Annette studied garden design in the UK and is based in France and Switzerland where she works as a garden designer, freelance garden writer and photographer. She’s mad about gardening and is enjoying the creation of her new garden in the Midi-Pyrenees, France. She writes about gardening, books, nature, food and the good life. Annette loves to share her passion and knowledge about gardens and nature and thinks the world would be a better place if there were MORE gardeners!
What sparked your interest in photography initially?
I'm a very creative person and I love nature and my garden. As a kid I had so much freedom and spent all my time outdoors - thus developing an intimate relationship with the natural world. I still have that childlike sense of wonder, and I'm fascinated by the beauty that surrounds us - sometimes very obvious, and sometimes only revealed when you take a closer look. Capturing this - often ephemeral - beauty and drawing the attention of others to it, fills me with great joy. I also hope that through my work I can (re)connect people with nature and make them realize that it's not something we can take for granted, quite the contrary: it's fragile and needs our respect and protection. Photography is like painting, so I'm constantly experimenting and trying to capture whatever takes my fancy in new directions. It's an endless voyage of discovery during which I not only get even closer to nature but also to myself. Light is very important to me. I often jokingly say that I'm a light junkie but it's true! I'm always chasing the best light, which sometimes complicates my job, as I just want to get everything perfect. But when it all comes together, I'm the happiest girl in the world.
What made you realize that you wanted to pursue photography as more than just a hobby?
Along with my design work, I'm writing for garden and travel magazines and have always supplied both images and text. It started off with smaller commissions and slowly turned into a bigger venture. Seeing that people were moved by the moods in my images and also gaining acknowledgment through competitions and exhibitions boosted my confidence. Although it's not the best paid job in the world, I just love what I'm doing. I love the creative side, being out and about and meeting interesting people.
Tell us about your experience transitioning from an amateur to a professional photographer - what were the biggest hurdles and misconceptions?
I think the biggest challenge in today's world is to make a living as a photographer because digital photography makes it so easy for everyone to do it albeit not always to a high standard. You only have to look at the image libraries where billions of pictures are available, most for free. Many expect images for free so it's important to make it clear that true photography is art and that it has to be rewarded accordingly. Marketing is crucial as well as social media, both taking up a lot of time which I'd rather spend shooting. I also went digital quite late, hanging on to my old equipment and probably influenced by my pro photographer pals at the time who refused to have anything to do with it, and I regret this a bit.
In your growth as a photographer, what has been the hardest thing (concept, piece of equipment, mindset, etc.) to learn that also provided the greatest reward once you learned it?
Apart from marketing, I guess the photo editing has been the hardest thing. I'm not a computer geek and still don't like spending too much time in front of my Mac. I had an almost unnatural respect for editing software when I started out, can't figure out why now because it’s all not that difficult in the end. The path through the editing/software jungle was rough and winding but now I've established a pretty good workflow which still needs some tweaking but I'm getting there.
What advice do you wish you had when you first started out? What advice would you give someone just starting their photographic journey today?
The sooner you get to know your equipment, the sooner you can start being creative and break the rules. This is where the fun starts. Don't be overwhelmed by the work of others. Don't copy, be YOURSELF. Always believe in yourself and your creativity - it's unique and it sets you apart. Then there's a lot of talk about personal style but I think it's a little overrated: I do not really like to be put in a box, I'd rather surprise and want to do lots of different things! Life is too short to try only one thing. I just love challenges because they make us grow.
Share a moment when you broke the rules of photography and created something spectacular.
Well, I feel choosing lensbaby lenses is breaking the rules. Ever since adding a Lensbaby to my kit, I’ve created many images that move me, like the snowdrop flower fairy story I shot with a friend in a local wood. I just love the motion images I took there as they’re full of joy and energy. It's a big challenge to do these shots with a manual focus lens but when you end up with some great pics, it’s very rewarding. Same for the wildlife shots with the composer and macro converter where you need lots of patience and stalking skills to bag some fine images. Can’t beat those moments when your own nose touches the nose of a butterfly!
How were you introduced to Lensbaby? How have you used Lensbaby lenses to help shape who you are as a photographer?
A couple of years ago, I came across images taken with a Lensbaby and was instantly intrigued by the special and sometimes dreamy look. I did some research, got myself the Composer Pro with Double Glass Optic and went on my first exciting Lensbaby trip. I've since added to my Lensbaby collection. What I love about them is that they challenge me as a photographer, spark my creativity and simply make me happy. My manual lenses are my favorites anyway - they make me approach each image differently. They make me think, it's a complex, holistic process. The lensbaby lenses are the most versatile I've ever come across. The possibilities are endless. I'm still exploring...only the sky is the limit...I do aerial photography as well and shall take my Lensbaby photography up with me next time to find out if it's true!
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