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Annie Leibovitz

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Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz
Born Anna-Lou Leibovitz
(1949-10-02) October 2, 1949
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Nationality American
Education San Francisco Art Institute
Known for Photography

Anna-Lou "Annie" Leibovitz (; born October 2, 1949) is an American portrait photographer.

Early life

Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on October 2, 1949,[1] Anna-Lou Leibovitz is the third of six children.[2] She is a third-generation American whose great-grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe. Her father's parents had emigrated from Romania.[2] Her mother, Marilyn Edith, née Heit, was a modern dance instructor of Estonian Jewish heritage; her father, Samuel Leibovitz, was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force. The family moved frequently with her father's duty assignments, and she took her first pictures when he was stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War.[3]

At Northwood High School,[4] she became interested in various artistic endeavors, and began to write and play music. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute,[4] where she studied painting. For several years, she continued to develop her photography skills while working various jobs, including a stint on a kibbutz in Amir, Israel, for several months in 1969.[5]


Rolling Stone magazine

When Leibovitz returned to the United States in 1970, she started her career as staff photographer, working for the just launched Rolling Stone magazine. In 1973, publisher Jann Wenner named Leibovitz chief photographer of Rolling Stone, a job she would hold for 10 years. Leibovitz worked for the magazine until 1983, and her intimate photographs of celebrities helped define the Rolling Stone look.[5] While working for Rolling Stone, Leibovitz became more aware of the other magazines. Richard Avedon's portraits were an important and powerful example in her life. She learned that she could work for magazines and still create personal work, which for her was the most important. She sought intimate moments with her subjects, who "open their hearts and souls and lives to you". [6] She was awarded The Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography in 2009.

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."[6]

The Rolling Stones

Leibovitz photographed The Rolling Stones in San Francisco in 1971 and 1972, and served as the concert-tour photographer for Rolling Stones Tour of the Americas '75. Her favorite photo from the tour was a photo of Mick Jagger in an elevator.[7]

Joan Armatrading

In 1978 Leibovitz became the first woman to photograph Joan Armatrading for an album. She did the photography for Armatrading's fifth studio album To the Limit, spending four days at her house capturing the images.[8] She also did the photography for Armatrading's 1979 live album, Steppin' Out.

John Lennon

On December 8, 1980, Leibovitz had a photo shoot with John Lennon for Rolling Stone, promising him that he would make the cover.[9] She had initially tried to get a picture with just Lennon alone, which is what Rolling Stone wanted, but Lennon insisted that both he and Yoko Ono be on the cover. Leibovitz then tried to re-create something like the kissing scene from the Double Fantasy album cover, a picture that she loved. She had John remove his clothes and curl up next to Yoko on the floor. 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."[10] Leibovitz was the last person to professionally photograph Lennon—he was shot and killed five hours later.[11]

The photograph was subsequently re-created in 2009 by John and Yoko's son Sean Lennon, posing with his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl, with male/female roles reversed (Sean clothed, Kemp naked),[12][13] and by Henry Bond and Sam Taylor-Wood in their YBA pastiche October 26, 1993.

In 2011, Leibovitz was nominated alongside Singaporean photographer Dominic Khoo and Wing Shya for Asia Pacific Photographer of the Year.

Other projects

  • In the 1980s, Leibovitz's new style of lighting and use of bold colors and poses got her a position with Vanity Fair magazine. Leibovitz photographed celebrities for an international advertising campaign for American Express charge cards, which won a Clio award in 1987.
  • In 1991, Leibovitz mounted an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. She was the second living portraitist and first woman to show there. Leibovitz had also been made Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government.[11]
  • Also in 1991, Leibovitz emulated Margaret Bourke-White's feat, when she mounted one of the eagle gargoyles on the 61st floor of the Chrysler Building in Manhattan, where she photographed the dancer David Parsons cavorting on another eagle gargoyle. Noted Life photographer and picture editor John Loengard made a gripping photo of Leibovitz at the climax of her danger. (Loengard was photographing Leibovitz for The New York Times that day).
  • 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 was on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., from October 2007 to January 2008, and at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco from March 2008 to May 2008. In February 2009 the exhibition was moved to Berlin, Germany.[14] The show included 200 photographs.[15] At the exhibition, Leibovitz said that she doesn't have two lives, career and personal, but has one where assignments and personal pictures are all part of her works. This exhibition and her talk focused on her personal photographs and life.

In 2007, The BBC misrepresented a portrait shooting by Leibovitz of 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 tiara, 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."[16] The BBC later apologized and admitted that the sequence of events had been misrepresented, as the Queen was in fact walking to the sitting in the second scene.[17] This led to a BBC scandal and a shake-up of ethics training.

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." She tries to receive a little piece of each subjects personality in the photos. [6]

On April 25, 2008, the televised entertainment program Entertainment Tonight reported that 15-year-old Miley Cyrus had posed topless for a photo shoot with Vanity Fair.[20][21] The photograph, and subsequently released behind-the-scenes photographs, show Cyrus without a top, her bare back exposed but her front covered with a bedsheet. The photo was taken by Leibovitz.[22] The full photograph was published with an accompanying story on The New York Times' website on April 27, 2008. On April 29, 2008, The New York Times clarified that though the pictures left an impression that she was bare-breasted, Cyrus was wrapped in a bedsheet and was actually not topless.[23] Some parents expressed outrage at the nature of the photograph, which a Disney spokesperson described as "a situation [that] was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines".[23]

In response to the Internet circulation of the photo and ensuing media attention, Cyrus released a statement of apology on April 27:

"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."[23]

Leibovitz also released a statement saying:

"I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted," Leibovitz said. "The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little makeup, and I think it is very beautiful."[23][24]

In October, 2011, Leibovitz had an exhibit in Moscow. In an interview with Rossiya 24, she explained her photography style.[25]


Since 1977, Leibovitz licensing images have been represented by Contact Press Images, a photojournalism agency based in New York City. She ceased to be represented by Jim Moffat at A Corporation for Art & Commerce in 2009.

Personal life

Leibovitz had a close relationship with writer and essayist Susan Sontag from 1989, until Sontag's death in 2004. During Sontag's lifetime, neither woman publicly disclosed whether the relationship was a friendship or romantic in nature. Newsweek in 2006 made reference to Leibovitz's decade-plus relationship with Sontag, stating, "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."[27] Leibovitz, when interviewed for her 2006 book A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005, said the book told a number of stories, and that "with Susan, it was a love story."[28] While The New York Times in 2009 referred to Sontag as Leibovitz's "companion",[29] Leibovitz wrote in A Photographer's Life that, "Words like 'companion' and 'partner' were not in our vocabulary. We were two people who helped each other through our lives. The closest word is still 'friend.'" [30] That same year, Leibovitz said the descriptor "lover" was accurate.[31] She later reiterated, "Call us 'lovers'. I like 'lovers.' You know, 'lovers' sounds romantic. I mean, I want to be perfectly clear. I love Susan."[32]

Leibovitz is Jewish and nonobservant. Asked if being Jewish is important to her, Leibovitz replied, "I'm not a practicing Jew, but I feel very Jewish."[2]


Leibovitz has three children. Her daughter Sarah Cameron Leibovitz was born in October 2001 when Leibovitz was 52 years old.[33] Her twins (two girls) Susan and Samuelle were born to a surrogate mother in May 2005.[32]

Financial troubles

In February 2009, Leibovitz borrowed $15.5 million, after having experienced financial challenges,[34] putting up several houses as well as the rights to all of her photographs as collateral.[35] The New York Times noted that "one of the world's most successful photographers essentially pawned every snap of the shutter she had made or will make until the loans are paid off,"[34] and that despite a $50 million archive, Leibovitz had a "long history of less than careful financial dealings" and "a recent series of personal issues" including the loss of her parents and the 2004 death of Sontag, as well as the addition of two children to her family, and controversial renovation of three Greenwich Village properties.[29]

The Greenwich Village properties, at 755-757 Greenwich Street, are part of the Greenwich Village Historic District, meaning that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission must review and approve any work done to the buildings. However, work initiated on the buildings in October 2002, without a permit, began a chain of destruction of those buildings and the neighbor’s at 311 West 11th Street.[36] Due to pressure from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and other groups, the buildings were finally stabilized, though the preservation group criticized the eventual repairs as shoddy and historically insensitive. [37]

In July 2009, the Art Capital Group filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Leibovitz for $24 million regarding repayment of these loans.[38] In a follow-up article, In early September 2009, an [39] On September 11, Art Capital Group withdrew its lawsuit against Leibovitz, and extended the due date for repayment of the $24 million loan. Under the agreement, Leibovitz retains control over her work, and will be the "exclusive agent in the sale of her real property (land) and copyrights".[40]

In March, 2010, Colony Capital concluded a new financing and marketing agreement with Leibovitz, paying off Art Capital and removing or reducing the risks of Leibovitz losing her artistic and real estate.[41] The following month, Brunswick Capital Partners sued Leibovitz, claiming that it is owed several hundred thousand dollars for helping her restructure her debt.[42] That December 2012, Leibovitz listed her West Village townhouse for sale at $33 million, stating she wanted to move closer to her daughter.[43]

Examples of Leibovitz's photographs

Leibovitz in front of her More Demi Moore Vanity Fair cover photo, 2008


  • 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication.[71]


  • Photographs
  • Photographs 1970–1990
  • "Dancers: Photographs by Annie Leibovitz"
  • "White Oak Dance Project: Photographs by Annie Leibovitz"
  • Olympic Portraits
  • Women
  • American Music
  • A Photographer's Life 1990–2005 (catalog for a traveling exhibit that debuted at the Brooklyn Museum in October 2006)
  • Annie Leibovitz: At Work
  • Pilgrimage
  • "Annie Leibovitz" (SUMO-sized book with 250 photographs with a supplementary book featuring essays by Annie Leibovitz, Graydon Carter, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Paul Roth)


  1. ^ "Annie Leibovitz Biography: Photographer (1949–)".  
  2. ^ a b c Lambert, Angela (March 3, 1994). "Talking pictures with Annie Leibovitz". The Independent (London). Retrieved July 8, 2010. 
  3. ^ Cooke, Rachel (February 3, 2008). "How I shot my sister Annie ...". The Observer (London). Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. Retrieved June 10, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b "Annie Leibovitz Career Timeline". American Masters (WNET). January 3, 2007. 1964: Attends Northwood High School in Silver Spring, Maryland 
  5. ^ a b "Annie Leibovitz Biography". bookrags. Retrieved July 19, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c "Annie Liebovitz: Always in Style". 
  7. ^ Leibovitz, A. (2008).At Work. New York City, NY: Random House. ISBN 978-0-375-50510-2
  8. ^ Mayes, Sean (1990). Joan Armatrading – A Biography (unauthorised). Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-81058-8 page 86
  9. ^ "Hours After This Picture Was Taken John Lennon Was Dead". Guardian Unlimited. December 8, 2005. Retrieved July 26, 2007. 
  10. ^ "Issue #335 (Jan. 22, 1981)" (Audio).  
  11. ^ a b Yoko Ono (August 9, 2008). Annie Leibovitz - Life Through a Lens (DVD). ICA. a heavy weight fate was waiting for us only...four or five hours later 
  12. ^ Sean Lennon And Nude Model Recreate John And Yoko (NSFW PHOTO), Huffpost, 2009-09-02
  13. ^ John Lennon, Sean Lennon - Two Versions of "Two Virgins" (sic – incorrect; Two Virgins is unrelated) – side-by-side comparison
  14. ^ From 21 February to 24 May 2009 at the C/O Gallerie.
  15. ^ Associated Press, 21 October 2007, article by Lubna Taknuri
  16. ^ Reuters (July 12, 2007). "BBC sorry for misrepresenting Queen". ABC News. Archived from the original on 18 July 2007. Retrieved July 19, 2007. 
  17. ^ "Broadcaster sorry for queen claim". CNN. Associated Press. July 12, 2007. Archived from the original on July 13, 2007. Retrieved July 19, 2007. 
  18. ^ "USATODAY Photo Gallery". Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  19. ^ Keck, William (January 25, 2007). "'"Disney's dazzling 'Dreams. USA Today. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  20. ^ Miley Knows Best, Vanity Fair, June 2008
  21. ^ "Miley Cyrus topless controversy". April 28, 2008. Archived from the original on 1 May 2008. Retrieved April 27, 2008. 
  22. ^ Stephen M. Silverman (April 27, 2008). "Miley Cyrus: I'm Sorry for Photos". Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved April 27, 2008. 
  23. ^ a b c d Brook Barnes (April 28, 2008). "A Topless Photo Threatens a Major Disney Franchise". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 28 April 2008. Retrieved April 29, 2008. 
  24. ^ "'"Annie Leibovitz: 'Miley Cyrus Photos Were Misinterpreted. April 28, 2008. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage".  
  27. ^ Cathleen McGuigan (October 2, 2006). "Through Her Lens". Newsweek. Archived from the original on October 25, 2007. Retrieved July 19, 2007. 
  28. ^ Janny Scott (October 6, 2006). "From Annie Leibovitz: Life, and Death, Examined".  
  29. ^ a b Salkin, Allen (July 31, 2009). "For Annie Leibovitz, a Fuzzy Financial Picture".  
  30. ^ Brockes, Emma. "My time with Susan". Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  31. ^ Tom Ashbrook (October 17, 2006). "On Point". Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved July 19, 2007. 
  32. ^ a b Guthmann, Edward (November 1, 2006). "Love, family, celebrity, grief -- Leibovitz puts her life on display in photo memoir".  
  33. ^ "Annie Leibovitz"
  34. ^ a b Allen Salkin (February 24, 2009). "That Old Master? It's at the Pawnshop". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2009. 
  35. ^ Hatch, Jennifer. "Advocates: Leibovitz's Loss | Finance". The Advocate. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  36. ^ "Timeline of Damage to Leibovitz Properties". Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Letters from GVSHP to LPC". Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  38. ^ Allen Salkin, "Lender Sues Annie Leibovitz", The New York Times, July 30, 2009
  39. ^ "Debts closing in on photographer Annie Leibovitz, Associated Press, September 5, 2009, published in AT&T on-line news, retrieved September 5, 2009". January 1, 1985. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  40. ^ "CNN, "Lawsuit against Annie Leibovitz dropped", CNN, 11 September 2009". September 11, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  41. ^ "Private equity firm snaps up chance to help Leibovitz put house in order" by Henny Sender, Financial Times, March 9, 2010 02:00. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  42. ^ The New York Times, April 6, 2010 02:00. Retrieved 2010-04-10.
  43. ^, December 10, 2012 Retrieved 2012-12-10.
  44. ^ "1980 Rolling Stone Interview With John Lennon by Jonathan Cott". Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  45. ^ Rolling Stone cover: January 22, 1981
  46. ^
  47. ^ "at 25: The Covers | Culture". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  48. ^ "Marion Cotillard for Lady Dior by Annie Leibovitz". August 21, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2014. 
  49. ^ "Cast Of "Nine" Vogue Magazine November 2009". PopCrunch. October 9, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2014. 
  50. ^
  51. ^
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  54. ^ 1.bp
  55. ^ "Johansson, Knightley Bare All for Mag Cover". Fox News. February 22, 2006. 
  56. ^ "Fans mourn death of polar bear Knut".
  57. ^ "British Embassy in the United States". Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  58. ^ "Irish Independent". 
  59. ^ PBS
  60. ^
  61. ^ RS 270 (July 27, 1978)
  62. ^ "Patti Smith Catches Fire". Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  63. ^ %time%. "Cyndi Lauper". Cyndi Lauper. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  64. ^ %time%. "Cyndi Lauper". Cyndi Lauper. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  65. ^ "Bruce". Bruce June 4, 1984. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  66. ^ Some Call LeBron James' 'Vogue' Cover Offensive, News & Notes, 2008-03-27
  67. ^ LeBron James' 'Vogue' cover called racially insensitive, USA Today, 2008-03-24
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^ Hamish Bowles (April 2014). "Kim Kardashian and Kanye West: Keeping Up with Kimye". Vogue. Retrieved April 6, 2014. 
  71. ^ Annie Leibovitz. Premios Príncipes de Asturias, 2013

External links

  • A Photographer's Life
  • BBC Offers Apologies For Showing Film Of Angry Queen
  • Art Directors Club biography, portrait and images of work
  • covering John Loengard's gripping photo of Annie Leibovitz photographing atop an eagle gargoyle on the 61st floor of New York's Chrysler Building in 1991.Gaga Over a Gargoyle, article of February 2008, pp. 10–12, SmithsonianDavid J. Marcou's
  • (Russia) 2011The St. Petersburg TimesA Photographer's Life at The Hermitage, Interview,
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