The Leibovitz family moved frequently with her father’s duty assignments in the U.S. Air Force and Annie took her first photos when they were stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War. Leibovitz studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute and after a summer trip to Japan with her mother, she began taking night classes in photography and developed her skills as a photographer. Early influences include Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
In 1970, Leibovitz approached the editor of the recently launched Rolling Stone Magazine for employment. Her first assignment was a photo shoot with John Lennon and her photo appeared on the January 1971 issue. Leibovitz was named chief photographer two years later.
In 1980, Leibovitz was sent to photograph John Lennon and Yoko Ono and created the now-famous Lennon nude curled around a fully clothed Ono. Several hours after the photo shoot, Lennon was shot and killed. The photograph ran on the cover of Rolling Stone Lennon commemorative issue and in 2005 was named best magazine cover from the past 40 years by the American Society of Magazine Editors.
In 1983, Leibovitz became a contributing photographer for Vanity Fair magazine and became known for her provocative celebrity portraits including Whoopie Goldberg, Demi Moore, Brad Pitt, Ellen DeGeneres, Queen Elizabeth II, and countless others. Her portraits have also been featured in national media including Vogue, The New York Times, The New Yorker, as well as media ads for American Express, the Gap, and the Milk Board.
Leibovitz began a long-term romantic relationship with writer Susan Sontag in 1989. Sontag had a strong influence on her work including her photos documenting the Balkan war in Sarajevo and Women, a book they published together in 2000. The couple lived apart but maintained a close relationship until Sontag’s death in 2004.
Leibovitz has received numerous awards including a Commandeur des Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government as well as designation as a living legend by the Library of Congress. In 1991, she had her first museum show at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. – a show that toured internationally for six years.
With several book publications under her belt, Leibovitz’s most recent book A Photographer’s Life: 1990-2005 features her trademark celebrity portraits as well as personal photographs from her own life.
Leibovitz has three children, Sarah Cameron who was born when Leibovitz was 51 years old, and twins Susan and Samuelle who were born to a surrogate mother in May 2005.
To see more of Annie Leibovitz’s photographs visit Contact Press. There is also a PBS documentary called Annie Leibovitz, Life Through a Lens that features interviews from celebrities and with the photographer about the her work over the last few decades.