One of the world’s most respected and well-known photographers, Anne Geddes creates images that are iconic, award winning and beloved. Like no photographer before, her imagery singularly captures the beauty, purity and vulnerability of children embodying her deeply held belief that each and every child must be “protected, nurtured and loved”.
After moving to Auckland, New Zealand, with Kel her husband, who launched the first commercial television network in New Zealand in 1988; Anne set up her first official studio. Anne’s first ever photograph to be published was in a local New Zealand magazine. This feature on Anne and her photography created an interest in, what was seen to be at the time, a very different style of portraiture.
Anne’s portraiture business thrived, and in 1990 she decided to take one day a month to explore her inspiration and create an image purely for herself in order to maintain her artistic drive. One image from these personal shoots was “Rhys and Grant”, twins who became known as the “Cabbage Kids”; still one of her most recognized photographs around the world.
In 1992 Anne’s first greeting card collection was introduced in New Zealand, becoming an instant success. In the same year Anne placed 1st in two sections at the AGFA Photokina competition, among other photographic awards and accolades. It was this level of professional recognition; coupled with an offer to help raise money for the prevention of child abuse, that led to the production of her first calendar. Anne elected to give money from the sale toward the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Since it’s inception in 1992, The Geddes Philanthropic Trust has designated funds from the range of Anne Geddes products totaling more than US$5.7 million to help prevent child abuse and neglect in countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Today, Anne’s calendars continue to be extremely successful with the 2017 calendar marking the 26th continuous edition.
In the following year, inspired by reading bedtime stories full of fantasy characters to their daughters, Anne began to envision a fairy tale told through photography which lead to the creation of her first large-format, coffee table gift book “Down in the Garden”. The book was published in 1996 and led to Anne’s first appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Oprah’s chat with Anne and her enthusiastic appreciation of Anne’s imagery ignited interest in Anne’s images in the United States; a previously un-taped market for Anne’s work.
The success of “Down in the Garden” changed the face of family and children’s portraiture globally and launched Anne’s international career as a bestselling author. It became a runaway New York Times Best Seller, rising to #3 and remaining on the list for three months; returning the following year to once again earn a place on the Best Seller list. There are over one and a half million copies in print today.
Anne’s photographic career had gained momentum and her place in the international photographic community was solidified when in 1997 when Anne was awarded a Lifetime Membership in the Professional Photographers of America Association. She was invited to present the keynote address at the PPA convention in Las Vegas that same year.
Also in 1997, Anne received an Honorary Fellowship with the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers (NZIPP) in recognition of her unique style of photography and her success.
In addition to accumulating the most merits ever granted to an individual photographer, Anne was the first woman to earn a Fellowship from the Institute through its awards system. Today she is the Patron of that same Institute.
“Until Now”, Anne’s 2nd coffee table book, was published in 1999. Printed in eight languages, this large-format photographic retrospective was a London Sunday Times bestseller and was the #1 Bestselling Illustrated Book on the Livre Hebdo list in France. It received the “Kodak Fotobuch Preis 1998,” called “the most prestigious award an illustrated book can receive in Germany.”
With the growing success of her business, Anne continued to ensure an important focus of her work was to raise the awareness of the prevention of child abuse and neglect. The Geddes Philanthropic Trust gained momentum and several exciting opportunities were put in place to actively help the community. In 1998, a Geddes Fellowship program to fund a dedicated primary physician concentrating on the identification, treatment and research of child abuse and neglect commenced at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, Australia.
In 2002, Anne and Kel received the Childhelp USA Humanitarian Award for their work in helping to prevent child abuse resulting from their donations toward the Childhelp 1800 helpline across America.
During this time Anne was also creating her next project. Five years in the making, and launched simultaneously in Europe and the USA, Anne’s 3rd coffee table book “Pure” was an impressive visual statement of the new directions
Anne was pursuing in photography and received international acclaim. It remained at #1 on the Barnes and Noble Best Photographic Books bestseller list for 10 straight weeks. In “Pure”, newborns were captured in their purest form as Anne explained, “to emphasize the fact that they are vulnerable, fragile, and very precious human beings.” “Pure” also featured several photographs of pregnant women, a previously unseen side of Anne’s photographic work; “Real women in the full bloom of pregnancy radiate serenity and promise. Mothers enfold babies in their arms – highlighting the beautiful bond between them and revealing our shared humanity.”
Published simultaneously in 22 countries in 2004, “Miracle”, Anne’s 4th coffee table book with Celine Dion, was an instant New York Times bestseller and remained on the list for six weeks. The large-format book was also a Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and BookSense bestseller and was awarded the “Family Choice Award” as “Best Picture Book 2005” by the Family Magazine Group.
In Germany, “Miracle” was a prestigious GEO magazine bestseller. It was also a Livre Hebdo Illustrated Books bestseller in France. “Miracle” was packaged with a companion Miracle audio CD by Celine (Sony Music) and a making-of the- book DVD.
That same year Anne was honored to be appointed a “Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit”, M.N.Z.M., “for services to photography and the community,” which was announced as part of Queen Elizabeth II‘s Birthday Honors List.
Two years later in 2006, Anne and Kel established the Geddes Fellowship at the Children’s Hospital at Orange County, California, with the hospital’s Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) team. A Geddes Fellowship was also established in 2007 at the Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. An essential part of this Fellowship was a travel grant to other hospitals around the world to enable communication and an exchange of ideas and findings.
With the release of many books, greeting cards and calendars, Anne felt that it was time she shared her personal story. And in 2007 she released “A Labor of Love” (2007). Published in 8 countries, Anne’s eagerly anticipated autobiography was released to international acclaim. She shared her personal story, family snapshots, behind the scenes anecdotes and a select portfolio of never-before-published images.
Anne has said “working on “A Labor of Love” has allowed me much pleasurable time to reflect on what has been an extraordinary journey…I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to follow my own dreams and passions, and my true hope is that, through the process, I have created a body of images that will have a profoundly positive effect far into the future. In the past it has often been difficult to adequately describe why I do what I do with such passion and commitment….Finally I have the uninterrupted opportunity to do so!”
In January 2009, the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) honored Anne with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Not given every year, this award is only designated on merit to a select few whose body of work has enriched professional photography. Anne was also honored to be the keynote speaker at the conference, where she spoke to an over capacity audience.
In March 2009, Anne and Kel received The Children’s Hospital Benefactor Award, presented by Royal Alexandria Hospital for Children, for services to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, Australia. Later that year in June 2009, the State of Queensland in Australia, where Anne was born, recognized Anne’s contribution to the State’s history as part of its 150th year celebration.
Inspired by the inward reflection of the creation of her autobiography, Anne began work on her most personally rewarding photographic project to date, a book titled “Beginnings”.
“I have always been fascinated by elements of nature at the moment of transformation,” said Anne. “Babies are the human face of beginnings, but all of nature is caught in this insistent stream of seasons, of aging and rebirth, of concealment and bursting forth. Every time I unwrap a newborn, even after all these years of photographing them, I am aware of the miracle before me.
This book, “Beginnings” took me on a journey of discovery to reveal these everyday miracles of nature, these complementary wonders, in imagery.” In “Beginnings”, Anne presented the simple and elegant elements of nature as had never been seen before. This was also her first opportunity to share with the world her private passion for photographing flowers. In “Beginnings”, Anne revealed through her photographs the intricate beauty of birds’ nests, the delicacy of eggs, and the glorious color hidden inside the tight, unopened petals of a blossom before it blooms. Then expanding on this visual metaphor to reveal surprising and illuminating juxtapositions of beginnings in floral and human forms.
“Beginnings”, her sixth coffee table book is Anne’s most awarded book to date.
It was named the winner in the Photography category of the USA ‘Best Books 2011’ Awards and received the Gold Medal for Best Coffee Table Book in the 2011 American Independent Publisher Book Awards. The German edition of “Beginnings” was also the Portraits Category Winner in the FEP (Federation of European Photographers) European Photo Book of the Year 2010. “Beginnings” reached #11 on the Bestselling Photography Books of 2011 list in the USA.
In 2012 Anne and Kel expanded their philanthropy to a new level. After meeting with the United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon during his trip to Australia, Anne was proud to announce her partnership with the United Nation’s Every Woman Every Child initiative, which she hopes will continue to help make the health and welfare of pregnant women and newborn children a global priority.
Anne then focused on an important campaign within the United Nation’s Foundation, becoming the Global Advocate for the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign, which aims to provide access to basic life-saving immunizations to children in the developing world.
In April 2012, Anne attended and spoke at the launch of Shot@Life in Atlanta, USA which was also attended by Kathy Calvin, Chief Executive Officer, United Nations Foundation and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.
During this time Anne also returned to the studio, and began to photograph a series of images that embraced the iconic photographic style that originally made her a household name.
The catalyst for this project, titled “Heartfelt”, came when Anne was announced the Ambassador to The Woolmark Company, a sector of the Australian Wool Board that aims to raise awareness of the health benefits of natural merino wool in the use of baby clothing and blankets.
Anne was asked to create a new version of the iconic Woolmark logo for their ‘Woolmark Nurture’ campaign which focused on brands specifically for mothers and babies. Anne created an additional 14 images in the Heartfelt series, which featured beautiful babies with handmade props made exclusively from 100% pure Australian Merino Wool. Since Anne’s early work in “Pure” and “Until Now”, she had used wool extensively in the props and costumes seen in some of her most loved photos. Anne says of the series; “When I first started going back to my archives, I was quite surprised how naturally I was drawn to wool from the very start. It is such a lovely, natural fiber to work with, and I am very happy with the way we have been able to produce so many different images.”
2013 also proved an exciting year in Anne’s philanthropic endeavors.
In September 2013 Anne began a photographic series featuring survivors of meningococcal disease. The campaign partnered Anne with meningococcal disease support groups from around the world. Shooting in Sydney, London and Toronto, Anne photographed 15 families across three continents who had experienced the impact of meningococcal disease.
Through a series of emotive and inspirational photographs, the campaign aims to educate parents about the threat of meningococcal disease and the importance of prevention through immunization, whilst celebrating survivors and honoring those who have lost their lives to the disease
Anne hopes the campaign will inspire parents to do what they can to protect their children against this terrible disease. “You just need to look at one of these children and you’ll understand the impact of this devastating disease. I’ve never met a parent who doesn’t want to protect their child, and as a mother it really would be your worst nightmare to see your child go through such an ordeal. We need to empower parents to understand meningococcal disease, to and know their options to help protect their children.
It is my goal that these images will capture the inspiration and strength of these survivors, and at the same time I want their own parents to look at the images and think their children have never looked so beautiful.”
An eBook of the images, titled “Protecting our Tomorrows”, launched and supported by Apple made it a “#1 most downloads” eBook in the Arts and Entertainment section of Apple iTunes for over two weeks in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, France and Germany.
Throughout 2014 Anne spoke travelled extensively to present the series in exhibition form in Paris, Hamburg, Toronto, Ottawa, and most recently at a prestigious event and exhibition in Washington D.C.
Anne also contributed her support and imagery to the March of Dimes campaign starting in 2014, which aims to share the best perinatal health in the hopes of improving birth outcomes around the world, specifically to help prevent premature births. Anne has an extensive personal and photographic relationship to premature birth. Her 1993 image of Jack Holding Maneesha continues to be one of her most well-loved images. Because of her trusted reputation and experience photographing in Neo-Natal Intensive Care Units in Auckland, Sydney and Doha Anne was invited to photograph an exclusive new image for the March of Dimes which was used for the 2014 World Prematurity Day campaign.
Anne was asked to be the March of Dimes Ambassador and Global Volunteer. Her image of premature baby Alfred was shared around the world on World Prematurity Day, with Anne also speaking at the official March of Dimes WPD event in Washington D.C. Anne’s photograph appeared across national and international media, including Time Magazine and a billboard in Times Square New York. A public service announcement featuring Anne also aired on CNN.
Giving back and creating awareness through the Geddes Philanthropic Trust will always be a part of Anne and her husband Kel's life.
Anne's latest body of work, 'Signs of the Zodiac' is out now.