Annie Leibovitz is a true trailblazer when it comes to women in the field of photography. She was born in 1949 in Waterbury, Connecticut with the childhood intentions of becoming a painter. When the time came for Leibovitz to go to college, she enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute with every intention of becoming a professional painter as a career. When she traveled to Japan later that year with her mom, she found a love for photography. Once she returned to San Francisco, she started taking night classes in photography.
Later in life, Leibovitz approached the founder and editor of “Rolling Stone” magazine and was given her first assignment with the company. She was sent out to photograph young John Lennon and one of her photographs ended up on the cover of the January issue of 1971. Two years later, she became the chief photographer for the magazine. Years later, she photographed him on the day he was assassinated and her photos were used, again, on the cover of “Rolling Stone” magazine.
Annie Leibovitz is an inspiration to me for more than just her photographs. She is an out and open lesbian in the American business world. With that, she has faced challenges on her path due to her life-style choices. Despite any difficulties this part of her life could have caused, she is still one of the most famous female photographers of her time and she never once lost sight of her vision, her focus, and her future. To me, to be not only a woman, but a member of the LGBTQIA+ community in the art field takes ten times more effort to prove your worth because there are constantly critics questioning your artistic capabilities based on parts of your life that do not effect your art in any negative way at all. Leibovitz is extremely admirable for this, in my opinion.
If you know me, you most likely know that I want to be a celebrity, portraiture photographer as a career one day. With that in mind, it is obvious that Annie’s work has had an incredible impact on my work and my life in general. Through Annie Leibovitz’s work, I am able to see exactly where I want to be one day. I can see a future for myself, and a successful one at that.
At no surprise to probably anyone, my number one favorite photograph by Annie Leibovitz is this photo of Whoopi Goldberg nearly fully submerged in a bathtub full of milk. A series of photos that I have been working on for the past three years is people in bathtubs filled with milk, so this photo has always held an important space in my heart. I also find it pretty cool that this photo also ties into my love for Mary Ellen Mark and her women in bathtubs in her “Ward 81” series and my fascination with the book and movie, “Girl, Interrupted”. In this movie adaptation, Whoopi Goldberg actually plays “Valerie”, the head warden on the girls unit in the mental hospital. For the same reason that I love Mary Ellen Marks “Ward 81” series, I love this photo. I will truly always have a soft spot in my life for photos in a bathtub - especially if milky water is involved.
Here is a lecture Annie Leibovitz did on some of the stories and meanings behind some of her most famous photographs.
All work courteous of Annie Leibovitz.