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Photography

Anne Geddes: On Her Life and Work

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Just because you didn’t get to go to that awesome photography conference doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something from the pros! Occasionally, we’ll be featuring a recommended photography lecture or interview on Phototuts+.

When I meet new people and they find out that I'm a photographer, I often try to ask the question, "what famous photographers do you know?" In my experience, the average person (at least in the U.S.) may know two or three. I don't know what that says for our art considering that with the exception of writing, photography stands as a one of the most highly consumed media. You may see two films a month or listen to ten songs a day, but that doesn't compare to how many photos you're presented.

The first response people have to my question is usually Ansel Adams. It's a good choice, no doubt. But after that it gets blurry. Annie Leibowitz, maybe. And then, "Oh, who's the lady that takes pictures of babies... Anne Geddes!"

Among photographers, especially the crowd of photojournalists I usually find myself in, I would not say that she's popular. For a lot of us serious documentarians, her "cutesy" style is just too much. I find the same opinion among some fine art photographers. But the answer came up again for me recently, so I decided to look into her more.

I found this 2008 interview with the Australian-born photographer on a New Zealand show called Between the Lines. (It's a two-parter, probably posted before YouTube allowed longer videos).

I have to say that this has changed my opinion of Geddes and her work. Her life is pretty fascinating. And after poking around a little on the geddesgroup YouTube Channel, I have found that she is a ninja of studio lighting and small scale composition. Her creative ideas for portraits are what draw the public to her work, but if you're not a fan of those, you can at least appreciate her masterful execution of those ideas.

If you get chance, I recommend checking out her series of behind-the-scenes video from 2008 as well. You can see her working with her giant 4x5 camera.

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