Anne Geddes has been snapping photographs of some of the world's tiniest subjects (yes, babies!) for over three decades. Her iconic shots have been showcased in countless coffee table books in over 84 countries. Geddes has sold a grand total of 19 million copies of her books and nearly 13 million of her annual calendars featuring photos of littles ones.
Now Geddes is heading to Miami for an exhibition that will raise money for the Nicklaus Children's Hospital this September. She chatted with us about her work with the Nicklaus Children's Hospital, upcoming exhibit, and the impact of photography on social media.
Tell us why you decided to team up with the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. ANNE GEDDES: I’ve always had a connection with a children’s hospital in whichever country we were living in at the time. During our time in Auckland, New Zealand, I had strong connections with the Starship Hospital; in Australia with The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (Sydney); and here in the U.S. firstly with the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, and now Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. I think of myself as a global advocate for children, and I’ve shot in Neonatal Intensive Care Units in various countries as well. My initial connection with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital came about when I became associated with a team at the hospital who were designing a range of protective children’s clothing called KidzStuff, which is now available at Walmart. KidzStuff offers practical and safe clothing solutions for your child, so my association was a natural fit. Last year I was honored to be the 2017 International Pediatric Hall of Fame Inductee, and named an Ambassador for the Hospital. It’s very rewarding for me to have these associations, and to help raise awareness of children’s issues. The new NICU Unit at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is so impressive and I’m in awe of medical teams working in NICU units everywhere.
Is there a photograph in the new exhibition that has the most meaning for you? AG: Probably the image of tiny premature baby Maneesha being cradled in the huge hands of a gentleman called Jack. It was shot in a NICU Unit in New Zealand in 1993. Maneesha had been born seven weeks early and she weighed just 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) at the time of the shoot. When I created this image I simply had no idea that it would mean so much to so many people around the world. As an aside, I am also an Ambassador for March of Dimes here in the U.S., who are doing important, life saving research into the causes of premature birth. One in nine pregnancies here in the U.S. results in a preemie baby. So many people have told me their stories of having a tiny baby fighting to survive, and that image of Jack holding Maneesha gave them a sense of hope during very difficult times. Maneesha is now a healthy 25-year-old and a photographer in her own right. She has even interned for me a few times at my studio.
What do you make of Instagram and the impact it has had on photography? AG: All the millions of photographs that get taken every day are more a thought than something permanent. Instagram has encouraged all that, but what people will see, for instance, in this exhibition of my images down in Florida next month, is that classic imagery with a sense of timelessness to it, importance to it and put on the wall and look at forever. I think people are coming back to that—actually having a print on the wall. It’s really gratifying for me to see the end result in print form. I tell photographers to really think about the importance of their work and the sense of history that will carry through with their work.
What should people expect to see at your exhibition next month? AG: There are 25 classic images in black and white, printed in a dark room under my supervision, and people can come along and look at them and know that these are available for the first time and will benefit the Nicklaus Children's Hospital. And it’s a great way to support the fetal care program.
Are you already working on your next book? AG: I actually have a book that just came out with Taschen. There will be a few copies at the exhibition. It’s called Small World, but it’s a big book and is a retrospective of my work. It goes all the way back to my years doing portraiture, my cards, and calendars. I’m very proud of it.
For more information about the Nicklaus Children's Hospital and its upcoming September 14 Anne Geddes exhibition, visit give.nicklauschildrens.org.