Non-trivial portraits of celebrities: Queen Elizabeth II, Michael Jackson and others through the lens of the legendary Annie Leibovitz
Non-trivial portraits of celebrities: Queen Elizabeth II, Michael Jackson and others through the lens of the legendary Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is one of the most famous contemporary American photographers. Starting as a young, inexperienced amateur who managed to get a job in a prestigious world magazine, she was able to quickly establish herself as a photographer who could capture the essence of her subjects, unlike others. And it is not at all surprising that her rapidly growing career has been subject to criticism and controversy. However, her unquenchable talent and insatiable desire to keep working has led her to an almost incomparable status in the world of photographic portraiture, making her one of the most successful and sought after photographers.

Annie Leibovitz. \ Photo:

At the age of only twenty-one, Annie got a job as a photographer for Rolling Stone magazine, which at the time was one of the best-selling magazines in the world, and she immersed herself in the process. Her first cover shoot was for a man whose fame matched the scale of the magazine - John Lennon, who at the time claimed that he and his Beatles buddies were more famous than Jesus.

Meryl Streep, Annie Leibovitz. \ Photo:

However, it was only ten years later that Annie made a portrait of Lennon, which later became one of her most iconic. It was also a photograph that became important in John's life story as it was one of the last photographs taken before he was shot just hours after the shoot.

The tragic events that followed Annie's portrait add an additional edge to the tenderness expressed in the image in which John, completely naked, clings to Yoko Ono's body, as if trying to dissolve in the warmth emanating from her.

Leonardo DiCaprio. \ Photo:

Annie's own romantic relationship has been shrouded in mystery for years. Many have speculated about the relationship between Annie and writer Susan Sontag, who sadly died at the age of seventy-one in 2004. However, the two have never publicly disclosed any information about their relationship. It was clear that they were close friends, and lived close to each other, while never living together.

Portrait of Susan Sontag, 1975. \ Photo:

After Sontag's death, Annie made it clear that they were in love, saying, “Call us 'lovers.' I like lovers. You know, "in love" sounds romantic. " Sontag has always been relatively open about her sexuality, declaring at sixteen that she was bisexual. Susan also said that she had been in love nine times in her life, four times with men and five times with women. However, her position as an important figure in the LGBTQ community was overlooked at the time of her death because (according to the newspapers) they could not find independently verified evidence that she had an intimate relationship with Annie or anyone else.

Album cover Born in the U.S.A. Bruce Springsteen, Annie Leibovitz, 1984. \ Photo:

Annie's next most iconic photograph may not be immediately recognized as part of her work, but it is one of the most famous album covers in music history. This is the cover of Bruce Springsteen's 1984 album, born in the USA. The cover, like the song itself, have become global symbols of the American Dream. Annie snapped the famous photo of Bruce from behind, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, which in turn played into the hands of both the photographer and the musician.The album sold over thirty million copies between its release and 2012, eventually bringing Springsteen to the podium.

Barack Obama Oval Office, Washington DC, 2017. \ Photo:

Annie herself was born in the United States and is a third generation American citizen. However, her family is of Romanian and Estonian Jewish origin. Her father was an Air Force pilot and her mother was a dancer. As the daughter of a military man, she often traveled the world and, while in the Philippines, Annie began taking her first photographs. In fact, it was while the family was in the Far East that Annie applied to the San Francisco Art Institute. Here she originally intended to become an artist, following her mother's love for the medium. However, after attending additional evening photography classes, she soon realized that this was her passion.

The 1975 Rolling Stones collection of Leibovitz photographs seen in her 2019 retrospective photographed by Michael Giuliano. \ Photo:

Nightly classes in San Francisco to create portraits of Queen Elizabeth II may sound like fantasy, but Annie made it her reality. In 2007, an American photographer was commissioned to photograph the Queen as part of her state visit to the United States.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in robes, Buckingham Palace, Annie Leibovitz, 2007

In the photographs, Elizabeth II is captured in her best regalia. She looks regal and powerful, but Annie still managed to catch the very fine line between greatness and femininity. However, filming did not go as smoothly as we wanted. Elizabeth was half an hour late due to the fact that it took her a long time to fully dress herself in her rather extravagant outfit.

Then, in a limited time session, Annie asked the Queen to take off her tiara because she looked too fancy. Unfortunately, the queen was not very supportive of this, as she had already gone through the process of putting it on and matching her hair. The footage of this meeting was broadcast by the BBC and was considered a real scandal.

Queen Elizabeth on her birthday (90th birthday), Annie Leibovitz. \ Photo: \ Photo:

However, filming was ultimately a success. Annie was later invited to the palace in 2016 to film the Queen and her grandchildren, so Her Majesty must not have been too upset about meeting earlier.

Leibovitz speaking at the presentation of his show Women in 2016. \ Photo:

Annie's success came not only thanks to the celebrities she filmed. She has also received wide acclaim for her work from both critics and colleagues.

Annie has also received an honorary doctorate, the Royal Photographic Society Centenary Medal, the Paes Medal of the Arts and the Lucy Prize.

Annie was also the first woman to hold a solo exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 2005. The Life of a Photographer show was a retrospective of her career up to this point and was well received by fans and critics alike.

The infamous photo of Miley Cyrus on the cover of the October issue of Vanity Fair magazine, Annie Leibovitz, 2008. \ Photo:

However, while her career has been filled with success, the scandalous filming does not end with the queen alone. In 2008, Annie made a portrait of fifteen-year-old Miley Cyrus, which was received with hostility by most critics. At the time, Miley had a huge success with her starring role in the hit Disney Channel TV series Hannah Montana. The photo, intended for the cover of the October issue of Vanity Fair, showed Miley facing the camera, topless and covered only with a sheet. As a result, Annie managed to get into trouble with this picture of the young singer. Many argued that it was unbecoming for an American photographer to put Cyrus in such a position, let alone photograph her and broadcast her to the whole world.

Rihanna, Annie Leibovitz. \ Photo:

However, soon the outrage over this image got out of control, and Miley herself was forced to apologize for her participation in the filming. She tweeted, "I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be artistic, and now after seeing the photos and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed." But in 2018, she canceled her apology, tweeting the stern wording next to a picture of the front page of the New York Post that read, "Shame on Miley."

Jennifer Lawrence and Jane Fonda, Annie Leibovitz. \ Photo:

However, Annie's provocative nature often leads to far more positive results than this experience might suggest. In 2017, she photographed the famous tennis player Serena Williams during her pregnancy. The pictures of Williams proudly standing in front of the camera certainly give the impression that she is nude, not naked. Her powerful legs and challenging pose tell the story of a woman who is able to dominate her sports field and bring new life to the world.

Michael Jackson, Annie Leibovitz. \ Photo:

Annie herself has three children. Her first child was born when she was fifty-two, and her twin girls were born to a surrogate mother in 2005. Her eldest daughter Sarah was present at the infamous shoot with the Queen, she offered Her Majesty a bouquet of flowers when Annie introduced her daughter and the rest of the crew. Her twins are named Susan and Samuel, and Susan undoubtedly pays homage to her late friend, lover and mother confidant, Susan Sontag, who died just a year before she was born.

By the way, photographer Martin Scholler is also ready to pose as the stars of show businessand politicians. About what is the main secret of his success - further in the article.

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