Annie Leibovitz is an American portrait photographer. Born in 1949 in South Dakota, Annie Leibovitz masters in photographing portraits. Her father was in the US Air Force and her mother was an instructor of contemporary dance. The family had to move often from one place to another due to her father’s job. During this time, while the Vietnam War was on, she captured her first images in Philippines. While studying at Roosevelt High School, Leibovitz became fascinated by different artistic activities, and started to play and write music. She learned painting in San Francisco Art Institute. At this time she became influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank. Whilst working at various places, she kept on developing her photographic skill.
In 1970, Annie Leibovitz began her career working for the Rolling Stone publication that had just came into the market. She worked as a photographer there. Three years later, Jann Wenner promoted her to the Head photographer post in the same magazine and she maintained this post for a decade. While working there, she became introduced to other magazines as well. Richard Avedon‘s work was a powerful and an important influence in her professional life. She figured that she could spend time on her own work while working for publications.
In 1978, she became the first female to take pictures of Joan Armatrading for To the Limit, his album. After 2 years, she took photos of John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the Rolling Stone magazine. She was the last to photograph him professionally before he was shot dead.
Leibovitz was hired by Vanity Fair when they admired her new approach towards using vivid colors, and lighting in 1980s. In 1987, she received the Cilo award for photographing celebrities for an American Express campaign.
In 1991, the National Portrait Gallery exhibited her work. She was the first female and second portraitist to show her work there. The French Government made her Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
From 2006 to 2007, Annie Leibovitz did a major exhibition at Brooklyn Museum. Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life (1990), her book, became the foundation of this retrospective. The show included her celebrity photos, family images and pictures of Susan Sontag, her partner. It also included three official photographs of Queen Elizabeth II. The exhibition was also shown in Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art and in San Francisco’s Palace of the Legion of Honor. The exposition was then moved to Germany.
In 2007, she was hired by The Walt Disney Company to take a series of pictures of celebrities posing in different scenes and roles for a Disney Park‘s campaign, Year of a Million Dreams.
One year later, Entertainment Tonight, a television program, reported that Miley Cyrus at 15 years of age posed half nude for a Vanity Fair photo shoot that was conducted by Annie Leibovitz. The full photo accompanied by an article were published in The New York Times and it was clarified that the young celebrity was wrapped in a bed sheet and she was not entirely topless. The spokesperson from Disney described the situation as an approach to sell the magazines. Towards the photo, many parents were outraged and soon both Cyrus and Leibovitz made apologetic statements.
The archive of her work is with Contact Press Images in New York since 1977 who represents her licensed photographs.