U.S. photographer Annie Leibovitz was named here Thursday as this year's recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities.

Leibovitz, 63, who is known for portraits of celebrities such as music icons Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, is one of the world's most acclaimed contemporary photographers.

Her work is characterized by a "painstaking, sophisticated staging and by a studied use of lighting that lends her photos a characteristic atmosphere," the Prince of Asturias Foundation's Web site said.

The photographer beat out international photographic cooperative Magnum Photos and British-Iranian journalist and television host Christiane Amanpour in the final round of voting.

The Connecticut native studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute while also taking photography classes in the evening.

She began working at Rolling Stone in 1970, prior to finishing her studies, and became that magazine's head of photography three years later.

In 1983, when her photos had already graced 142 covers, she left that publication to join the editorial launch of the new Vanity Fair. Since 1998, she also has worked for Vogue magazine.

Since deciding to give up photojournalism in the early 1980s - after covering the Lebanon War for Rolling Stone - and focus on portraits, Leibovitz has become one of the most highly respected photographers in Europe and America, the jury's minutes said.

Leibovitz's work has been featured in exhibits at museums and galleries worldwide, including the Smithsonian Institute's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, where she became the first woman and second living photographer to exhibit there.

"I am very happy that the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities has recognized the work of Annie Leibovitz, a worldwide symbol of photographic portraiture," Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, winner of the 1988 Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts, said in a statement.

The Communication and Humanities is the third of eight Prince of Asturias Award winners to be announced this year, after the Arts and Social Sciences prizes were bestowed on Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke and Dutch sociologist Saskia Sassen, respectively.

The Communication and Humanities prize recognizes "the person, institution, group of people or group of institutions whose work or research constitutes a significant contribution to universal culture," the Prince of Asturias Foundation says.

Along with a cash prize of 50,000 euros (about $64,000) and a sculpture by Joan Miro that symbolizes the awards, each award recipient gets a diploma and an insignia bearing the Prince of Asturias Foundation's coat of arms.

The prizes, which Spain's Crown Prince Felipe will hand out at a ceremony in the fall in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, are regarded as the Ibero-American world's equivalent of the Nobels EFE