Photographer Annie Leibovitz was born October 2, 1949, in Waterbury, Connecticut. In 1970 she took a job at Rolling Stone magazine. In 1983 she began working for the entertainment magazine Vanity Fair. During the late 1980s, Leibovitz started to work on a number of high-profile advertising campaigns. From the 1990s to the present, she has been publishing and exhibiting her work.
Rolling Stone magazine
Photographers such as Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson influenced her during her time at the San Francisco Art Institute. “Their style of personal reportage – taken in a graphic way – was what we were taught to emulate.”
On December 8, 1980, Leibovitz had a photo shoot with John Lennon for Rolling Stone, promising him that he would make the cover.She had John remove his clothes and curl up next to Yoko. Leibovitz recalls, “What is interesting is she said she’d take her top off and I said, ‘Leave everything on’ — not really preconceiving the picture at all. Then he curled up next to her and it was very, very strong. You couldn’t help but feel that he was cold and he looked like he was clinging on to her. I think it was amazing to look at the first Polaroid and they were both very excited. John said, ‘You’ve captured our relationship exactly. Promise me it’ll be on the cover.’ I looked him in the eye and we shook on it.” Leibovitz was the last person to professionally photograph Lennon—he was shot and killed five hours later.
Leibovitz claims she never liked the word “celebrity”. “I’ve always been more interested in what they do than who they are, I hope that my photographs reflect that.”
“I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”
“I sometimes find the surface interesting. To say that the mark of a good portrait is whether you get them or get the soul – I don’t think this is possible all of the time.”
In 1983, Leibovitz left Rolling Stone and began working for the entertainment magazine Vanity Fair. With a wider array of subjects, Leibovitz’s photographs for Vanity Fair ranged from presidents to literary icons to teen heartthrobs. To date, a number of Vanity Fair covers have featured Leibovitz’s stunning – and often controversial – portraits of celebrities. Demi Moore (very pregnant and very nude) and Whoopi Goldberg (half-submerged in a bathtub of milk) are among the most remembered actresses to grace the cover in recent years. Known for her ability to make her sitters become physically involved in her work, one of Leibovitz’s most famous portraits is of the late artist Keith Haring, who painted himself like one of his canvases for the photo.
Examples of Leibovitz’s photographs
John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the Jan. 22, 1981 Rolling Stone cover, shot the day of Lennon’s death.
Linda Ronstadt in a red slip, on her bed, reaching for a glass of water in a 1976 cover story for Rolling Stone magazine.
Demi Moore has been the subject of two highly publicized Vanity Fair covers taken by Leibovitz: More Demi Moore (Aug. 1991) featuring Moore pregnant and nude, and Demi’s Birthday Suit (Aug 1992), showing Moore nude with a suit painted on her body.
Fleetwood Mac for a 1977 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood are shown lying together, as are Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham at the opposite end of the bed. John McVie is shown reading Playboy magazine.
Whoopi Goldberg lying in a bathtub full of milk, shot from above.
Christo, fully wrapped so the viewer must take the artist’s word that Christo is actually under the wrapping.
David Cassidy on the Rolling Stone cover depicting him naked from his head to his waist.
Dolly Parton vamping for the camera while Arnold Schwarzenegger flexes his biceps behind her.
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, as The Blues Brothers, with their faces painted blue.
Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson, both nude, with a fully clothed Tom Ford, for the cover of Vanity Fair’s March 2006 Hollywood Issue.
Knut with American actor Leonardo DiCaprio, a 2007 Vanity Fair cover.
Queen Elizabeth II on occasion of her state visit in United States in 2007.
Jackie and Joan Collins in a limo, Los Angeles 1987.
Sting, with whom she shares a birthday, naked in the desert, covered in mud to blend in with the scenery.
Closeup portrait of Pete Townshend framed by his bleeding hand dripping real blood down the side of his face.
“Fire” portrait and caption “Patti Smith Catches Fire”.
Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual and True Colors album covers
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A. album cover
Gisele Bündchen and LeBron James on the April 2008 cover of Vogue America.
Miley Cyrus’ Vanity Fair photo in which the child star appeared semi-nude, leading to a controversy.
Michael Jackson twice for the cover of the Vanity Fair magazine, including other additional photographs of him which were not featured on the cover of the magazine.
Bill Gates for the cover of Gates’ book “The Road Ahead”.
Family of Barack Obama in the White House.
Johnny Depp and Kate Moss at the Royalton Hotel, New York in 1994. A nude Moss laying on a bed while fully clothed Depp is lying between her legs, covering her abdomen.
Lance Armstrong riding his Trek Madone bicycle in the buff in the rain. It was shown in Vanity Fair’s 1999 December issue.