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 one hundred and forty-two 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 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.
Exhibitions of Leibovitz’s work have appeared at museums and galleries all over the world, including the National Portrait Gallery and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the International Center of Photography in New York; the Brooklyn Museum; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris; the National Portrait Gallery in London; the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia; and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.