7 Things We Love About Annie Leibovitz on Her Birthday

Few reach the kind of legendary status that she has achieved in her lifetime.

Annie Leibovitz attends the press conference of WOMEN: New Portraits By Annie Leibovitz, Commissioned By UBS on September 6, 2016 in Milan, Italy. Photo by Matteo Valle/Getty Images for UBS.

Few photographers reach the kind of legendary status that Annie Leibovitz has achieved in her lifetime, and on her 67th birthday this October 2, she’s just getting started.

Leibovitz was a military brat, taking photos wherever she and her family were stationed. According to the Observer, the earliest images she took were in the Philippines during the Vietnam War. Her commercial career took off in 1970 after taking a job as a staff photographer for Rolling Stone. Three years later, she would be promoted to the department’s head, and would mold the magazine’s aesthetic throughout the better part of her twenties.

Today, her practice continues to make waves, as she takes on subjects such as the Queen Elizabeth II, designer Miuccia Prada, and perhaps even Elena Ferrante, if she gets her wish.

On the occasion of her birthday, artnet News is celebrating the photographer with seven quotes on the importance of being yourself.

Annie Leibovitz on February 17, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images.

Annie Leibovitz on February 17, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images.

1. On diplomacy:
“There certainly are people who are a pain to work with. I’d be crazy to name them. You can’t be indiscreet in this business.”

2. On keeping it real:
When someone says, “You really captured that person,” I laugh, because a portrait is really just a moment with somebody. You can get very close to what a person is about if you go off and spend a year with them. But the reality is you’re in and out, usually in a day or two.”

3. On doing things on her own terms:
“I’ve never liked the word celebrity. I like to photograph people who are good at what they do.”

4. On perspective:
“One of the great things about being an older person is that I am very aware of the scope of the work and the historical sense of it. It’s bigger than me.”

5. On taking a position
“I personally made a decision many years ago that I wanted to crawl into portraiture because it had a lot of latitude. I realized I couldn’t be a journalist because I like to take a side, to have an opinion and a point of view; I liked to step across the imaginary boundary of the objective view that the journalist is supposed to have and be involved.”

6. On love:
“[Susan Sontag and I] took care of each other. I had great respect and admiration for her, and I wanted to make everything possible for her, whatever she needed. I felt like a person who is taking care of a great monument.”

7. On trusting her gut:
“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.”

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