Black Women Photographers founder Polly Irung are among those who dislike them.
“After all the Black talent jumping out with #VogueChallenge, Vogue couldn’t hire a Black photographer to shoot this cover of Simone Biles?“ Irung wrote on her Twitter account.
After all the Black talent jumping out with #VogueChallenge, Vogue couldn’t idk hire a Black photographer to shoot this cover of Simone Biles? https://t.co/6N5Oac56Su
— Polly Irungu (@pollyirungu) July 9, 2020
Critics have taken most offense to the lighting of Biles’ photos. According to them, the photos are dark and muted. They would have preferred it if the magazine had hired a black photographer both from an ethnic point of view and because, according to the critics, they would know how to lighten black skin.
“Why didn’t a Black photographer photograph Simone? Talented black photographers, designers, and stylists could work wonders for you all. It’s not enough to just put Simone on the cover,” wrote Morgan L. Sykes in response to a tweet from Vogue magazine.
Why the fuck didn’t a Black photographer photograph Simone? W all due respect, Im soooo tired of the predictable snooze fest Annie Leibovitz delivers. Talented Black photographers, designers, & stylists could do wonders for y’all. It’s not enough just to give Simone the cover.
— Morgan L. Sykes (@morganlsykes) July 9, 2020
Many people and some photographers, however, have defended the work of Leibovitz. They point to an article to which the photographs belong, as it is a grim profile in which the influence of the trial of doctor Larry Nassar, who was accused of sexually harassing more than 250 young girls and women, on Biles’ career is described. According to them, this topic required darker photos.
Annie Leibovitz is a well-known American photographer of Jewish descent who previously worked in magazines such as Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. She became famous for portraits of American celebrities and politicians. For example, Barack Obama, Elizabeth II, Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga, and John Lennon with Yoko Ono have all stood in front of her camera.
Title image: The August cover of Vogue magazine (Vogue Magazine Twitter)