Annie, Get Your Gals!

Can a New York portraitist capture the soul of Texas womanhood? Shoot, yes.

The book was a vision of women in America,” says Annie Leibovitz of Women, her latest collection of photographs, “and I thought, ‘Where can I properly approach a subject that’s so big?’” Not surprisingly, one answer was Texas. “It’s a miniature America,” she says. “It had the breadth and variety and individuality I wanted.” Sentiment also played a part: A military brat, she attended fifth and sixth grade in Fort Worth.

Enlisting the research assistance of fellow photographer Christina Patoski, a longtime resident of Fort Worth, Leibovitz cruised the state shooting a panoply of Texas women, from a gospel singer to a convicted murderer, from a Lowrider magazine beauty queen to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Says Patoski: “We had two shoots in Houston on the same day—one with socialites dressed to the nines and the other with a small-time-carny lady who lives in a really rough neighborhood. Two completely different subjects, but Annie treated them exactly the same.”

Ultimately, 15 photos of Texans made the final cut of 117 for Women. Nine appeared in the print magazine along with two outtakes, one of a West Texas rancher and the other of San Antonio debutantes. “Annie loves people, and she loves Texas,” says Patoski. “She took enough pictures here for six books. She doesn’t have what you might think is the typical New Yorker attitude about Texas. She really gets it.”

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