How Award-Winning Photographer Anne Geddes is Taking Back Her Creative Career
With a photography career that spans decades and nations, Anne Geddes is no stranger to creativity. You can find her iconic images in the pages of bestselling books and calendars in more than 84 countries.
Anne’s career has also enabled her to become a global advocate, producing photography campaigns with the United Nations Foundation and the March of Dimes. Recently, she decided to connect with her audience through Patreon. We caught up with Anne to learn more about her career, her passions, and why a member of the International Photography Hall of Fame decided to join Patreon.
Creating Images of Joy
Referring to herself as a storyteller, Anne loves that babies represent “pure joy” in a world lacking it. Wanting to capture the goodness and innocence in children, Anne opened her first portraiture studio in New Zealand in 1988, evolving into greeting cards and calendars just four years later. The launch of these products was successful, launching her career of curating fairy tales in print through her iconic photography and landing her multiple New York Times bestsellers.
Evolving Your Business Model
The way we consume images has evolved significantly since Anne’s first publications. Each leap in technology has pushed printed products into lower demand while simultaneously making it difficult for Anne to protect her work from being easily shared and duplicated on the web. The arrival of the internet meant Anne had to not only evolve her creativity but her business model.
“[The internet] affected me a lot, to be honest. My whole way of operating has been completely changed on its head. I do private portraits, but it’s not really what my story is about. I was very fortunate in the years before the internet, in that I was able to create my own industry and tell my own story, which people loved.”
With the arrival of the internet and the ease of sharing digital images, Anne found it impossible to justify substantial production costs of some of her favourite creative endeavours. While she enjoyed the pursuit of fantastical portraiture, there was no longer a sensible way to sell her images while protecting them from being shared unlawfully.
Instead of falling into despondency, Anne decided to put the power of the internet to good use, finding new ways to share her work directly with her supporters through Patreon.
Tapping Into Community
Anne has been growing a fanbase of supporters from all over the world for decades, but rarely has she had the chance to interact with them on a personal basis. She recognises that being a creator can be inherently isolating, lacking the interactions and support of a traditional office environment.
“I think that the public needs to understand that creatives create because that’s what they do. Right? They don’t create for the money and that’s how they get taken advantage of.”
While the internet flipped Anne’s business model upside down, it also provided her with the opportunity to connect with fans who weren’t able to visit her at her studio. With more than 75,000 followers on Instagram, Anne knew where and who her fans were, she just needed to bridge the gap and find a way for her fans to do more than just click “follow”, “like”, and then scroll by her images. Now that’s she’s started her Patreon, she feels determined to find the same support she garnered early on in her career.
“I think that the public needs to understand that creatives create because that’s what they do. Right? They don’t create for the money and that’s how they get taken advantage of,” Anne shared. “But, when you’re creating, it’s because that’s who you are. Now I feel hopeful that I’ll get enough patrons, go back in the studio, get things moving again.”
Advocating for creativity
Earlier this year, Anne joined a group lobbying the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the CASE Act. The goal of this legislation is to make it more efficient and less expensive for artists and creatives to protect and defend their work from being pirated or stolen.
Making it easier for creatives to make a living from what you create is an important initiative for Anne. Although she’s just now started this new chapter via Patreon, she’s still using her experience to offer advice to other creators in her situation.
“It’s what you share and how you enjoy the journey. If you’re not being sincere with yourself and enjoying your journey as a creator then you won’t develop in any way.”
“Don’t go and look at what other people are doing too much. It has to come from you. I can just be ‘Anne Geddes’ because these people who are my patrons, that’s what they expect. Share as much of yourself as you can. If you’ve got patrons supporting you that’s because they are interested in what you’re doing. They like what you’re doing and they want to feel like a part of your family. Whether you’ve got five patrons or 21,000, it doesn’t matter,” Anne shared. “It’s what you share and how you enjoy the journey. If you’re not being sincere with yourself and enjoying your journey as a creator then you won’t develop in any way. It needs to come from within you. Finding confidence in yourself when you’re a beginning creator can be hard, but your patrons can give you that confidence.”