She shot her first pictures when she was in Philippines during the Vietnam War and started her photography career in 1970 in Rolling Stones magazine that was just launched at that time. Jann Wenner, the founding editor of the magazine, was stunned with her work and gave her the first assignment, taking a photo of John Lennon for the cover page.
As early as in 1973 she was named chief photographer of Rolling Stones, worked for it until 1983, and managed to create the unique brand look of the magazine by brilliantly capturing illustrative pictures of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Patti Smith, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, and more.
Her style in the beginning of her career—influenced by the works of Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson—was characterized by the intimacy of photos and a strong personal connection with the subject.
Later in 1980 she would make another photo of the rock star with Yoko Ono with one of the first Polaroid cameras ever. In an attempt to make something like the cover of the couple's 1980 Double Fantasy album, she told the singer to put off his clothes and curl up next to Yoko kissing her. This deeply touching image became historical and, as John Lennon himself mentioned, exactly depicted their relationship. The photo became his last professional picture as just five hours after taking it Lennon was shot.
In the next years Lebovitz developed her new style known by the focus on lighting and bold colors—the technique which she had to master all by herself since color photography was not yet around at the time when she studied at San Francisco Art Institute—and began to work for Vanity Fair magazine. During her work there she made portrait pictures of Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Ford, Leonardo DiCaprio, Keith Haring, and others.
Afterwards Annie Lebovitz collaborated with Vogue and many famous brands. She became one of the world's first renowned woman photographers and nowadays she is seen as the best portrait photographer in the world with one of the most captivating portfolios among her colleagues.
She won her recognition through establishing a deep physical involvement with her subjects and capturing it in a simple but impressing way.
"You don't have to sort of enhance reality", she says. "There is nothing stranger than truth."
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