Today we’d like to introduce you to Ann White.
Hi Ann, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I have been taking pictures since I was a young child. I was always extremely interested in the process of photography. I remember my first camera–a simple disposable Kodak, with (I think) 27 available frames to create to my heart’s content. My first subject was my beloved, well fed hamster, Gusgus.
I, of course, had many selfies, as a typical ego-centric 8-year-old would have even today. It’s a good thing social media didn’t exist. I would have been completely hooked on Instagram. I do remember being fascinated with the idea of “stopping time” and having this time stamp–FOREVER. My first real portrait that is very clear in my mind still today, was of my then-best friend Lauren. We were on a school trip to Williamsburg, VA and she was walking in front of me. I hit the shutter just as she was turning to glance at me over her shoulder. I was hooked. Portraits, these incredible gifts that gave a glimpse of a person’s essence… in time. A true moment caught on film.
I always had cameras around. Polaroids, disposables, and I was able to use my high school yearbook club’s camera to my heart’s content. I was obsessed with black and white photography, which we used for our high school yearbook. They had me walk around school capturing moments. Anything I wanted! People just simply live life, being teenagers. I was in love.
Fast forward to college (University of Delaware) and I chose the safe(ish) route (which really was not safe in itself), committing to the Visual Communications program and majoring in Graphic Design. After a year of basic general education classes, I applied to the “VC” program. Once accepted, I had to complete my Sophomore year of courses within this rigorous program, and re-apply. Only 25 students were accepted. Thankfully I made it, and trudged on with my life as a Graphic Design student. I minored in Applied Photography and immersed myself in photography classes on the side, one being my most memorable course to date–Black and White film photography. That class taught me some of the most important foundations within the technical side of photography to date. I will forever be grateful for this class. To this day, I am inspired to one day teach photography because of my super inspiring teacher.
After college, I moved to NYC to find a career in Graphic Design. The best way to get a job, I was told–was to be there. So I got a waitressing job within my first few days in NYC, and before I even started training–found a job in Graphic Design. Every step I took led to me growing as a photographer.. because each move I took geographically and professionally, provided me with tools, inspirations, connections, experience and education in the world of photography, my true passion. While living in NYC for two years, I developed my skills within photo editing through my graphic design jobs (I was obsessed with Photoshop).
In my free time, I would wander the streets of the Lower East Side and do street photography. I was a spy, capturing moments around me before the world was saturated with iPhones. I was using film and slides on my Canon Rebel. This camera would take me to new heights. It was for those interested in professional photography, or serious amateurs. I took a color slide photography class at the renowned School of Visual Arts, and was lifted even higher in my inspiration. The purity and crispness of the photographs was nothing like what I had seen before. Digital cameras were being introduced (and I had one in college), but still were worlds behind film. Slide was one of the best methods of photography. Instead of a negative, the images were captured as a positive. The colors were incredible. I still remember hiking to the film developing store that some of the best photographers used in the East Village, dropping off my film.. and waiting. Opening up that package to see my images was like Christmas morning. This sadly, is a lost experience. And one reason why I still shoot some film to this day.
I moved to Los Angeles, CA in 2006 and found myself working at Skechers USA as a Graphic Designer. As I climbed the ladder within the company, and learned some incredible tricks within Photoshop and on set advertising photoshoots… I kept shooting. And I kept taking classes. I took Intermediate Digital Photography at UCLA extension and really honed in on some necessary practices within the world of shooting and editing my photographs. As well as how to save images, store images, handle clients, lighting etc. One teacher was incredibly great at opening my eyes to the history of photography, and the people that make an impact in this art years ago like Henri Cartier-Bresson, who wrote “The Decisive Moment” and really inspired my street photography. I took classes on lighting and even had a street capture featured in the UCLA extension student’s year-end show. A capture of a skateboarder cruising through Chinatown, with a beautiful motion blur behind him, while he was in focus. A red and yellow wall.
I went to my honeymoon in Hawaii and remember a breakthrough moment when I knew I wanted to seriously pursue photography. I felt inspired and joyful in this creative expression. It was a part of my soul and always has been. I did my first family session, a portrait session of an adorable 9-month-old boy with a Gerber face and big blue eyes. But I felt like I wanted to use my talent for good, for purpose. I found myself on the streets again, capturing worn and aged faces, the homeless, and performers in Venice Beach. As well as skateboarders and the lost souls of the city. I wanted to capture the faces that told a story and could make someone think. I paid people to let me take their photographs if they were hesitant. I continued photographing families and children, who brought me such joy in their essence. I knew that filled my cup in one way, while the street photography filled my cup in another. I almost went to graduate school for photojournalism but decided it wasn’t the right time, or fit.. now if not ever.
Next stop.. Washington D.C. Still working in the design world, but less so– and making more time for my photography business. I built up a client list of families and professionals needing portraits. I did weddings on occasion but it wasn’t for me. So those eventually stopped. I became a Mom and had a constant subject. I obsessed and practiced and immersed myself in taking portrait after capture, after portrait of my son Finn.
After just a few years in D.C., not feeling at home or very inspired.. and being tired of photographing cherry blossoms, we moved to St. Louis, MO. My business has taken off somewhat quickly here in the Midwest, and I have had some amazing opportunities to work with not only children, babies and families–but teens who are making waves in the area. Youth of all backgrounds that simply inspire me to the max. I feel so grateful to work with these Light Workers and capture them in the most beautiful light! Kids that are starting protests in rural, mostly white areas for the BLM. Kids that are turning their phones off and talking to friends in person. Kids who want to work in the White House.
I still do street photography on the side, most recently in New Orleans. I push myself to the edge of comfort and fear, going down scary streets and approaching lost souls. Sometimes I am left feeling like I met the most beautiful soul in the city, and other times I feel like I offered some love to someone who needed it most.
I have found an incredible network of photographers on social media and online, who are guiding, supporting and inspiring me to be a better photographer. I continue to study through these resources and grow daily as a photographer and small business owner. I am no expert, and know that the road is always evolving, as am I.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely not a smooth road! There have been so many beautiful moments however, when I feel so connected to my craft, and I know that it is one of my gifts. Sometimes I am so lost in the art of photography, that I literally don’t remember shooting certain frames. They come through from another place sometimes. I am so in the moment, which I believe is one of the purposes of us being here. When you are so inherently in the moment, you are connected to creative source, and can express yourself freely.. as you were meant to.
The struggles have been the backend. The business. The paperwork, the websites, the nitty-gritty. It is the stuff that bores an artist, but in SOME ways it is gratifying for my OCD side. There are constant struggles with fear. The starving artist complex. Being a people pleaser and not charging enough for this incredible, invaluable art. The fear of not ever “making it”, or burning out. Of people never understanding how passionate you are about taking a portrait of them, in just the right light, at just the right angle at just the right time… while they make that just right expression. But I think in the end moving through this fear is what makes me more fearless, and grateful for where I am, and what I have had the opportunity to do.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
As mentioned in where I have come from, and where I am now– I focus on family and children’s photography. Specifically journalistic photography with a specialization in portraiture. I have always loved capturing a FACE! The eyes are the window to the soul, right? So this to me, is the most beautiful, interesting part of a person. I want to capture their portrait in a way that their soul shines through their face and/or their eyes. Capturing them lost in the moment, in their true essence. Especially children. They are so connected to God, and the creative source of energy. We have so much to learn from them. When that moment is captured, it is truly a gift to me.
I have always had a passion as well for street photography. I do many side projects or explorations within cities on the streets. It teaches me so much about the city, but also the depth of a personality or soul living on the streets (or performing). It is immensely humbling. If I could not work another day of my life and simply travel the world and do street photography, I would be a happy little soul. 🙂
I think specifically, technically what sets me apart from others is my knack for finding good light. I love natural light and shooting in specific ways to allow the golden light to spill onto someone.. or create prisms of light (rainbows and orbs) within the photographs. I also am a very outgoing and curious person.. with a big sense of humor, so making connections is probably just as enjoyable as taking the actual photograph! I could sit with a person all day long and simply get to know them. As we chat, they relax and begin to trust me.. and I can snap away. I love the moments in between the moments. The full, love and light filled moments that are so very fleeting. The moments between the cheesy, expected smile. The twinkle in the eyes moment you’ll see in a child’s eyes, before they do something loving, adventurous or creative.
I am most proud of the work I have done in St. Louis for St. Louis magazine’s Private School Handbook: The teens that are making waves here (as mentioned in the previous question)… who are so incredibly inspiring to me as a human that aren’t even fully grown or matured. I am also super proud of the feature I did for St. Louis magazine’s story about midwives here in St. Louis, and the lack of health insurance that covers natural births, home births, etc. I photographed some incredible Moms and Midwives in the area that are supporting this avenue of birth, which I am a strong advocate for (I did all natural birth center births with my three children).
Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
I think luck might contribute to maybe 25% of my life and business. But is it luck or divine guidance? I think for the most part, if you are trusting in your path, and holding faith–you will be guided along a river that can be pretty smooth. There will be signs and synchronicities along the way that let you know you are on the right path (or river). Yes there will be rough waters, but you are being tested to push through the fear and turbulence, that smooth waters are ahead. I for sure have felt this energy all along the way. I do however have to stay disciplined and have a strong (no quitting) work ethic, to support my visions.
So I don’t always believe there is bad luck either. So often good comes from bad. I had to move twice and it created opportunities to re-invent myself and my business. To take the things I had learned and apply them in the next city. It supported growth.
- My sessions are a fixed price of $400. This gets 1-2 hours of my time! I then have 3 Collections to choose from to support your investment in saving to your family archives (see below).
- Collection One is $500 and gets you 20 high-res digital files to download, as well as a $100 print credit.
- Collection Two is $800 and gets you all of your high-res digital files from your session (usually around 60) to download, as well as a $200 print credit.
- Collection Three is $1,100 and gets you all of your high-res digital files from your session (usually around 60) to download, as well as a $400 print credit + a custom-designed photo book.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: https://www.annwhitephoto.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annwhitephotopro/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annwhitephoto/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/annwhitefoto
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvkwcs3U98Hn6M4OObp8uYQ
Ann White Photography