I recently had a chance to send one of my main photography inspirations, Annie Bailey, a few questions.
Her work has always been something I’ve treasured seeing. Her images consistently stand out because of her style and use of light, combined with her obvious love of her subject matter. She’s one of the best, and I’m honored to feature her here.
You can find her on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/anniebaileyphotography/
How did you get started in photography?
I grew up in rural Montana, and I first got a Polaroid camera and became very obsessed with capturing anything and everything on film. I would take it outside and take pictures of the cows, the cats, the dog, the flowers. I practiced and practiced until I came to understand what it was I wanted out of doing it. For some reason, I was drawn to the way you create a different world in a photograph, even though the world you used to create it exists in real life, but the angle, light, and editing can allow you to take the real world and make a whole new one. One that reflects how you felt when you took that photo, or how you want the viewer to feel when they look at it.
How would you describe your current photography style?
I call it rural minimalism. The more simple I can capture something, the more I like it. I often only want one subject. For example one barn, or one farmhouse, or one grain elevator. Everything around it I view as negative space almost. I am a deeply introverted person. I need my space and my boundaries and it’s almost a necessity for me to maintain my mental balance. Maybe it’s from growing up so rural, which I thoroughly loved as a kid. It was endless the amount of things to do. I feel so at home in those uncomfortably large spaces where no one lives. It revives me to be around nothing.
When did you realize that you were a “photographer” in that you were comfortable calling yourself that?
I’d say I started to comfortably call myself a photographer when I realized people were encouraging me to continue doing it. At first friends encouraged me to open an Etsy shop, then that audience encouraged me to get into galleries, then galleries encouraged me to sell to large licensing companies, and those companies encouraged me to create new work every year so I could give them new pieces to sell the following year. I never hit an audience that said, you know these aren’t that great. You should stop. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have anyway because I just enjoyed it for my own solace and creative outlet.
Annie, I see that you’ve been had work included in television shows and had your work in places like Target and more. How does something like that happen? Do you pursue those relationships, or do they come to you?
I always tell new photographers to get as much work as you can up on the internet. Wherever your comfortable posting it, post it there. Instagram has been a good place for me, but because I don’t enjoy posting myself I tend to post on either Etsy or Society6. I strongly urge photographers to put up whatever portfolio they have. I was only approached by television, Target, Crate & Barrel and such because I have a large portfolio of work to pick from. And it’s in multiple places. I’ve gotten offers for contracts through both Etsy and Society6, so while it’s very time intensive, listing all of your work will get you places.
What equipment do you work with, and why?
I work mostly with my Nikon D800. I went with Nikon because I had a subscription to National Geographic as a kid (thanks mom and dad) and the photographers who worked with Nat Geo all used Nikons. I thought, well that’s it then. I need a Nikon. I also just have a huge amount of respect for that company and how they paved the way for optics that other companies now use slight variations of. Their lenses are super crisp and every time I am blown away by their capabilities.
What are some future goals you have with photography?
My biggest goal right now would be to expand my travel boundaries and search new backroads in places I haven’t been. I had planned a trip to drive to Tennessee to meet up with a fellow old house photographer from Florida, Tanya. However the Russians hijacked the pipelines that spring, and I got kind of stranded in South Dakota, near the Missouri border. I will admit that this turned out to be one of the greatest solo trips I’d ever been on. There were so many houses I found and I wouldn’t have found those old farmhouses if that hadn’t happened. I definitely thought that was what I would do if I could make it work financially.
What advice would you give others who are trying to pursue their photographic dreams?
I would just really drive home that you have to put the time in putting your work up on your website, your Etsy shop, or Society6, somewhere, as long as you’re putting it out in front of someone. Make it easy for someone to buy our work. Do research. See what others are doing and note what you like about what you see and what you don’t like. From there, develop your own on-line style. My mock-ups for example are how I communicate to a buyer what my work might look like framed. I enjoy that approach, but others don’t. Do what feels right for you. Figure out what you like to take photos of, then work through your style with that subject. What you take pictures of is not the same thing as how you take pictures. Subject and style are two different things, that’s why I never worry about photographing the same subject with another photographer. We will almost always do it differently. Certain angles are obvious, but even then different eyes see it different ways. Work with people and get their take. It teaches you to see more broadly and outside of yourself. It has helped me a lot.
Anything else you’d like to add? Promote? Send people to?
I have some people I’d love to direct others to! If you enjoy my work, these fellow photographers have been an influence and an inspiration to me:
1. Tanya whose Instagram is: @Southern-girl-dreaming
2. Sally whose Instagram is: @skeletrix_
3. Steph whose Instagram is: @barnwoodandbottles
4. Sarah whose Instagram is: @thepicturepedaler
5. Mary whose Instagram is: @marypetersphoto