From her humble beginnings in a cobwebby garage studio, the endlessly creative mother of two has sold an estimated 31 million calendars and coffee table books, with her work translated into at least 23 languages.
Along the way, Anne has also scored an Oprah Winfrey interview, featured as a New York Times crossword clue, photographed the Monegasque royal family, received New Zealand’s Order of Merit for philanthropy, and given shout-outs on TV favourites Friends and Schitt’s Creek!
All these years later, Anne still loves tinies. “They’re just beautiful” she says – whether they’re sitting in flowerpots or disguised as zodiac signs.
Amazingly, even after creating so many adorable portraits, Anne can vividly recall details of them all. What’s more, she remains in touch with many of“her babies” who are now grown-up, some with kids of their own.
“It’s really nice,” Anne says with a smile. “They are often surprised that I remember them, but I do. And it’s really great to hear what they are doing with their lives. It’s all on my Instagram in the ‘Baby Look At You Now’ series.”
Today, the self-taught superstar is revealing behind-the-scenes secrets of her iconic images, in an exclusive interview from the New York home she shares with her husband and manager, Kel.
It’s a sneak preview of the innovative workshops she plans to offer for photography students and fans alike, explaining how she develops and shoots her ideas. Take the famous cabbage twins picture, one of the first in which Anne explored and expressed her unique vision. At the time, it was considered ground-breaking, totally different from the established way of taking baby photos in the early 1990s.
“Apart from making these two cabbages out of 20 others, the hardest thing about this shoot was getting Rhys and Grant to look at each other like that,” says Anne.
“We had a balloon on a piece of string, which my assistant lowered from above, down between their heads. “As soon as they looked at it, she pulled it up quickly. Part of the charm of this image to me is that the twins really have no idea they have cabbage leaves on their heads!”
It’s no surprise, given Anne’s childhood on an isolated Queensland cattle station, that the natural world remains a huge and constant inspiration.
“Most of my ideas come from nature. My book, Beginnings, was totally based on elements of nature that bring forth new life,” Anne explains.
“Even when the world is so tested, as it is today in Ukraine or Gaza, we’re all linked through Mother Nature. That’s the message through my work, really.”
Anne picked up a camera for the first time aged 25, after stints as a maid, waitress, and dishwasher. For 10 years, she made conventional child portraits, then decided to devote one day per month to creating an image just for herself, with nobody else to please.
Her first blockbuster book, Down in the Garden, was written and produced for daughters Stephanie and Kelly – who are now successful photographers themselves – as a whimsical piece of fun when they were little girls. The rest is history.
“It’s up to us to protect the world for the humans coming up after us,” Anne says passionately.
“I always try to emphasise how life should be cherished.
“Despite everything, the politics and wars and pandemics, little babies continue to be born and their parents love them and want what’s best for them. That’s where I get the energy to continue my work, right there at the start, when humans have such promise.”