From The London Times:
It was, as one tabloid headline put it, the Queen’s Annie Horribilis. A reported royal temper tantrum sparked last week’s mad hubbub in which the press jumped up and down reciting terrible puns, BBC bosses contritely laid their foreheads in the dust and there were calls for the world’s most famous celebrity photographer to have her head chopped off. When Annie Leibovitz asked the Queen to remove her crown during a photo shoot at Buck Palace, she little suspected she would become the subject of what picture editors quaintly call a “reverse ferret”.
But such failures are rare. Nearly 6ft tall and often clad in black, the 57-year-old photographer can seem intimidating. After all, Leibovitz has clocked up a lot of mileage. She was 24 when she became Rolling Stone magazine’s chief photographer and only a year older when she rode out on Richard Nixon’s helicopter as he fled the White House. She toured America with the Rolling Stones and picked up a cocaine habit that took five years to shed. Now she is the world’s highest paid portrait photographer, worth £50,000 a shoot. Up close, say interviewers, she is witty and warm, attributing her joie de vivre to late motherhood. She was 52 when her daughter Sarah was born in 2001, sending the gossip columns into overdrive.
Bizarrely, they announced she had had a baby with Susan Sontag, the writer. In fact, Leibovitz had conceived with donated sperm, and in 2005 her twins Susan and Samuelle were born to a surrogate mother. The exact nature of her 15-year relationship with Sontag has been a subject of speculation. “Susan and I are really just really great, great friends but we don’t live together,” she insisted. They shared the same block in the West Village but not the same apartment. Later, she conceded in her book A Photographer’s Life that “with Susan, it was a love story”. She finally said the term “lover” was fine with her.