Anna-Lou “Annie” Leibovitz is an American portrait photographer and was born on October 2, 1949, in Waterbury, Connecticut. She is best known for her engaging portraits—particularly of celebrities—which often feature subjects in intimate settings and poses. She photographed John Lennon on the day he was murdered, and her work has been used on numerous album covers and magazines. She became the first woman to hold an exhibition at Washington’s National Portrait.
I have featured some of her work in other posts, like her Vanity Fair Star Wars covers. Anyone who reads Rolling Stone Magazine will recognize many of her cover shots. After living briefly on an Israeli kibbutz, the statuesque Leibovitz returned to the United States and applied for a job with the start-up rock music magazine Rolling Stone in 1970. Impressed with Leibovitz’s portfolio, which included an image of counter-culture icon Allen Ginsberg, editor Jann Wenner offered her a job as a staff photographer. Within two years, the 23-year-old Leibovitz was promoted to chief photographer, a title she would hold for the next decade. Her position with the magazine afforded her the opportunity to accompany the Rolling Stones band on their 1975 international tour, though she lost herself from the experience and ended up grappling with a crippling drug addiction.
In 1983 she began working for Vanity Fair. It is nearly impossible to capture the extent of her work over the past 50 years. Her contribution to Hollywood and the arts, is unmatched. Leibovitz is credited with making many Rolling Stone covers collector’s items, including an issue that featured a nude John Lennon curled around his fully clothed wife, Yoko Ono. Taken on December 8, 1980, Leibovitz’s Polaroid of the former Beatle was shot just hours before his death. She also did famous award winning advertising campaigns and calendars. Queen Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela, The Obama’s, and just about every famous actor or musician of our generation has been photographed by Annie. I have included a link to peruse some of the more famous shots.
Annie and Demi Whoopi And the Queen
Her book, Women, 1999, featured women of the Supreme Court to Las Vegas Showgirls, farmer’s and coal miners. In 2003 she released a book American Music. She was the chief photographer of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. As busy as ever, Leibovitz continues to be in demand as a photographer, working on projects that range from a 2014 Marcs & Spencer advertising campaign to the 2016 calendar for the tire manufacturer Pirelli. For the latter, Leibovitz chose to feature mostly clothed women from a variety of backgrounds and ages in contrast to the images of scantily clad models from previous calendars.
Leibovitz is also the mother of three children. At the age of 51, she had her daughter, Sarah. In 2005, twin daughters Susan and Samuelle were born with the help of a surrogate mother. Leibovitz and Susan Sontag were in a 15-year relationship that ended with Sontag’s death in 2004.