Annie Leibovitz was born in 1949 in Waterbury, Connecticut and as a kid went to an Art Institute to study painting. Later, she moved to Japan with her mother the summer after sophomore year, and started to discover that she found an interest in photography. Then when she moved to San Francisco. That fall, she started talking night classes to keep up in photography. Then at around the time of 1970, Leibovitz approached Jann Wenner, founding editor of Rolling Stone, which he’d recently launched and was operating out of San Francisco. Impressed with her portfolio, Wenner gave Leibovitz her first assignment: shoot John Lennon. Leibovitz’s black-and-white portrait of the shaggy-looking Beatle graced the cover of the January 21, 1971 issue. Two years later she was named Rolling Stone chief photographer.
When the magazine began printing in color in 1974, Leibovitz followed suit. “In school, I wasn’t taught anything about lighting, and I was only taught black-and-white,” she told ARTnews in 1992. “So I had to learn color myself.” Among her subjects from that period are Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, and Patti Smith. Leibovitz also served as the official photographer for the Rolling Stones’ 1975 world tour. While on the road with the band, she produced her iconic black-and-white portraits of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, shirtless and gritty.
In the year 2000 Annie Leibovitz was the first in a group of Americans to be named a Library of Congress Living Legend. And she eventually ended up going to the white house to take pictures of Barack Obama and his family.
"A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people."
"Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy - your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself. When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I'd like to know them."
Born: October 2, 1949, Waterbury, CT
Children: Sarah Cameron Leibovitz, Susan Leibovitz, Samuelle Leibovitz
Awards: Honorary Clio Award, Glamour Award for The Visionary
Education: Northwood High School, San Francisco Art Institute
Story by Stella Ballard
Photos by Annie Liebovitz from ArtNet and Pinterest