Art History 101

Our Favorite Annie Leibovitz Portraits

Equipped with a keen ability to capture the most recognizable faces in the world in an intimate manner, photographer Annie Leibovitz offers a rare glimpse of vulnerability of these powerful people to viewers, and her images are as iconic as her subjects. Her portraits are frequently on the covers of prestigious publications; most recently Leibovitz captured Jennifer Lawrence for the cover of the 125th anniversary issue of American Vogue. Through her unmistakable photographic style, viewers can view influential and compelling leaders in a seemingly approachable light.

Leibovitz first garnered attention as a staff photographer for Rolling Stone magazine in 1970. Within three years of joining staff, she was named Chief Photographer, a position she held for ten years. In the 1980’s, Leibovitz began working with Vanity Fair, where she has captured some of her most iconic portraits.

Throughout her career, there have been numerous exhibitions of Leibovitz’ works, and she has also released several artist books. Discover our favorite Annie Leibovitz portraits below.

One of her most iconic photographs features musician John Lennon and Yoko Ono in an intimate portrait hours before Lennon was killed outside his home in New York.

Leibovitz captured former President Barack Obama’s portrait for Vanity Fair right before he won the groundbreaking election in 2008; this simple yet captivating portrait showcases her signature style.

As the reigning queen of tennis, Serena Williams represents female strength and power, and Leibovitz captures that energy in a nuanced portrait showcasing power, strength, and femininity.

As a recipient of the 2015 National Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama, Katherine Johnson is a brilliant mathematician who worked at NASA for nearly 20 years, serving as a human computer equivalent. Leibovitz’s portrait of this remarkable woman, who broke down many barriers of entry for woman scientists, captures her poise and intellect.

In this portrait, Leibovitz captures the moody energy of actor Heath Ledger, who was at the peak of his career prior to his untimely death. In one of his last performances, Ledger played a manic antagonist that captivated audiences through his shocking antics as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Leibovitz’ uncanny ability to draw out further emotion and vulnerability from the most accomplished actors is makes her images so memorable.

Love reading about all things art? You can have articles from Canvas, curated collections, and stories about emerging artists delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for the Saatchi Art Newsletter.

About the Author

Evangelyn Delacare is the Associate Curator at Saatchi Art. Need help finding art? Contact her via our free Art Advisory service at