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A Love Letter to the Alpha Females

Annie Leibovitz revisits a portrait series she began with the late Susan Sontag.

Laura Poitras, New York City, 2015.


Annie Leibovitz is allowed to double-dip: Given her countless covers for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stone, her multiple books and awards, and her reputation as the foremost portrait photographer in America, she can basically do whatever she wants—and that includes revisiting earlier projects.

Back in 1999, in collaboration with her romantic partner, the late writer and activist Susan Sontag, she published Women, a compendium of portraits reflecting the changing roles of women in today’s society. Sontag called the book “a work in progress.”

Fast-forward 17 years, and Leibovitz has work in progress for an international exhibition of these photos that lands in the Presidio this month. She’ll be adding portraits of luminaries from locales that will be hosting the exhibit. At press time Bay Areans like Sheryl Sandberg and Alice Waters were already in, alongside women from Misty Copeland to Amy Schumer.

The exhibition Women: New Portraits is on view from March 25 to April 17 at Crissy Field. 

Originally published in the March issue of San Francisco

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