Later, she left Rolling Stone and began working for other companies such as Vanity Fair and Vogue , while at the same time publishing numerous books; compilations of her photographs. Her unique vision and the content of her photographs have the ability to make bold statements and striking impressions; one of the reasons her work is so popular. Throughout her career, Annie Leibovitz worked closely with her friend, Susan Sontag, a well-known writer, who died of cancer in 2004.
The two were very close, and rumors exist that their relationship was romantic in nature, however the two never admitted anything related to the subject; nonetheless, Sontag greatly influenced Annie Leibovitz’ work. She has three children, and has two homes, one in New York City and one on Rhode Island. She began as a student at the San Francisco Art Institute with the intention of becoming a painter and working as an art teacher. However, after taking a photography class she was enthralled with the process and decided to change her perspective.
Her early work is mainly in black and white, but as time progressed she found that she also enjoyed working in color although the process was foreign to her, since she had initially learned photography in black and white. She continued to produce work in both mediums, creating signature scenes with the use of each. Due to her career as a magazine photographer, Leibovitz has taken advantage of the opportunity to photograph celebrities; including political figures, musicians, athletes and actors, and has thus helped create the surreal, idealistic image that we expect from such people.
For example, one of her most famous images is of John Lennon lying next to his wife, Yoko Ono, taken hours before he was killed. In 1975, she was the official concert-tour photographer for the Rolling Stones. She has also taken photographs of Johnny Cash and his family, Norah Jones, Iggy Pop, The White Stripes, and others. Her occasionally outrageous, but always appropriate placements of subjects and props contribute to the sense of personality and artistic embodiment of the individuals in her portraits.
Annie Leibovitz doesn’t limit her work to the rich and famous, however; she often shoots photos of average people, making them extraordinary in their unpublicized splendor and elegant simplicity. In her book Women, published in 1999; a collection of varied photographs of American females, she captures many of her subjects with shocking clarity, revealing their lifestyles to the world.
Diverse in culture, ethnicity and values, these women seem to tell their story through the expressions on their faces; the poses in which Leibovitz places them elicit personal connection to one’s own experiences, accurately portraying life as each of us knows it, not through the eyes of someone unfamiliar, but through the visions of the ones standing right beside us. Leibovitz has won several awards for her photographs, and in 1991 she became the first woman ever to have her work exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute in the National Portrait Gallery; only the second living photographer to do so.
During the 1990s she founded the Annie Leibovitz Studio in New York City, New York. On a recent interview with Tim Russert on CNBC, she spoke about her new book, A Photographer’s Life: 1990-2005, a compilation of various pictures taken throughout her career of photography. After an inquiry about two photos taken of the burning Twin Towers in New York on 9/11, she explained that she views photography as a way to preserve history the way it is now for reference in the future.
Annie Leibovitz has also had the chance to practice her advertising skills, doing photo shoots for Honda, American Express, The Gap, and other companies. As a result of her success in that field, she received the Clio Award, like an Academy Award for the advertising world, in 1987. She was made a member of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame in 1999. Though working mostly in portraiture, Leibovitz used her camera effectively to shoot photos of the reality of war at Sarajevo and Rwanda. She has done a group of portraits featuring sufferers of AIDS, and has captured victims of domestic violence as well.