Annie Leibovitz was born October 2, 1949 in Connecticut, USA. She grew up in a Jewish family of six children, between a modern dance teacher mother and father 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.
In 1967, Leibovitz enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute, where (although initially studying painting) she developed a love for photography.
She started her career in 1970, as a staff photographer for start-up rock music magazine Rolling Stone. Two years later, Leibovitz was chief photographer for the magazine, a position she would hold for 10 years. 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.”
In 1980, the newspaper asked her to photograph Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Without knowing it then, Annie Leibovitz shot the couple few hours before the singer’s death. This photograph, in which we find John Lennon naked alongside his partner, will make the cover of Rolling Stone.
In 1983, Annie Leibovitz published his first book of photographs. That same year, she left Rolling Stone and became the official photographer for Vanity Fair. Her photographs then become more inventive, stunning - and often controversial – like her portraits of celebrities: Demi Moore (pregnant & nude) and Whoopi Goldberg (half-submerged in a bathtub of milk). She is known for her ability to make her sitters become physically involved in her work, one of Leibovitz’s most famous portraits is of the late artist Keith Haring, who painted himself like one of his canvases for the photo.
In 1991, Leibovitz’s collection of over 200 color and black-and-white photographs were exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Later that year, a book was published to accompany the show titled Photographs: Annie Leibovitz 1970-1990.