Avedon published in 1959 a book of photographs titled, "Observations" with text supplied by Truman Capote. Among those he photographed in the book were Pablo Picasso, Buster Keaton, Mae West, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
After this he expanded his work by documenting patients of mental hospitals. He was lauded for his work as he was able to instill creativity and art into his images despite being out of the studio. His works were also of stark contrast with his other photos especially of celebrities. He would later photograph other non-celebrity subjects especially working class like drifters and carnival workers.
He also covered the Civil Right Movements of 1963 and the following year published the book, "Nothing Personal" with James Baldwin. He ended his two-decade long stay with Harper’s Bazaar to join Vogue magazine. He also covered anti-war movement in the UnitedStates during the late 60s and documented the struggle of war victims and military leaders in Vietnam. He also covered the historic fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990. In 1992, he became the original staff photographer of The New Yorker.
He was one of the ten greatest photographers in the world list published by Popular Photography Magazine. He also received an honorary doctorate in 1989 from the Royal College of Art in London.
Richard Avedon died due to brain hemorrhage on October 1, 2004 at the age of 81 years old.