Glamour Epitomized by Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz

“When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.” (Annie Leibovitz1990’s)

Anna-Lou “Annie” Leibovitz (born October 2, 1949) is arguably the most celebrated American portrait photographer of all time.  Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, Leibovitz is the third of six children. She is a third-generation American whose great-grandparents were Jewish immigrants, from Central and Eastern Europe. Her father’s parents had emigrated from Romania. Her mother, Marilyn Leibovitz, was a modern dance instructor of Estonian Jewish heritage; her father, Sam Leibovitz, was 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 high school, she became interested in various artistic endeavors, and began to write and play music. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute, where she studied painting. For several years, she continued to develop her photography skills while working various jobs, including a stint on a kibbutz in Amir, Israel, for several months in 1969.

Annie Leibovitz sitting

While studying painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, she took night classes in photography, and in 1970, she began doing work for Rolling Stone magazine. She became Rolling Stone’s chief photographer in 1973. By the time she left the magazine, 10 years later, she had shot 142 covers. In 1983, she joined the staff at Vanity Fair, and in 1998, she also began working for Vogue. In addition to her magazine editorial work, Leibovitz has created influential advertising campaigns for American Express and the Gap and has contributed frequently to the Got Milk? campaign. She has worked with many arts organizations, including American Ballet Theatre, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Mark Morris Dance Group, and with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Her books include Annie Leibovitz: Photographs (1983), Photographs: Annie Leibovitz 1970–1990 (1991), Olympic Portraits (1996), Women (1999), American Music (2003), A Photographer’s Life: 1990–2005 (2006), and Annie Leibovitz at Work (2008). Exhibitions of her images have appeared at museums and galleries all over the world, including the National Portrait Gallery and the Corcoran Gallery, in Washington, D.C.; the International Center of Photography, in New York; the Brooklyn Museum; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; the Centre National de la Photographie, in Paris; and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Leibovitz has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress and is the recipient of many other honors, including the Barnard College Medal of Distinction and the Infinity Award in Applied Photography from the International Center of Photography. She was decorated a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. She currently lives in New York with her three children, Sarah, Susan, and Samuelle.

Her absolute in-demand photography ability, with that uncanny effect of conferring unparalleled glamour to all of her subjects, has seen her shoot anyone who is anyone in modern history, including John Lennon, George W. Bush, Michael Jackson and even Queen Elizabeth II. As well, she is always wearing those classic, characteristically NYC-art-scene eye glass frames … perhaps they are the real talent? Only Ms. Leibovitz knows for sure …

Romeo and Juliet Vogue Annie Leibowitz

Vered Optical’s favourite Leibovitz work, a still from her “Romeo and Juliet” series in the December 2008 issue of Vogue …