The famed photographer says she discussed the image with Cyrus and thinks it's "very beautiful"

By Ulrica Wihlborg
Updated April 28, 2008 02:10 PM
Credit: Pacific Coast News; Evan Agostini/AP

Photographer Annie Leibovitz is weighing in on her controversial Vanity Fair photograph of Miley Cyrus, in which the teenager appears to be topless, saying she finds the image “simple” and “beautiful.”

“I’m sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted,” says Leibovitz in a statement issued Monday. “Miley and I looked at fashion photographs together and we discussed the picture in that context before we shot it. The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little makeup, and I think it is very beautiful.”

After the image was leaked on the Internet over the weekend, Cyrus issued an exclusive statement to PEOPLE saying, “My goal in my music and my acting is always to make people happy. For Vanity Fair, I was so honored and thrilled to work with Annie. I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed.”

Cyrus’s parents were at the shoot, including her dad Billy Ray who also posed for photographs with his 15-year-old daughter. Although Cyrus s parents left before the controversial photograph – in which the singer is actually clothed but appears to be nude – was taken, her grandmother and her teacher were present.

Vanity Fair‘s spokeswoman, Beth Kseniak, said of the photo: “Miley’s parents and/or minders were on the set all day. Since the photo was taken digitally, they saw it on the shoot and everyone thought it was a beautiful and natural portrait of Miley.”