Photographer Annie Leibovitz is out with a new book -- entitled simply Women. Writer Susan Sontag contributes an essay describing the volume's 123 photographs:

Annie and Linda
Annie Leibovitz and Linda Wertheimer
Khue Bui/Associated Press
"This is what women are now, as different, as varied, as heroic, as forlorn, as conventional, as unconventional ... as THIS."

"This" includes ladies at lunch with smiling, glamorous lifted faces and young women soldiers wearing muddy camouflage. There are women at work,

groups of women, athletes in action, muscles straining. There are plain, head on portraits of women looking straight into the camera, some are famous, some not. Some in color, some in black and white -- like the picture of the photographer's mother, Marilyn, who is seventy five, gazing calmly at her daughter behind the camera.

Linda and Annie
Annie Leibovitz and Linda Wertheimer
Khue Bui/Associated Press
The notion of diversity is the most powerful image of this show. Through her camera, Annie Leibovitz shows us all kinds of women. Some present themselves with art. Others stand and look at the camera. A few, like the Los Vegas chorus girls, do both.

It's a set of pictures that captures women changing, aging, working, as Susan Sontag says, a very American project, generous, ardent, open ended. It's for us to decide, she says, what to make of these pictures.

Some of the pictures are in November's Vogue magazine -- and in a major exhibit that goes on view next week at the Corcoran Gallery of Art here in Washington.

Annie Leibovitz was at the Corcoran this week while workers installed the show -- hanging the pictures -- lighting them. Huge photographs -- many of them larger than life -- six foot digital prints.

audio button All Things Considered host Linda Wertheimer visited the exhibit as it was being mounted and spoke to the photographer. Listen as she describes her visit and shares her conversation with Annie Leibovitz about the book, the photographs, and the stories behind them.