Anne Geddes has been called the most celebrated baby photographer in the world. Her style is instantly recognizable, and Geddes's images enjoy great popularity and unparalleled brand name status. Photographs by Geddes appear on posters, postcards, stationary, personal checks, bookmarks, jigsaw puzzles, and stickers. Geddes's greatest fame, however, has come from calendars and coffee-table books of her work. In 1997 Geddes's A Collection of Images was the number-one selling calendar in the United States. There are estimated to be more than 7.5 million Anne Geddes calendars and date books in print. Her book of photographs Down in the Garden (1996) sold more than 1.5 million copies, and reached number three on the New York Times best-seller list. As of 2002 over 15 million Anne Geddes titles had been sold worldwide.
Geddes's photographs are highly crafted and carefully staged. Most are taken indoors, in a studio setting, employing elaborate costumes and props. The images rely on jokes and puns, which are created by putting children in strange or anomalous situations. Geddes's most famous images blur the boundaries between the child modeling for the shot and the natural world around it. For instance, in Sweet Peas (1995), several newborn babies lie sleeping, each dressed in an individual cloth pea pod. Her work creates the illusion that children are adorable, passive objects, protected from real-world concerns, who exist solely for the delectation of adult viewers. Geddes often works with newborns less than four weeks old, or with premature babies, to ensure that the child will lay still for the duration of the shot. The sheer difficulty of photographing such young children is part of what makes Geddes's photographs so attention-grabbing.
Geddes's popularity is also due in large part to the fact that, in her calendars and books, she presents children as simultaneously innocent and sensual. One of her most famous photographs shows two children emerging from giant cabbages, a coy reference to the myth that babies come from the cabbage patch. Geddes's own favorite photograph, entitled Cheesecake, is of a nude baby, its genitals covered, lying on a bed of roses, grinning. The image makes a joke of the idea of children as sexual, while at the same time indulging the representation of baby flesh. Recently, Geddes's work has begun to change. She is focusing less on props and has begun to include more black and white photographs in her calendars and books.
Geddes was born and raised in Queensland, Australia, and is a self-trained photographer. She now lives and works in Auckland, Australia.
See also: ; Photographs of Children.
Isaacs, Nora. 1996. "Monitor: Genesis; Geddes Gardening Tips." American Photo 7: 32.
Swazeny, Sue. 1996. "Interview with Anne Geddes." Family Photo: 28–31, 72.
The Official Anne Geddes Website. 2002. Available from www.annegeddes.com.
A. CASSANDRA ALBINSON