ANNE LEIBOVITZ

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By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Annie Leibovitz.

Born into a military family, Annie first dabbled in photography in the Philippines, where her father was stationed during the Vietnam War. She headed to the San Francisco Art Institute, where she majored in painting, but she became so taken with photography after one workshop that she changed her major.

She was hired by the fledgling magazine Rolling Stone in 1970, and over the next decade put the publication on the map with her stunning portraits of the biggest names in music. On December 8, 1980, she took one of the most iconic photos in history of a nude John Lennon embracing a fully-clothed Yoko Ono. He was shot and killed mere hours later.

Annie is credited with elevating magazine photography as an art form. In recent years, she has frequently contributed to Vogue, and photographed everyone from Barack Obama to Mark Zuckerberg to Serena Williams. She managed to anger Queen Elizabeth II by asking her to remove a tiara, but that hasn’t stopped the monarch from commissioning her three times.

In 1991, Annie became the first woman to hold an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in D.C. Her captivating and distinctive way of viewing the world makes her one of the most prolific artists working today, and I regularly feature her work in these profiles of other incredible women.

“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”

“I didn't want to let women down. One of the stereotypes I see breaking is the idea of aging and older women not being beautiful.”

“There's an idea that it's hard to be a woman artist. People assume that women have fewer opportunities, less power. But it's not any harder to be a woman artist than to be a male artist. We all take what we are given and use the parts of ourselves that feed the work. We make our way. Photographers, men and women, are particularly lucky. Photography lets you find yourself. It is a passport to people and places and to possibilities.”

“You have trust in what you think. If you splinter yourself and try to please everyone, you can’t. It’s important to stay the course. I don’t think I would have lasted this long if I’d listened to anyone. You have to listen somewhat and then put that to the side and know that what you do matters.”

“I'm more interested in being good than being famous.”

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