Anna-Lou "Annie" Leibovitz (born October 2, 1949) is a noted American portrait photographer whose style is marked by a close collaboration between the photographer and the subject.
Leibovitz was one of six children and was a military brat; born in Waterbury, Connecticut. Her father was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force, and the family moved frequently when she was young. Leibovitz's mother was a modern dance instructor.
In high school, she became interested in various artistic endeavors, and began to write and play music. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute. She became interested in photography after taking pictures on a trip to visit her family in Japan. For several years, she continued to develop her photography skills while she worked various jobs, including a stint on a kibbutz in Israel for several months in 1969.
Rolling Stone magazine
When Leibovitz returned to America in 1970, she became involved with Rolling Stone magazine, which had launched a short time before. In 1973, publisher Jann Wenner named Leibovitz chief photographer of the magazine, and she remained with the magazine until 1983. Her intimate portraits of celebrities helped define the look of the magazine.
In 1975, Leibovitz served as a concert-tour photographer for The Rolling Stones's Tour of the Americas.
Vanity Fair magazine
Since 1983, Leibovitz has worked as a featured portrait photographer for Vanity Fair.
Leibovitz sued Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement of her Vanity Fair cover photograph of a pregnant Demi Moore. Paramount had commissioned a parody photograph of Leslie Nielsen, pregnant. The case, Leibovitz v. Paramount Pictures Corp., has become an important fair use case in U.S. copyright law. The court found that Paramount's use of the photo constituted fair use because parodies were likely to generate little or no licensing revenue.
Lennon and Ono
December 8, 1980 was an unusually warm day in New York City, and John Lennon was up and about early, first to his favorite haunt, Cafe LaFortuna, for his morning coffee then to the barber before returning home. He would then do an interview for the RKO Radio Network before a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz for Rolling Stone magazine. Leibovitz promised Lennon he would make the cover of Rolling Stone. and she initially tried to get a picture with just Lennon alone. She would recall that, "nobody wanted [Ono] on the cover". When Lennon insisted that both be on the cover Leibovitz then tried to recreate the kissing scene from the Double Fantasy album cover, a picture that she loved. "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 she was cold and he looked like he was clinging on to her... I shot some test Polaroids first and when I showed them to John and Yoko, 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. She was the last person to professionally photograph John Lennon.
Other noted projects
In the 1980s, Leibovitz photographed celebrities for an international advertising campaign for American Express charge cards.
In 1991, Leibovitz mounted an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery.
A major retrospective of Leibovitz's work was held at the Brooklyn Museum, Oct. 2006 - Jan. 2007. The retrospective was based on her book, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990 – 2005, and included many of her professional (celebrity) photographs as well as numerous personal photographs of her family, children, and partner Susan Sontag. This show, which was expanded to include three of the official portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, then went on the road for seven stops. It is currently (October 2007) on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. through 13 January 2008. The show includes 200 photographs.
In 2007, Leibovitz was asked by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to take the queen's official picture for her state visit to Virginia. This was filmed for the BBC documentary A Year with the Queen. A promotional trailer for the film showed the Queen reacting angrily to Leibovitz's suggestion ("less dressy") that she remove her crown, then a scene of the Queen walking down a corridor, telling an aide "I'm not changing anything. I've had enough dressing like this, thank you very much." The BBC later apologised and admitted that the sequence of events had been misrepresented, as the Queen was in fact walking to the sitting in the second scene. This led to a BBC scandal and a shake-up of ethics training.
See RDF Media#Queengate Affair.
IN 2007, the Walt Disney Company hired her to do a series of photographs with celebrities in various roles and scenes for Walt Disney World's Year of a Million Dreams campaign.
Leibovitz had a close romantic relationship with noted writer and essayist Susan Sontag. They met in 1989, when both had already established notability in their careers. Leibovitz has suggested that Sontag mentored her and constructively criticized her work.
After Sontag's death in 2004, Newsweek published an article about Leibovitz that made reference to her decade-plus relationship with Sontag, stating that "The two first met in the late '80s, when Leibovitz photographed her for a book jacket. They never lived together, though they each had an apartment within view of the other's."
Neither Leibovitz nor Sontag had ever previously publicly disclosed whether the relationship was familial, a friendship, or romantic in nature. However, when Leibovitz was interviewed for her 2006 book A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005, she said the book told a number of stories, and that "with Susan, it was a love story".
In the preface to the new book, she speaks in greater detail about her romantic/intellectual relationship with Sontag and her lesbianism, briefly discussing a book they were working on together and describes how assembling her new book was part of the grieving process after Sontag's death.
Leibovitz acknowledged that she and Sontag were romantically involved. When asked why she used terms like "companion" to describe Sontag, instead of more specific ones like "partner" or "lover", Leibovitz finally said that "lover" was fine with her. She later repeated the assertion in stating to the San Francisco Chronicle: "Call us 'lovers'. I like 'lovers.' You know, 'lovers' sounds romantic. I mean, I want to be perfectly clear. I love Susan."
Leibovitz has three children: Sarah Cameron Leibovitz (b. October 2001) was born when Annie was 51 years old. Her twins Susan and Samuelle were born to a surrogate mother in May 2005.
Selected Leibovitz photos
- Yoko Ono and John Lennon, cover of Rolling Stone: Originally intended to feature both subjects nude, Ono's reluctance led to the photograph featuring a disrobed Lennon hugging his clothed wife. Taken on the morning of December 8, 1980, this was one of the last photographs of Lennon, who was murdered by a deranged fan later in the day.
- Demi Moore has been the subject of two highly publicized covers taken by Leibovitz. The magazine featured a nude Moore who, at the time, was seven months pregnant with her daughter Scout LaRue. Moore also appeared later on the cover of the same magazine nude with a suit painted on her body.
- 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.
- 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.
- Queen Elizabeth in occasion of her visit to the US in 2007.
- Sting 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.