To be photographed as husband and wife with such profundity, like this bold and infamous portrait of John and Yoko, certainly immortalizes relationships. It is strong and stunning – like their adoration for each other.
On December 1980, Annie Leibovitz was assigned to photograph John Lennon and Yoko Ono. She was Rolling Stone’s chief photographer at the time. Initially, Annie attempted to photograph just John alone but he insisted that Yoko be on the cover, too. Annie, inspired by the album cover of Double Fantasy, tried to recreate something like it. For the lovers’ portrait, she imagined that the two would pose together nude.
Yoko was reluctant to take her clothes off. She claimed that she could take her top off but not her pants. Disappointed, Annie asked her to just leave everything on. John, disrobed, curled up beside and wrapped himself around a fully clothed Yoko. Annie used an instant camera to capture the moment. Instantly, the three knew right away that it was a profound image. John and Yoko exclaimed to Annie, “You’ve captured our relationship exactly.”
Sadly, after several hours, John was assassinated in front of his apartment. The photograph ran on the January 1981 cover of Rolling Stone magazine to commemorate the former Beatle. In 2005, it was voted by the American Society of Magazine Editors as the best magazine cover of the last 40 years.
Which other photographs do you think are influential? Post a hyperlink to the image in the comments – if you know it, please include the photographer’s name and the year the photo was taken.
Our intention with the Influential Photographs columns is not to glorify or demean the subject of the photo. Our intention with this column is to highlight the most influential analogue photographs of history. The photographs we feature are considered icons, for their composition, subject matter, or avant-garde artistic value.