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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Leibovitz uses camera lens for different view of celebrity

Annie Leibovitz  Photo courtesy Krzysztof Wojciechowski
Annie Leibovitz Photo courtesy Krzysztof Wojciechowski

By Sara Pintilie/reporter

Annie Leibovitz  Photo courtesy Krzysztof Wojciechowski
Annie Leibovitz Photo courtesy Krzysztof Wojciechowski

Annie Leibovitz’s photographs are legendary—presenting a more personal persona to celebrities who appear unreachable to the general public.

Leibovitz was born in 1949 in Connecticut to Marilyn, a dance instructor, and Sam, an Air Force lieutenant colonel. Leibovitz is one of six siblings and moved around often during her childhood because of her father’s career.

Her passion for photography developed in college at the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1969, she worked on an Israeli kibbutz, a collective farm, and sold her pictures to the up-and-coming magazine Rolling Stone.

In 1973, she became the chief photographer of Rolling Stone at 23. For the next 10 years, Leibovitz traveled the world, making her name known in the world of portrait photography.

“ I’m not a journalist,” she said in her book A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005. “A journalist doesn’t take sides, and I don’t want to go through life like that. I have a more powerful voice as a photographer if I express a point of view.”

During her time at the magazine she took one of her most famous shots to date—a nude John Lennon curled around a clothed Yoko Ono.

This iconic picture was taken about two hours before Lennon was murdered outside his New York home in 1980.

“ What I learned from Lennon was something that did stay with me my whole career, which is to be very straightforward,” she said. “I actually love talking about taking pictures, and I think that helps everyone.”

She was hired by the Rolling Stones to tour and photograph them on their 1975 international tour.

“ At my Rolling Stones’ tour, [my camera] was a protection,” she said in an interview with fotoTAPETA, a central European photography magazine. “I used it in a Zen way. If I didn’t have my camera to remind me constantly ‘I am here to do this,’ then I would eventually have slipped away, I think.”

Leibovitz developed a drug problem while touring with the band.

“ I was having my problems, period,” she said. “Just getting off the tour …

We were all doing drugs and it kind of overtook me a bit for a few years. Cocaine.”

But her career continued to climb. She left Rolling Stone in 1983 and became one of the chief photographers at Vanity Fair. She frequently contributes to other magazines such as Vogue.

Whoopi Goldberg, Demi Moore, Mick Jagger and the cast of The Sopranos are a few subjects of Leibovitz’s ever-growing body of work.

“ My pictures are helped by an environment,” she said in A Photographer’s Life. “I love the street. I love going to someone’s house, seeing what’s on their walls, what chair they sit in. I like to see how they live.”

Leibovitz’s photographic style includes bold colors and a sense of intimacy dealing with the subjects.

“ A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people,” she said.

Jonathan Van Meter, writer for Vogue, commented on Leibovitz’s work ethic while on location for an Angelina Jolie photo shoot for the January ’07 issue.

“ Only as I am jammed in the back next to Leibovitz [on Jolie’s personal plane] … does the reality of what I am doing sink in,” he said.

“ We swoop to the right and then to the left. My stomach drops. Leibovitz snaps off a bunch of shots, then climbs over into the front seat … more swooping, more snapping.”

In A Photographer’s Life, Leibovitz displays many pictures of her personal life, including a collection of photographs of her children, Sarah, Susan, Samulle and her family but mainly of Susan Sontag, a close friend.

Sontag died in 2004 of a form of leukemia and a few weeks later, Leibovitz’s father died.

“ There’s this question: how can you publish these pictures [of Sontag’s last days in the hospital]? Well, you could never publish them while she was alive. But she’s dead. And that’s the bottom line.” Leibovitz said.

“ Susan loved the good fight. And there’s no doubt in my mind—and I do this as if she was standing behind me—that she would be championing this work.”

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