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A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005 Paperback – November 3, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 134 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Annie Leibovitz’s photographic memoir of the past fifteen years in her life captures powerful, intimate moments. . . . She juxtaposes the most personal against the full-color flash of celebrities and the grandeur of the natural landscape against the bloody horror of war. A Photographer’s Life is a testament to a life lived large–and in full embrace.”—More magazine

“Her fans may be astonished both by the range of the work and the unstudied, everyday quality of some of the images–a family day at the beach, a newborn in the delivery room.”—Newsweek

“A revelation.”—Boston Sunday Globe

“Startling.”—Washington Post

About the Author

Annie Leibovitz was born on October 2, 1949, in Waterbury, Connecticut. Her father was an officer in the air force and her childhood was spent on a succession of military bases. She began her career as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone in 1970, while she was still a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. Her pictures have appeared regularly on magazine covers ever since, and her large and distinguished body of work encompasses some of the most well-known portraits of our time.

Leibovitz’s first major assignment was for a cover story on John Lennon. She became Rolling Stone’s chief photographer in 1973, and by the time she left the magazine, ten years later, she had shot 142 covers and published photo-essays on scores of stories, including her memorable accounts of the resignation of Richard Nixon and of the 1975 Rolling Stones tour. In 1983, when she joined the staff of the revived Vanity Fair, she was established as the foremost rock music photographer and an astute documentarian of the social landscape. At Vanity Fair, and later at Vogue, she developed a large body of work–portraits of actors, directors, writers, musicians, athletes, and political and business figures, as well as fashion photographs–that expanded her collective portrait of contemporary life. In addition to her editorial work, she has created several influential advertising campaigns, including her award-winning portraits for American Express and the Gap. She has also collaborated with many arts organizations. Leibovitz has a special interest in dance, and in 1990 she documented the creation of the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Mark Morris.

Several collections of Leibovitz’s work have been published. They include Annie Leibovitz: Photographs (1983); Annie Leibovitz: Photographs 1970—1990 (1991); Olympic Portraits (1996); Women (1999), in collaboration with Susan Sontag; American Music (2003); and Annie Leibovitz at Work (2008), a first-person commentary on her career, from her coverage of the resignation of Nixon to the commissioned portraits of Queen Elizabeth II. Exhibitions of her work have appeared at museums and galleries all over the world, including the National Portrait Gallery and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.; the International Center of Photography in New York; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris; and the National Portrait Gallery in London. The exhibition A Photographer’s Life, 1990—2005 opened at the Brooklyn Museum and toured internationally.

Leibovitz is the recipient of many honors. In 2006 she was decorated a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. The previous year, in a compilation of the forty top magazine covers of the past forty years by the American Society of Magazine Editors, she held the top two spots (#1 for the photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken for Rolling Stone the day Lennon was shot, and #2 for the pregnant Demi Moore in Vanity Fair). Leibovitz has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. She lives in New York with her three children, Sarah, Susan, and Samuelle.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081297963X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812979633
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 1.4 x 13.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ANNIE LEIBOVITZ is one of the most celebrated and admired photographers of our time. She began her work photographing for Rolling Stone magazine and quickly established a reputation as a chronicler of popular culture, eventually becoming a contributing photographer at Vanity Fair and Vogue. Her first book, Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, was published in 1983. In 1999 she published the bestselling Women, with a Preface by Susan Sontag, for which the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington exhibited a selection of portraits in conjunction with the hardcover publication.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After seeing the exhibition (which was fantastic) the book was a sad let down for me and I returned it. Photos were cropped detroying the ambiance or the layout Leibovitz captured and aparently intended in her prints - photos were designed across a spread in such a way as interfered with the photo's integrity (one photo in particular has the page split running through the subject of the photo!). The personal photos of Sonatag in the show were very small and suggested a particular delicacy and intimacy which was lost in the book due to the relative sizing of those prints with all the others. It is a poor accompaniment to an excellent and important show of her work. If you never saw the show - you could propably let it slide - after seeing the show myself, I prefer not to have my memory tainted by an inferior product serving as representation.
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Format: Hardcover
GREAT PHOTOS BUT ANNOYING TO LOOK AT!!!! Visually this book is claustrophobic. The images seem forced to fit into a book that is too small to hold them. And probably half of the pictures are across the gutter--very annoying. Sometimes the most important part of the picture is in the gutter. My personal favorite is Michael Jordan with his nose in the gutter. Random House, if you are going to do a book on a great photographer like Annie Liebovitz, do a better job than this.
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Format: Hardcover
Annie Liebovitz, one of the world's most talented photographers, has released a book that is not as much an exhibit of her world-renowned photography as it is an open expression of her love for family and close friends. The famous people that we've come to expect from a Liebovitz release are still there, although extremely limited. This is more a baring of Annie's soul and personal feelings that one has rarely had the opportunity to see and feel. If you're buying this book for the usual Annie Liebovitz material, you would do best to ignore this release. If you're wanting to see a side of this photographer that the world has rarely seen, please don't hesitate to make the purchase.
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Format: Hardcover
I opened this book with anticipation. I washed my hands so I would not mar or fingerprint the photos. And I removed the dust jacket to keep it nice. Annie Leibovitz' artistry compels me to treat her artworks with respect and care. I appreciated the book's large size, because I love large, beautiful images.

Some people probably think portrait photographer's are gifted because they know how to stage a great photo. That is probably true. But I think the less often recognized talent is seeing who people become in the presence of a portraiture artist. When people are in Annie Leibovitz' presence, I think they may ask themselves: What images do I want to define me? What images do I want to represent me for a long time? Around Leibovitz, her subjects become regal, considered, relaxed, and sincere. Sure, the comedians are still cheesing it up for the camera sometimes. But most of her subjects realize this may be one of the few times an image will be created that may portray them in a substantive and enduring light.

In the introduction, Leibovitz' notes "But after Susan died, . . ." And when I read those words, the above thought formed in my head. Leibovitz' subjects realize her photos may be a dominant defining, popularly-known image of them after they are dead. So I think her subjects make extra effort to become something larger than 'everyday' in her presence.

I don't like to make criticisms in my reviews, and I tend to only review artworks I recommend. But it takes more than great photographs to make a great photography book. I was frustrated with the number of photographs that were enlarged across the book gutter, breaking up the photos' flows. Bigger is not always better and many of the photos would have been better as smaller images on one page.
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Format: Hardcover
The first thing about this book, you should know, IMO, is that most of the photos in this book are too big for one page, so they are presented split down the middle by the spine of the book. This is a TERRIBLE problem. Why would someone produce an image where the prime focal area is split down the middle? This alone ought to keep you from wasting your money on this hefty tome.

The second thing you should know - partly because some of the other Amazon reviewers have pointed it out - is that the vast majority of the photos in this book are shapshots of Susan Sontag, the author's intimate partner. But even if all this were potentially OK for me, I would still regret buying the book. See below.

The book evidently started as a personal memoir/elegy of Susan Sontag for distribution to friends at Sontag's funeral. I don't know what I was expecting. Half the book is a collection mostly of personal pictures of one famous person: Susan Sontag. Susan in the mountains, Susan at home, Susan on trips all over the place, Susan sleeping on the couch, etc. The remainder are devoted to celbrity photos and pictures of family, particularly Liebovitz's parents, many of which seem to have a snapshot quality of being unprepared. Too many of them fail to rise above this.

Liebovitz is well known as a photographer of celebrities. Those photos of are indeed imposing. There is a certain authority that Liebovitz brings to her journalistic photos. But this book is mostly not these portraits. It's about the author - which, by the way, is clearly stated as early as the title of the book. Many of these pictures are snapshots that, frankly, are mostly unremarkable.

A great artist can produce numerous pictures of the same subject. Think Cezanne.
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