Annie Leibovitz: Pop culture through her camera
If there is one person who has thoroughly documented today’s pop culture, it’s Annie Leibovitz, the photographer of the stars.
Annie has been the chief photographer for a number of major magazines, ranging from Rolling Stone magazine to Vanity Fair and Vogue.
She’s also done several award-winning advertising campaigns and had her work published in books focusing on her photography.
But while her work has been very well-documented,her personal life has been recorded sparsely, from her relationship with Susan Sontag to her financial problems.
Annie Leibovitz: Born to visualize
Born on October 2, 1949 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Anna-Lou Leibovitz was the third in a brood of six children in a family that moved frequently due to her father’s military assignments as a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force.
In fact, Annie took her first pictures while his father was stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War.
She attended Northwood High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, she wrote and played music. After, she attended the San Francisco Art Institute, she studied painting.
During this period, she also took night classes in photography. In 1970, she began to work for Rolling Stone magazine, becoming its chief photographer in 1973.
She worked there for 10 years and she had shot 142 covers, ultimately helping to define the look of the magazine as she took pictures of major celebrities like John Lennon and Mick Jagger.
In 1983, she joined Vanity Fair and also worked regularly with Vogue starting in 1998.
Annie Leibovitz: Iconic photographer
Since then, her works have been published in books like Annie Leibovitz: Photographs (1983), Photographs: Annie Leibovitz 1970–1990 (1991), Olympic Portraits (1996), Women (1999), and American Music (2003).
Likewise, she had exhibitions of her photographs in museums and galleries around the world, from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. to the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, and even the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Moreover, she has been tagged a Living Legend by the Library of Congress and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Center of Photography and the Centenary Medal of the Royal Photographic Society in London.
The French government has also decorated her as a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Annie Leibovitz: Her life and her loves
However, despite her reputation, Annie remains behind the camera most of the time with her personal life peeking every now and then.
She had a close relationship with writer Susan Sontag from 1989 until the latter’s death in 2004, though neither of them really talked about their relationship in public.
As Newsweek magazine noted in 2006, “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.”
However, she would later admit her love for Susaon, stating: “Call us ‘lovers’. I like ‘lovers.’ You know, ‘lovers’ sounds romantic. I mean, I want to be perfectly clear. I love Susan.”
Unfortunately, this relationship would cost her financially: when Susan died, her inheritance went to Annie and the photographer ended up having to pay for the inheritance tax.
Because of this, Annie had to borrow a total of $15.5 million using as collateral her town houses in Greenwich Village, a country house, and the rights to all her photographs.
Currently, Annie lives in New York with her three children: Sarah, Susan, and Samuelle.