Annie Leibovitz

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Annie Leibovitz

Birth name Anna-Lou Leibovitz
Born October 2, 1949 (1949-10-02) (age 59)
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Nationality American
Field Photography
Training San Francisco Art Institute
Influenced by mother, a modern dance instructor

Anna-Lou "Annie" Leibovitz (IPA: /ˈliːbəvɪts/) (born October 2, 1949) is an American portrait photographer whose style is marked by a close collaboration between the photographer and the subject.


[edit] Early life and education

Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, Leibovitz is the third of six children in a Jewish family. Her mother was a modern dance instructor, while her father was a lieutenant colonel in the United States 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.[1]

In high school, she became interested in various artistic endeavours, and began to write and play music. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute. She became interested in photography after taking pictures when she lived in the Philippines, where her Air Force father was stationed during the Vietnam War. For several years, she continued to develop her photography skills while she worked various jobs, including a stint on a kibbutz Amir in Israel for several months in 1969.[2]

[edit] Career

[edit] Rolling Stone magazine

When Leibovitz returned to the United States in 1970, she worked for the recently launched Rolling Stone magazine. In 1973, publisher Jann Wenner named Leibovitz chief photographer of Rolling Stone. Leibovitz worked for the magazine until 1983, and her intimate photographs of celebrities helped define the Rolling Stone look.[2]

In 1975, Leibovitz served as a concert-tour photographer for The Rolling Stones' Tour of the Americas.

[edit] Vanity Fair magazine

Since 1983, Leibovitz has worked as a featured portrait photographer for Vanity Fair.

Leibovitz sued Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement of her Vanity Fair cover photograph of a pregnant Demi Moore from a 1991 issue titled "More Demi Moore." Paramount had commissioned a parody photograph of Leslie Nielsen, pregnant, for use in a promotional poster for the 1994 comedy Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult. The case, Leibovitz v. Paramount Pictures Corp.[3], has become an important fair use case in U.S. copyright law. At trial, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York found that Paramount's use of the photo constituted fair use because parodies were likely to generate little or no licensing revenue. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.

[edit] Lennon and Ono

On December 8, 1980, Leibovitz had a photo shoot with John Lennon for Rolling Stone, promising him he would make the cover.[4] After she had initially tried to get a picture with just Lennon alone, which is what Rolling Stone wanted, Lennon insisted that both he and Yoko Ono be on the cover. Leibovitz then tried to re-create something like the kissing scene from the Double Fantasy album cover, a picture that she loved. She had John remove his clothes and curl up next to Yoko. Leibovitz recalls, "What is interesting is she said she'd take her top off and I said, 'Leave everything on' — not really preconceiving the picture at all. Then he curled up next to her and it was very, very strong. You couldn't help but feel that she was cold and he looked like he was clinging on to her. I think it was amazing to look at the first Polaroid and they were both very excited. John said, 'You've captured our relationship exactly. Promise me it'll be on the cover.' I looked him in the eye and we shook on it."[5] Leibovitz was the last person to professionally photograph Lennon — he was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman, a crazed fan, five hours later.[6]

[edit] Other noted projects

Leibovitz at "Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005", San Francisco, California, 2008
  • In the 1980s, Leibovitz photographed celebrities for an international advertising campaign for American Express charge cards.
  • In 1991, Leibovitz mounted an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
  • Also in 1991, Leibovitz emulated Margaret Bourke-White's feat, when she mounted one of the eagle gargoyles on the 61st floor of the Chrysler Building in Manhattan, where she photographed the dancer David Parsons cavorting on another eagle gargoyle. Noted Life photographer and picture editor John Loengard made a gripping photo of Leibovitz at the climax of her danger. (Loengard was photographing Leibovitz for the New York Times that day).
  • A major retrospective of Leibovitz's work was held at the Brooklyn Museum, Oct. 2006 - Jan. 2007. The retrospective was based on her book, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990 – 2005, and included many of her professional (celebrity) photographs as well as numerous personal photographs of her family, children, and partner Susan Sontag. This show, which was expanded to include three of the official portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, then went on the road for seven stops. It was on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., from October 2007 to January 2008, and as of April 2008 is at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. In February 2009 the exhibition was moved to Berlin, Germany.[7] The show included 200 photographs.[8] At the exhibition, Leibovitz said that she doesn't have two lives, career and personal, but has one where assignments and personal pictures are all part of her works. This exhibition and her talk focused on her personal photos and life. [9]

In 2007, Leibovitz was asked by Queen Elizabeth II to take the queen's official picture for her state visit to Virginia. This was filmed for the BBC documentary A Year with the Queen. A promotional trailer for the film showed the Queen reacting angrily to Leibovitz's suggestion ("less dressy") that she remove her tiara, then a scene of the Queen walking down a corridor, telling an aide "I'm not changing anything. I've had enough dressing like this, thank you very much."[10] The BBC later apologised and admitted that the sequence of events had been misrepresented, as the Queen was in fact walking to the sitting in the second scene.[11] This led to a BBC scandal and a shake-up of ethics training. See The Tiaragate Affair.

On April 25, 2008, the televised entertainment program Entertainment Tonight reported that 15 year old Miley Cyrus had posed topless for a photo shoot with Vanity Fair.[15] [16] The photo, and subsequently released behind-the-scenes photos, show Cyrus without a top, her bare back exposed but her front covered with a bedsheet. The photo shoot was taken by photographer Annie Leibovitz.[17] The full photograph was published with an accompanying story on The New York Times' website on April 27, 2008. On April 29, 2008, The New York Times clarified that though the pictures left an impression that she was bare-breasted, Cyrus was wrapped in a bedsheet and was actually not topless.[18] Some parents expressed outrage at the nature of the photograph, which a Disney spokesperson described as "a situation [that] was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines."[18]

In response to the internet circulation of the photo and ensuing media attention, Cyrus released a statement of apology on April 27:

“I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about."[18]

Leibovitz also released a statement saying:

“"I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted," Leibovitz said. " The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little makeup, and I think it is very beautiful.[11]"[18]

[edit] Archive

Since 1977, Leibovitz licensing images have been represented by Contact Press Images, a photojournalism agency based in New York City. Her assignment work is represented by Jim Moffat at A Corporation for Art & Commerce in New York.

[edit] Personal life

Leibovitz had a close romantic relationship with noted writer and essayist Susan Sontag. They met in 1989, when both had already established notability in their careers. Leibovitz has suggested that Sontag mentored her and constructively criticized her work.

After Sontag's death in 2004, Newsweek published an article about Leibovitz that made reference to her decade-plus relationship with Sontag, stating that "The two first met in the late '80s, when Leibovitz photographed her for a book jacket. They never lived together, though they each had an apartment within view of the other's."[19]

Neither Leibovitz nor Sontag had ever previously publicly disclosed whether the relationship was familial, a friendship, or romantic in nature. However, when Leibovitz was interviewed for her 2006 book A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005, she said the book told a number of stories, and that "with Susan, it was a love story."[20]

In the preface to the new book, she speaks in greater detail about her romantic/intellectual relationship with Sontag, briefly discussing a book they were working on together and describes how assembling her new book was part of the grieving process after Sontag's death. The book and accompanying show include many photographs of Sontag throughout their life together, including several on her deathbed.

Leibovitz acknowledged that she and Sontag were romantically involved. When asked why she used terms like "companion" to describe Sontag, instead of more specific ones like "partner" or "lover," Leibovitz finally said that "lover" was fine with her.[21] She later repeated the assertion in stating to the San Francisco Chronicle: "Call us 'lovers'. I like 'lovers.' You know, 'lovers' sounds romantic. I mean, I want to be perfectly clear. I love Susan."[22]

[edit] Children

Leibovitz has three children: Sarah Cameron Leibovitz (b. October 2001) was born when Leibovitz was 51 years old. Her twins Susan and Samuelle were born to a surrogate mother in May 2005.[22]

[edit] Financial Troubles

In February 2009, Leibovitz borrowed $15.5 million, having experienced financial challenges in the recent years. [23] She put up as collateral, not only several houses, but the rights to all of her photographs. The NY Times noted “one of the world’s most successful photographers essentially pawned every snap of the shutter she had made or will make until the loans are paid off.” [24]

[edit] Famous Leibovitz photos

[edit] Leibovitz's photo books

  • Photographs
  • Photographs 1970-1990
  • Olympic Portraits
  • Women
  • American Music
  • A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 (catalog for a travelling exhibit that debuted at the Brooklyn Museum in October 2006)
  • Annie Leibovitz: At Work

[edit] References

  1. ^ Cooke, Rachel (2008-02-03). "How I shot my sister Annie ...". The Observer.,,2251302,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-10. 
  2. ^ a b "Annie Leibovitz Biography". bookrags. Retrieved on 2007-07-19. 
  3. ^ Leibovitz v. Paramount Pictures Corp., 137 F.3d 109 (2d Cir. 1998).
  4. ^ "Hours After This Picture Was Taken John Lennon Was Dead" (HTML). Guardian Unlimited. 2005-12-08. Retrieved on 2007-07-26. 
  5. ^ The Rolling Stone magazine (2007). "Issue #335 (Jan. 22, 1981)" (Audio). The Rolling Stone magazine. Retrieved on 2007-07-26. 
  6. ^ Yoko Ono. (2008-08-09). Annie Leibovitz - Life Through a Lens [DVD]. ICA. "a heavy weight fate was waiting for us only...four or five hours later"
  7. ^ From 21 February to 24 May 2009 at the C/O Gallerie.
  8. ^ Associated Press, 21 October 2007, article by Lubna Taknuri
  9. ^ Jacquelyn Lewis (October 19, 2006), Artist Walk: Annie Leibovitz, ARTINFO,, retrieved on 2008-04-16 
  10. ^ Reuters (2007-07-12). "BBC sorry for misrepresenting Queen". ABC News. Retrieved on 2007-07-19. 
  11. ^ Associated Press (2007-07-12). "Broadcaster sorry for queen claim". CNN. Retrieved on 2007-07-19. 
  12. ^ USATODAY Photo Gallery
  13. ^ Disney's dazzling 'Dreams' -
  14. ^ NOTCOT: Leibovitz takes on Disney
  15. ^ Miley Knows Best, Vanity Fair, June 2008
  16. ^ "Miley Cyrus topless controversy". 2008-04-28.,22049,23608789-5001026,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-27. 
  17. ^ Stephen M. Silverman (2008-04-27). "Miley Cyrus: I'm Sorry for Photos".,,20195785,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-27. 
  18. ^ a b c d Brook Barnes (2008-04-28). "A Topless Photo Threatens a Major Disney Franchise". Retrieved on 2008-04-29. 
  19. ^ Cathleen McGuigan (2006-10-02). "Through Her Lens". Newsweek. Retrieved on 2007-07-19. 
  20. ^ Janny Scott (2006-10-06). "From Annie Leibovitz: Life, and Death, Examined". New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-07-19. 
  21. ^ Annie Leibovitz. Interview with Tom Ashbrook. On Point. WBUR, NPR Boston. 17 October 2006. (Interview [Audio]). Retrieved on 2007-07-19.
  22. ^ a b Edward Guthmann (2006-11-01). "Love, family, celebrity, grief -- Leibovitz puts her life on display in photo memoir". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2007-07-19. 
  23. ^ Allen Salkin (2009-02-24). "That Old Master? It’s at the Pawnshop". New York Times. 
  24. ^ Allen Salkin (2009-02-24). "That Old Master? It’s at the Pawnshop". New York Times. 
  25. ^ - 1980 Rolling Stone Interview With John Lennon by Jonathan Cott
  26. ^ Rolling Stone cover: January 22, 1981
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ [2]
  29. ^ [3]
  30. ^ [4]
  31. ^ [5]
  32. ^ [6]
  33. ^ [7]
  34. ^ [8]
  35. ^ RS 270 (July 27, 1978)
  36. ^ Patti Smith Catches Fire
  37. ^ [9]
  38. ^ [10]
  39. ^ Bruce
  40. ^ Some Call LeBron James' 'Vogue' Cover Offensive, News & Notes, 2008-03-27
  41. ^ LeBron James' 'Vogue' cover called racially insensitive, USA Today, 2008-03-24

[edit] External links

NAME Leibovitz, Annie
DATE OF BIRTH October 2, 1949
PLACE OF BIRTH Waterbury, Connecticut, United States
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