Famed Infant Photographer Anne Geddes Has Surprising Advice for Parents

Just about everyone fancies themselves a photographer these days with smartphones at the ready to capture all of life's moments. Parents in particular seem to photograph their children's' every moves. Photography is truly an art, however, and St. Louis is home to the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, which honors the form's most notable practitioners each year. In a special ceremony on November 17, the IPHF will induct its 2017 honorees, including Anne Geddes, one of the world's most renowned portrait photographers of infants and children.

Many parents have grinned with delight at Geddes' iconic images of infants in imaginative and whimsical scenes, such as in her iconic 1996 coffee table book, "Down in the Garden" featuring babies envisioned as flowers, vegetables and butterflies. For 27 years, her images have graced best-selling calendars. This year, she released her seventh coffee-table book, "Small World," a retrospective of her 30-year career.

Geddes, a native of Australia, took some time from her busy schedule to chat about how she got started and her love of photographing infants and children ahead of her St. Louis appearance at the IPHF induction ceremony. She cites LIFE magazine as an early inspiration for her career.

"I started in photography with the fascination for photographing people. I used to buy LIFE magazine when I was in my teens when it was in its heyday. I was fascinated with the concept of telling a story with a single image," she says. "I picked up a camera when I was 25 and started doing these portraits – mainly family and children. I wanted to depict children in a more natural way than was happening at the time."

After a decade of photographing kids and families, Geddes says she really began to learn how to relate to children of different ages, and the nuances between a newborn, a six-month-old and a two-year-old. She had a desire to create classic portraiture that would stand the test of time. 

"I just really enjoy children and everything they represent, so I gradually started focusing more on little ones and infants in particular," she says. "There is a very strong message behind my work that some people see and others don't. A newborn baby represents everything that we are about as a human race, particularly in these troubling times. They represent hope and purity and our eternal chance at new beginnings. They are right there at the moment when everything is new to them."

Many of the fun and creative images that eventually were featured in "Down in the Garden" began as an aside from Geddes' daily portrait work for families. "It's not easy photographing children. The more successful I became, the more I was able to charge, and then the more people's expectations increased and so on," she says. "Once a month, I thought I have to do something for myself where I'm not answering to anybody but myself. The first image I did was a black and white image of a boy named Joshua bundled up in fabric and hanging off a hook. I did that image and it was a huge sense of relief because I saw the print and I took it home and was looking at it and thinking I'm really pleased with it and my opinion is the only one that matters. It just freed me a little bit to try random things."

The second image Geddes did for herself was her widely known photo of infant twins in cabbages. Along with the very classic black and white portraits she was doing, she slowly began amassing images for "Down in the Garden." When the book was released and skyrocketed up the bestseller list, no one was more surprised than Geddes. With the children featured in that classic book now in their 20s, Geddes has started a fun series on her Instagram account called "Baby, Look at You Now!" in which she shares recent photos of the adults those babies from her early images have become.

Despite its obvious challenges, Geddes loves the rewards that come with capturing the purity and innocence of childhood.

Anne Geddes

"For all of the years I've been photographing, the best images are always the ones where a little bit of magic happens," she says.  "It's like the baby lying in the roses with the big smile that everyone knows. One of the nicest things about photographing babies is that it's so truthful. If you've got a sleeping baby, they're not pretending to be asleep. It is what it is."

Her tip for parents trying to capture a bit of that magic?  "Just get down to the baby's level and keep the background simple," she says. "One of my best pieces of advice is to just put the phone down and enjoy your baby."                      

Photos courtesy of Anne Geddes


Share This Story
Our Daily Things to Do email is the easiest way to plan your day.
Follow Us
Want daily ideas of things to do? How about special offers & giveaways? Sign up and we’ll handle the rest.
Things to Do

You Might Also Like...

From Our Sponsors
Popular Stories

Safety Town Opens at The Magic House

Kids can once again go to town learning about safety because Kirkwood Safety Town has returned to the Magic House. Safety Town features a child-sized neighborhood including a fire station, police station, electric company, farmers market, park, house, and even a train station!

Continue reading »
Vetta Sports Expands Kickaroos Program to Help Kids Build Both Soccer and Life Skills

Some of life’s most important lessons are learned on the sports field – even if a child is still too young to understand the rules of the game. Vetta Sports is kicking up its Kickaroos program by incorporating a nationally-recognized child development component into their curriculum, and your little one can join the fun by trying a free class.

Continue reading »
There's a Scientific Reason You Mix Up Your Kids' Names

If you’re like me, the dog makes an appearance in the list as well.

Continue reading »
Being a Mom is Like Having 2.5 Full Time Jobs, Research Finds

No wonder we’re always tired.


Mom life is hard work. It’s like having a full-time job, right? Well, not exactly. The reality is mothers actually put in way more time than the average job, according to recent research.

Continue reading »
Want to Maximize Your Child's Learning Potential? Talk, Talk, Talk

Parents know they should read to their children. It’s the right thing to do to help them gain reading readiness skills. But did you know that talking to children is equally important in getting them ready for learning? 

Continue reading »
Follow Us