Leibovitz, Annie

American (1949-)

Annie Liebovitz (1949) is an American portrait photographer known for her close collaborations withy her subjects; they’re invited to contribute ideas, play on set and improvise for the camera in the hopes of arriving at a series of images that reveal their essence. Her work with celebrities began in 1970 as a staff photographer for a young Rolling Stone magazine; her first shot was of John Lennon. By 1973, she was chief photographer for the magazine, a position she held for ten years, while traveling with the Rolling Stones on their ’75 tour. Leibovitz 1980 picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono – names the best magazine cover of the past 40 years – was taken hours before the musician was gunned down, lending the shot an iconic aura.

But Leibovitz has done more than shoot rock stars. In the 60s, she traveled to Israel and chronicled life on a kibbutz, a Jewish agricultural commune; the experience prepared her for the ramshackle life on the road, following musicians. After her tenure at Rolling Stone, she moved to Vanity Fair, where she became known for a bold use of colors and poses, like Demi Moore’s pregnant nude. In the 90s, Leibovitz became romantically involved with writer Susan Sontag until her death in 2004, and she was introduced to a whole new world of subjects from the literary and political realms. In recent years, Sontag has bee at the center of several controversies, one involving risqué shots of Miley Cyrus and another almost costing her the rights to all her images via bankruptcy.