In this new collection from Annie Leibovitz, one of the most influential photographers of our time, iconic portraits sit side by side never-before-published photographs. Afterword by Annie Leibovitz.
Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 is the photographer’s follow-up to her two landmark books, Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, 1970-1990 and A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005. In this new collection, Leibovitz has captured the most influential and compelling figures of the last decade in the style that has made her one of the most beloved talents of our time. Each of the photographs documents contemporary culture with an artist’s eye, wit, and an uncanny ability to personalize even the most recognizable and distinguished figures.
A few minutes into my conversation with Annie Leibovitz, she informs me that my premise is bogus. The terms she uses are gentler, but my idea—to discuss five or so individual pictures from her new book, Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005–2016, and give a behind-the-scenes sense of what goes into them—is not really the point, she warmly corrects me. “To me,” she says, “it’s not just about the individual pictures. The power in the effort that goes into creating a body of work—how the pictures are brothers and sisters to one another.”
You can create a whole new story in a book, Leibovitz says. The story of this particular volume began as the photographer was wrapping up her work on Women, another book-length project conducted with Susan Sontag. “I just had all this work I wanted to clear out,” Leibovitz tells me, “and I was excited by the idea that the book would end with Hillary Clinton—maybe I’d do a portrait of her in the White House.” Now, the photographer admits, the book “doesn’t quite have an ending—it meanders about.”
Before touring with the Rolling Stones, photographing Venus and Serena Williams, and shooting Queen Elizabeth II’s official portraits, Annie Leibovitz studied to become a painter. Her ambitions quickly shifted in the 1970s when she started photographing Vietnam War protests. One of those photographs, taken at Kent State, was the cover of the June 1970 issue of Rolling Stone. She later became Vanity Fair’s chief photographer. Among other achievements, in 2000, the Library of Congress named her a “Living Legend.”