2 Born in 1949 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Annie Leibovitz enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute intent on studying painting. It was not until she traveled to Japan with her mother the summer after her sophomore year that she discovered her interest in taking photographs. When she returned to San Francisco that fall, she began taking night classes in photography.
3 In 1970 Leibovitz approached Jann Wenner, founding editor of Rolling Stone, which he’d recently launched and was operating out of San Francisco. Impressed with her portfolio, Wenner gave Leibovitz her first assignment: shoot John Lennon.
4 For the portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Leibovitz imagined that the two would pose together nude. Lennon disrobed, but Ono refused to take off her pants. Leibovitz “was kinda disappointed,” according to Rolling Stone, and so she told Ono to leave her clothes on. “We took one Polaroid,” said Leibovitz, “and the three of us knew it was profound right away.” The resulting portrait shows Lennon nude and curled around a fully clothed Ono. Several hours later, Lennon was shot dead in front of his apartment. The photograph ran on the cover of the Rolling Stone Lennon commemorative issue. In the American Society of Magazine Editors named it the best magazine cover from the past 40 years.
5 Two years after the John Lennon photoshoot, she was named Rolling Stone chief photographer. While with Rolling Stone, Leibovitz developed her trademark technique, which involved the use of bold primary colors and surprising poses.
6 When the magazine began printing in color in 1974, Leibovitz followed suit. Among her subjects from that period are Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, and Patti Smith. Leibovitz also served as the official photographer for the Rolling Stones’ 1975 world tour. While on the road with the band she produced her iconic black-and- white portraits of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, shirtless and gritty.
7 Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, the photographer’s first book, was published in The same year Leibovitz joined Vanity Fair and was made the magazine’s first contributing photographer. At Vanity Fair she became known for her wildly lit, staged, and provocative portraits of celebrities. Most famous among them are Whoopi Goldberg submerged in a bath of milk and Demi Moore naked and holding her pregnant belly.
8 Leibovitz claims she never liked the word "celebrity" 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.
9 During the late 1980s, Leibovitz started to work on a number of high-profile advertising campaigns. The most notable was the American Express “Membership” campaign, for which her portraits of celebrity cardholders, like Elmore Leonard, Tom Selleck, and Luciano Pavarotti, earned her a Clio Award.
10 Leibovitz is still living and working today Leibovitz is still living and working today. In 1991, she was the first woman photographer to have an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She has won many awards and continues to publish books about her life and work. In her most recent publication she says, “I don’t have two lives,” she writes in the book’s introduction. “This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it.” Still, she told the Times, this book is the “most intimate, it tells the best story, and I care about it.”
21 Questions for Discussion 1. Why do you think Leibovitz is one of the most well known photographers of our time?2. What makes her work so unique?3. Which of the photos we’ve seen today appeals to you most and why?4. Do you think Leibovitz photographing 15 year old Miley Cyrus nearly nude is appropriate? Why or why not?