Annie Leibovitz: Portrait of a portraitist

Annie Leibovitz launched her career through Rolling Stone magazine, but now she is much more than a rock n’ roll force in the domain of photography. These days, at least for the rest of the world’s photographers, she has become something like an elder stateswoman.

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That claim alone can be substantiated by her success. Big companies such as UBS line up to finance her roving global exhibits. She has the world of fashion and advertisements wrapped around her finger, with her resume that boasts portraits of some of the biggest names in fashion. Name a thick household glossy, and she has helmed its images.

A few days before John Lennon was assassinated, Leibovitz had captured the former Beatle in an intimate embrace with his wife, Yoko Ono. This masterpiece earned her a place in the hallowed exhibits of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

Then there’s the portrait series of women, launched in 1999 at the urging of her then partner, the notable author Susan Sontag. Almost the feminist manifesto in photography at the time, the series annotated the evolving roles of women in a rapidly modernizing society. In recent times, the photographer remarked how difficult it had been in the early aughts to select renowned businesswomen to include in the series. These days, she has her pick among Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Meyer, and other tech females.

Her representation of women is the idea that sticks. Leibovitz has evolved into an outspoken and visible presence in women’s rights, and it’s hard to miss her in the crowds of marches for women. Annie Leibovitz has shown how far photography has moved, along with its subjects, over time.

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For more photography reads, visit this Judd Bergman blog.


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