Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anne Geddes

Today’s WOD is world famous Photographer Anne Geddes, She is known for her stylized depictions of babies and motherhood. Typical images show babies or young children dressed as fairies and fairytale creatures, flowers, or small animals. She has described herself as "a baby freak.”

Anne was born in Queensland, Australia, on September 13, 1956, the third daughter in the family. Anne was raised on a vast 26,000-acre beef cattle property in North Queensland, Australia with her four sisters.

Growing up, she pored over magazines such as National Geographic and Life (her favorite), with their high values placed on the strength and quality of their photography. She loved images of people and remembers being fascinated by the concept of a single still image capturing an exact moment in time that could never be repeated.

When Anne was 17 she worked for a chain of hotels in New Zealand which enabled her to travel oversees for the first time. She documented her adventures with hundreds of photos; she was honing her skills and learning to appreciate the different qualities of natural light. When she was 22 she took a job at a local TV Station in Brisbane where she met her future husband Kel Geddes, the station’s program director. They married in Hong Kong in 1983.

She started a portrait business in Hong Kong and when they moved back to Sydney, Australia two years later, they welcomed their first daughter in 1984. Anne started doing portraits from their home and eventually she opened her own studio.

In 1988, Anne’s image of Gemma, a little girl standing in a tutu, taken previously in her studio in Melbourne, became her first published photograph, appearing in a local magazine in Auckland. The magazine feature on Anne and her photography and this image of Gemma created an interest in what was at the time a very different style of portraiture. After a short (“harrowing” in her words) experience as a wedding photographer, Anne decided to specialize in children’s portraiture, working out of her tiny new studio, Especially Kids, in Auckland.

Anne’s portraiture business was thriving, and in 1990, she decided to take one day a month to explore her inspirations and create an image purely for herself. The first and second images from these personal shoots were “Joshua” and “Rhys and Grant,” twins who became known as her “Cabbage Kids”—one of her most recognized photographs around the world.

In 1992, Annes husband Kel left his highly successful career as Network President of Programming for Australia’s Channel 10 and became Anne’s business partner, and the first Anne Geddes card collection was introduced in New Zealand, becoming an instant success. Anne placed 1st in two sections at the AGFA Photokina in Germany, among other awards and accolades. It was this level of professional recognition, coupled with a request to help raise money for the prevention of child abuse, and the success of Anne’s greeting cards that led to thoughts of producing a calendar.

It was ten years between the time Anne first photographed friends’ babies in Hong Kong and the publication of the first Anne Geddes calendar, released in New Zealand in 1992. When she was approached about increasing awareness of the prevention of child abuse, Anne recalled the shadow of her own emotionally barren childhood; this first opportunity to reach a wider audience with her images went hand-in-hand with her desire to help others and support children, the most vulnerable in our society. Anne and Kel were unable to attract a publisher and distributor, so they sold the calendar door-to-door from the back of their car and in camera store outlets, collecting more than US $20,000 to help prevent child abuse and neglect. Their charitable giving formed the basis for what later became the nonprofit Geddes Philanthropic Trust.

Her artistry continued to develop and Anne explored new expressions of her deeply held belief that we must protect, nurture, and love all children. In 1998, she and Kel formally founded the Geddes Philanthropic Trust and inaugurated the first Geddes Fellowship, a program to fund a dedicated primary physician concentrating in the identification, treatment, and research of child abuse and neglect—in this instance at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, Australia.

Continuing their charitable giving, more than $83,400 from the Geddes Philanthropic Trust was donated in 2005 to the UNICEF South Asia Tsunami Relief Effort. Following Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., Anne and Kel provided more than 20,000 items of Anne Geddes Baby clothing to benefit the babies affected.

In May 2011, the Geddes Philanthropic Trust was presented with the prestigious Award of Founder by the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children to honor the significant impact the Trust continues to have on the lives of children with serious illnesses, and for donations to the Westmead Children’s Hospital through the Geddes Fellowship Program started in 1999. Anne and Kel are now adding to the Trust's scope by assisting in maternal welfare in the many countries where childbirth is still a major issue regarding the health and wellbeing of both mother and child.

Today, Anne's award-winning images have been published in 83 countries spanning North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Her books have sold more than 18 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 24 languages.

Annes work is beautiful and just simply makes you smile but the fact that she has a passion for helping babies and mothers only makes her more awesome.