Annie Leibovitz began her photography career in 1970 working for the Rolling Stone magazine, after which she realized pictorials for several publications including Vogue and Vanity Fair. The fact that she photographed so many celebrities across the globe, helped Annie give another meaning of the word celebrity. “I have always been interested in what they do, not who they are. I hope that my photos reflect that”.
So, in honor of her amazing career as photographer, let’s have a look at some of the best Annie Leibovitz portraits of celebrities.
1. John Lennon and Yoko
In 1980, she photographed John Lennon stripped and coiled around his wife Yoko Ono for the cover of Rolling Stone. “You have surprised exactly our relationship. Promise me I’ll be on the cover”, he said to Annie Lennon. Hours after the photo shoot, Lennon was shot dead outside his home by Mark David Chapman. In 2005, the cover of Ono and Lennon was named the most successful in the last 40 years by the American Society of Magazine Editors.
2. Miley Cyrus
In 2008, when she was 15, Disney star Miley Cyrus posed for Vanity Fair topless covered only with a sheet that shows her bare back. A Disney representative called the event a “situation deliberately manipulating a 15-year old teen to sell the magazine”. Annie defended herself saying: “I’m sorry if a portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted. It’s a classic, not too much makeup, I think it is very beautiful”.
3. Meryl Streep
In 1981, Streep was just beginning her career and received a lot of attention form the press. “I’m just a nobody, an actress!”. At that time, Meryl Streep was not feeling good when having her portrait taken, but hopefully she now realizes that she is an incredibly beautiful woman. When Annie met with her and realized that she felt awkward about having her portrait taken, she captured the actress in a white mime face. “I think she felt really good that she could hide underneath [the makeup]”, said Leibovitz. Streep felt comfortable in the mime makeup. It was like she was playing a role.
4. Whoopi Goldberg
Another famous photo taken by Annie is that of comedian Whoopi Goldberg inside a tub filled with milk. The idea of the picture came from one of Goldberg’s stage performances, in which she plays a little black girl who want to be white, so she uses Clorox to wash her skin. Needless to say that it took gallons of milk to fill the tub, milk which was warmed in pots on the stove and poured in. Goldberg then got inside the tub, covered herself almost completely in milk and stuck out her tongue. “I thought ‘Oh my goodness, this is graphically amazing and interesting,’ and we took that picture”, said Leibovitz.
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger was a key figure in many of Leibovitz’s photos. She photographed him on several occasions over many years. In one picture, the former body builder appears astride his horse on the beach; in another, he stands in a snug white shirt atop a snowy ski slope and in the one you see above he simply lies in bed with a fellow body builder, exposing his incredible muscles. The contrast between the massive bodies of the two and the white sheets and relaxed attitude made this picture a real winner.
6. Angelina Jolie
This beautiful actress was photographed on many occasions by Annie Leibovitz. The photo taken above is from a Vanity Fair photo session that took place in June 2005, where Angelina posed with her son in an intimate family moment. For Vogue in April 2002 or in January 2007, Leibovitz showed a sexy Angelina, proud to show off her body.
7. Demi Moore
When she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in August 1991, Demi Moore sparked a scandal. Seven months pregnant and wearing a diamond, the actress was photographed by Annie no less famous Leibovitz. Considered by many an indecent photograph, the picture became famous worldwide and remained in the collective memory, launching a trend in photographing beautiful naked famous pregnant women on the cover of the most important magazines in the world.
8. Football players
Close to the World Cup (which starts on June 11 in South Africa), Annie Leibovitz revealed in a photo shoot for the Vanity Fair magazine, some of the reasons why women love this sport. She stripped some famous football players of equipment and inhibitions, leaving them in underwear: Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo and Ivorian Didier Drogba (both being on the cover), Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o, Ghanaian Sulley Muntari, American Landon Donovan, Brazilians Kaká and Alexander Pato, Italan Gianluigi Buffon, Serb Dejan Stankovic, Englishman Carlton Cole and German Michael Ballack. The only one who resisted Annie Leibovitz and remained in jeans was Kaká.
9. The Queen
In 2007, during the visit of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain to the U.S., the BBC organized a photo shoot as was part of the documentary A Year with the Queen. The event caused a great scandal when BBC wrongly implying that the Queen stormed out of a photo shoot with American celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. Scenes of the Queen and Leibovitz clashing over the request to remove the crown were followed by footage of the monarch walking down a corridor and telling her lady-in-waiting: “I’m not changing anything. I’ve had enough dressing like this, thank you very much”. Find out more on the matter here.
10. Mikhail Baryshnikov
Last, but not least in our list of awesome photos taken by Leibowitz is that of Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Russian ballet dancer who also starred as Alexander Petrovsky in Sex and the city. The photo surprised Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rob Besserer, on Cumberland Island, Georgia, 1990. That wasn’t only their only collaboration: Annie Leibovitz got in front of the lens with Baryshnikov for Vuitton’s campaign in the Core Values series, which featured legends such as Sean Connery, Mikhail Gorbachev, Keith Richards, Buzz Aldrin, Roman and Sofia Coppola, and Catherine Deneuve.