“The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.” – Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz’s early years
Annie Leibovitz is a baby boomer who traveled worldwide with her family in the Air Force taking pictures of them and where they were. By the 1960s, she was studying painting at the Art Institute of San Francisco.
Foremost portrait photographer in America
At age 23, Leibovitz became the chief photographer at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. She worked there for 13 years. By 1983 she was photographing for Vanity Fair.
Thanks to her early art education, her compositions showed painterly qualities along with a strong conceptual sense of storytelling. She did her work for iconic campaigns for The Gap and American Express.
John Lennon, Yoko Ono
Leibovitz made the last photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the Dakota on December 8, 1980, five hours before John was shot dead in front of the building (opening photo, top row, last image).
Demi Moore cover
Leibovitz was making maternity portraits of actress Demi Moore when she shot the photo of the actress, nude (opening photo, bottom row, last image). Moore suggested that the photo would be a great cover for the magazine. Tina Brown, Vanity Fair’s editor went with it. The controversial cover is iconic even today.
Another photo by Leibovitz portrays Moore in a business suit that is nothing more than paint (opening photo, bottom row, second from the last image).
Leibovitz has had a career that’s covered photojournalism, advertising, portraiture, books, exhibits and more. She has photographed the cast of the latest Star Wars movies, was the official photographer for Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Games in 1996, had the first one-woman show at the National Portrait Gallery and much more.
The video below has Leibovitz talking about her career with host Eileen Prose.
Sources: Eileen Prose interview video (above), The Guardian
More stories of inspiration photographers are in On Photography