This Week in History


Birth of photographer Annie Leibovitz

October 2, 1949
Annie Leibovitz
Full image

Annie Leibovitz is one of the most famous and renowned photographers alive today.

Photo by Marc Silber of

Annie Leibovitz, one of the country's most gifted photographers, was born on October 2, 1949. Leibovitz is known for her stylized portraits of musicians and other celebrities, ranging from John Lennon and Yoko Ono, to Bette Midler, to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The photographs that gained her entry as a professional, however, were not focused on pop culture but on the land of Israel. Leibovitz spent time there while in college, and her pictures from that 1969 visit garnered enough attention to get a job at the music magazine, Rolling Stone.

By 1973, Leibovitz was Rolling Stone's chief photographer. She put together her first exhibit of photographs in 1983, which led to a book, Annie Leibovitz: Photographs (1983). That same year, Leibovitz left Rolling Stone for Vanity Fair, where she was able to shoot a broader range of subjects than she had at the music magazine. The American Society of Magazine Photographers named Leibovitz "Photographer of the Year" in 1984, and she is one of only two living photographers to have had an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery.

In 1999, Leibovitz and Susan Sontag collaborated on Women, a collection of over 200 photographs of women living in America at the end of the twentieth century. Although Leibovitz has spent much of her life photographing celebrities, Women presents portraits of a broad cross section of American womanhood. In addition to prominent actresses, artists, musicians, and first ladies, the book includes portraits of teachers, soldiers, coal miners, farmers, and activists.

In 2006, the Brooklyn Museum mounted an exhibition of Leibovitz's work entitled Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005. Leibovitz's book A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005, gathers the work in this show depicting both stunning stylized celebrity portraits and searing images of vibrancy, illness, and death drawn from her personal life with her family and with Susan Sontag. On March 5, 2010, Annie Leibovitz was presented with the 2010 Women of Distinction award from the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

To learn more about Annie Leibovitz, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: Photographers in the United States and This Week in History January 21, 1971, "Annie Leibovitz's first "Rolling Stone" cover features John Lennon"; Jewesses with Attitude, "Don’t call her Anna-Lou, or a lesbian".

Sources: Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia pp. 817-818;;

See events for a specific date

This Week in History offers a unique calendar of American Jewish experience—connecting specific dates throughout the year to an array of compelling historic events related to American Jewish women.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Birth of photographer Annie Leibovitz." (Viewed on April 23, 2014) <>.