If you've seen a magazine in the past 30 years, you've likely seen Annie Leibovitz's work. The photographer's iconic images have made the photographer an icon in her own right. There's only one word to describe her breathtaking photoshoots, and that's, "Wow."
But later this fall, you won't have to own a stack of old Vanity Fairs to enjoy the photographer's work. Leibovitz's best works will be collected in a book entitled Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016, which hits shelved on October 25th. The book joins two other books in a series of Leibovitz's best photographs of artists, politicians, athletes and more.
Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 will consist of 150 portraits, both in color and in black and white. Some of the portraits are being published for the first time ever. The collection of famous faces is quite eclectic and will include, Donald and Melania Trump, Sheryl Sandberg, Meryl Streep, Bruce Springsteen, Barack and Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett, Queen Elizabeth II and Lin Manuel Miranda.
Leibovitz first studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she was influenced by photographers along the lines of Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Their style of personal reportage—taken in a graphic way—was what we were taught to emulate," said Leibovitz. Richard Avedon has also been an important influence on Leibovitz.
Although Leibovitz initially studied painting, she soon turned her attention towards the camera. Leibovitz studied the subject by taking night classes. In 1970, Leibovitz was hired to work for Rolling Stone magazine, and a career was launched.
In 1973, Leibovitz became the chief photographer for Rolling Stone. Leibovitz held the position for 10 years, photographing 142 covers during her decade-long career. Her "intimate photographs" of the rich and famous made Rolling Stone what it was. Leibovitz chose to create moments featuring subjects that "open their hearts and souls and lives to you".
Leibovitz was the last person to photograph John Lennon before his death. On December 8, 1980, Leibovitz snapped the infamous Rolling Stone cover of John Lennon curled up naked next to his fully clothed wife, Yoko Ono. "You couldn't help but feel that he 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,'" said Leibovitz of the shoot. Five hours after the photo shoot, Lennon was shot and killed.
Leibovitz started working for Vanity Fair in 1983. Her covers for the magazine have been described as both stunning and controversial. Her portraits for the magazine have ranged from a pregnant Demi Moore to a nude Sylvester Stallone to Caitlyn Jenner in a corset.
Leibovitz's controversial Demi Moore cover shoot stemmed out of an innocuous intention. "It began as a shoot with a specific problem. Demi had a new movie coming out, and Tina Brown, who was the editor of the magazine then, wanted to put her on the cover, but Demi was seven months pregnant with her second child. Tina and I talked about how to handle this, and we decided to go for a glamorous, sexy look," said Leibovitz. "It’s hard to imagine now, but the portrait of Demi Moore nude and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair was truly scandalous in 1991... Newsstands in other parts of the country displayed it in a white paper wrapper, as if it were a porn magazine."
In the 1980s, Leibovitz began working on high-profile advertising campaigns in addition to her magazine work. Her campaign for American Express won her a Clio Award in 1987. In 1998, Leibovitz also began shooting for Vogue.
In 1991, over 200 of Leibovitz's photographs when on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., making her the first woman to receive this honor. Photographs: Annie Leibovitz, 1970-1990 was published later that year to commemorate the show.
Leibovitz is known for her trademark technique, which she perfected on during her time at Rolling Stone. Leibovitz's photographs employ bold, primary colors and unexpected poses. Her work is truly one-of-a-kind.
Leibovitz's photographs capture a sense of intimacy. “My early childhood equipped me really well for my portrait work: The quick encounter, where you are not going to know the subject for very long. These days I am much more comfortable with the fifteen minute relationship, than I am with a life long relationship," said Leibovitz.
Leibovitz has photographed so many celebrities that most people would turn to jelly around. However, Leibovitz thinks that her biggest challenge would be herself. “I think self-portraits are very difficult," says Leibovitz. " The whole idea of a self-portrait is strange. I’m so strongly linked to how I see through the camera that to get to the other side of it would be difficult. It would be as if I were taking a photograph in the dark.”