Vogue magazine just published new photographs of United States Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. The photographs were taken by Annie Leibovitz at the Lincoln Memorial in DC, and are currently being subjected to some very well-earned critique. And it's not the first time Leibovitz has been critiqued for not photographing Black women well.
Critics—consisting mostly of Black women—quickly noted how poor the lighting was in the pictures and how it wasn't properly suited for Brown's darker skin tone. Leibovitz has been critiqued for her past portraits of dark-skinned Black women including her 2020 Vogue cover images of Simone Biles as well as her Vanity Fair portraits of Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong'o.
For example, one critique of the photos of Jackson focuses on Leibovitz's inability to step outside of the white gaze:
The Guardian's Tayo Bero powerfully asserts that "Leibovitz's photographs are what happens when Blackness is seen through a white gaze incapable of capturing its true beauty" and that "Black women can be photographed beautifully in their most natural state without making their features look sad, washed out and completely unnatural."
Candace McDuffy at The Root explains that it is way past time to hire Black photographers instead of continuing to rely on Leibovitz, who continues to show she's not the right person for the job of photographing Black subjects:
There is a plethora of Black talent waiting to be called on to photograph Black subjects, so why is Leibovitz constantly being regarded as the default when its been proven time and time again that she simply can't deliver?