Photographer Anne Geddes writes in her autobiography “Labor of Love” about her childhood on a cattle farm in Australia, with an “emotionally remote mother and a father who regularly demeaned his children.”
She “grew up with no sense of self-worth,” according to the interview article “Anne Geddes’ newest baby is a ‘Labor of Love'” by Fran Henry, Plain Dealer Nov 07, 2007.
The article continues:
“It has taken the wisdom of my years to see that my childhood was not ideal,” Geddes said.
She quit school at 17 and left home. “I wanted to get on with my life,” she said, not that she had any idea what that life might look like.
Coming into focus
All she had was a vague sense that her life held promise. She remembered being 7 or 8, telling her mother there was “something I needed to do, but I didn’t quite know what it was.”
Her focus sharpened when she was 25. She picked up her husband Kel’s old 35 mm camera and, through trial and error, taught herself how to use it.
A publisher in Melbourne, Australia, rejected Anne Geddes’ early portfolio.
“You can’t just photograph babies,” he said flatly. As Geddes, 51, recalled, she laughed as she left his office. “He became known as the man who turned down Anne Geddes,” she said, smiling a bit.
I’m going to be the best
On New Year’s Eve 1984, she surprised herself when she announced to her husband and friends, “I’m going to be the best-known baby photographer in the world.” She doesn’t know where those words came from, but she believed them.
Her earliest venture was making personalized Christmas cards embossed with a photograph of her two daughters, an innovation so unusual that the local newspaper wrote about her.
Where I am meant to be
Not long after, a portrait in a Melbourne newspaper stopped her in her tracks.
“I was taken by it and called the photographer. I asked, Would you like an unpaid assistant?”
The photographer said yes. “I walked inside the studio and said to myself, This is where I am meant to be.”
And babies were meant to be her life. “It sounds like a cliche,” she said, “but I love babies. They’re my passion. They’re pure. There’s no such thing as a mean-spirited baby. And a baby represents so much potential.”
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Wikipedia notes “Geddes’ books have been published in 83 countries. According to Amazon.com, she has sold more than 18 million books and 13 million calendars. In 1997, Cedco Publishing sold more than 1.8 million calendars and date books bearing Geddes’ photography.
“Her debut book, Down in the Garden, made it to the New York Times Bestseller List. Her books have been translated into 23 different languages.”
Also see her site annegeddes.com
Labor of Love: An Autobiography, by Anne Geddes.
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Trauma takes many forms, and has different sources and levels of impact for each of us.
Many artists have experienced rape, physical abuse and other experiences, including Alice Sebold, Allison Anders, SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy), Halle Berry, Lady Gaga, will.i.am, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonathan Safran Foer and many others.
See my article “Creative People, Trauma and Mental Health” (which includes link to the Emotional Health Resources page with videos, book quotes, programs and other resources).
Learning photography from Anne Geddes
Video: Step Inside the Anne Geddes Studio
This is an intro video for her online class
Inside the Studio course by Anne Geddes
The class summary notes:
“Anne Geddes is the world’s foremost baby photographer — a beloved cultural icon known for her iconic, playful images of newborns.
“Join us for a never-before-seen behind-the-scenes look at the making of an Anne Geddes calendar.
“This unique event is a rare opportunity to watch Anne at work.
“Inside the Studio with Anne Geddes gives you an inside look at her practice and process as she creates three wholly new images. You’ll watch Anne as she photographs individual children, all in her one-of-a-kind, signature style.”