Annie Spratt is living proof that you don’t have to be a fully-fledged professional photographer with a lifetime of experience to be recognized for her incredible images. This year she was selected as one of 8 women to be included in the Hasselblad Heroine series – and she didn’t take to the camera until she was 38.
If you regularly use Unsplash or Instagram, chances are you’ve come across some of Annie’s work. She shoots beautiful natural landscapes with warm neutral tones often in and around her base in the New Forest, England. Shot entirely on film, Annie’s work is subtle yet striking and earthy toned. While some may wonder why such a talented photographer puts her work on Unsplash for free, with over 14,000 likes and 142 collections, Annie has made a name for herself on the platform.
To learn a little more about Annie’s work, we caught up with her to discuss her favorite projects and the obstacles she faced.
How old were you when you started photography?
I took a camera for the first time when I was 38 years old.
Who or what inspired you to do this?
Doing photography was not a choice that I made consciously. I had a blog just when Instagram and Pinterest were becoming mainstream. Having good visual content has become something that has come to the fore for bloggers and people who run websites – so I decided to try and learn how to take a semi-decent photo just for that reason . Something “clicked” almost immediately and I quickly fell in love with photography as a hobby.
Do you have a favorite photo or project you’ve worked on?
I was part of a sailing expedition in Greenland a few years ago and woke up early one morning to find my bunk mate shaking my leg, telling me excitedly that there was a polar bear swimming alongside Of the boat. It was quite surreal waking up from a dream of dancing with Benedict Cumberbatch only to climb onto the deck in your pajamas in sub-zero temperatures to take a picture of a polar bear so close!
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
If you have an idea, no matter how outlandish, pursue it!
What does it mean to you to have been chosen as a Hasselblad heroine?
I am extremely proud to have been chosen to be a Hasselblad hero for many reasons. The program gives visibility to both women photographers and the beauty and diversity of the industry. I am especially delighted to represent amateur photographers, those who like to create for themselves out of a pure love of photography without any outside influence.
It goes without saying that Hasselblad is an iconic and prestigious brand and I’m not going to lie, to think that they noticed what I’m doing is a huge morale booster. As a subscriber to the Hasselblad newsletter, I first heard about the Hasselblad Heroines program in 2019. I remember at the time thinking how cool it was that Hasselblad was showcasing women like this photographers, and never for a moment thought that one day my name might appear in the program!
What was your biggest obstacle to get where you are?
The judgment of a small group of professional photographers was the only obstacle for me, and it was unfortunately an emotional obstacle.
Once I started sharing my photos for free and gaining exposure, some older professional male photographers (including a couple with a huge following) expressed their thoughts very clearly. They very publicly started tweeting that by sharing my images for free I was somehow putting the professionals out of business. I saw their opinions change the way young male photographers started to interact with me and I found that very difficult. Doubt set in, I stopped using social media for a while and put my camera down for a short while.
I suspect this type of behavior stems from people seeing an industry change and fearing change. I remember how ironic it was that for such a creative industry, there was a section of the population that was so reluctant to try different creative approaches.
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