Anna-Lou Leibovitz (1949) was born in Waterbury, Connecticut.
She was one of six children born to Sam, an Air Force lieutenant, and Marilyn Leibovitz, a modern dance instructor. In 1967, Leibovitz enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute, where (although initially studying painting) she developed a love for photography.
After living briefly on an Israeli kibbutz, the statuesque Leibovitz returned to the U.S. and applied for a job with the start-up rock music magazine Rolling Stone in 1970. Impressed with Leibovitz’s portfolio, which included an image of counter-culture icon Allen Ginsberg, editor Jann Wenner offered her a job as a staff photographer. Within two years, the 23-year-old Leibovitz was promoted to chief photographer, a title she would hold for the next decade. Her position with the magazine afforded her the opportunity to accompany the Rolling Stones band on their 1975 international tour, though she lost herself from the experience and ended up grappling with a crippling drug addiction.
While with Rolling Stone, Leibovitz developed her trademark technique, which involved the use of bold primary colors and surprising poses, as seen with a 1979 Bette Midler cover inspired by the rock music film The Rose. Leibovitz is credited with making many Rolling Stone covers collector's items, including an issue that featured a nude John Lennon curled around his fully clothed wife, Yoko Ono. Taken on December 8, 1980, Leibovitz’s Polaroid of the former Beatle was shot just hours before his death.