When Benedikt Taschen asked the most important portrait photographer working today, Annie Leibovitz, to collect her pictures in a SUMO-sized book, she was intrigued by the challenge.
The project took several years to develop and when it was finally published in 2014, it weighed in at 7 pounds.
Leibovitz drew on more than 40 years of work, starting with the photojournalism she did for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s through the conceptual portraits she made for Vanity Fair and Vogue. She selected iconic images―such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono entwined in a last embrace―as well as portraits that had rarely, if ever, been seen before.
The Annie Leibovitz SUMO covered political and cultural history, from Queen Elizabeth II and Richard Nixon to Laurie Anderson and Lady Gaga.
“What I had thought of initially as a simple process of imagining what looked good big, what photographs would work in a large format, became something else,” Leibovitz says. “The book is very personal, but the narrative is told through popular culture. It’s not arranged chronologically and it’s not a retrospective. It’s more like a roller coaster.”