Annie Leibovitz was born on October 2, 1949, in Waterbury, Connecticut. She began her career as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone magazine in 1970, while she was still a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. Her first major assignment was for a cover story on John Lennon. She became Rolling Stone’s chief photographer in 1973 and by the time she left the magazine, ten years later, her work was widely known. She had shot scores of cover portraits and photo essays. In 1983, when she joined the staff of the revived Vanity Fair, she was established as an astute documentarian of the social landscape. She began collaborating regularly for Vogue in the late 1980s. Leibovitz is known today primarily as a portraitist, but she has a significant portfolio of fashion photographs, landscapes, and personal reportage.
Several collections of Leibovitz’s work have been published. They include Annie Leibovitz: Photographs (1983); Annie Leibovitz: Photographs 1970–1990 (1991); Olympic Portraits (1996); Women (1999), in collaboration with Susan Sontag; American Music (2003); A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005 (2006); Annie Leibovitz at Work (2008; revised edition 2018), a first-person commentary on her career; and Pilgrimage (2011); Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 (2017); Annie Leibovitz: The Early Years, 1970-1983 (2018); Annie Leibovitz: Wonderland (2021).
Leibovitz is the recipient of many honors. In 2006, she was made a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. She has received the International Center of Photography’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the first Creative Excellence Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors, the Centenary Medal of the Royal Photographic Society in London, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts, the Wexner Prize, and the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities. She has been designated a Living Legend by the United States Library of Congress. She lives in New York with her three children, Sarah, Susan and Samuelle.