Queen's Birthday Honours: Anne Geddes

By ALAN PERROTT

Ignoring some high-level advice to give up baby photos has led to an international career among the rich and famous for Queens Birthday honour recipient Anne Geddes.

"I was warned off babies a long time ago when I was looking to release a greeting card range," she said from Sydney.

"I showed my pictures to an English publisher; he was obviously someone who had never connected with babies. Anyway, he flicked through them quite quickly then looked up at me and said, 'That's all well and good, but I really think you need a broader portfolio'.

"I just looked at him, thinking, 'Can't you see how beautiful they are?'."

Geddes has since carved out a unique niche among international photographers over a 20-year career.

The new Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit is known as the woman who put babies into flower pots and created a distinctive greeting card range.

"After all these years, to receive an honour like this is just such a surprise. It was totally out of the blue, I mean it isn't something you ever really think about. And as an Australian who's lived in New Zealand for 18 years, it's just amazing to receive something like this."

Her work has been published in more than 50 countries and translated into 16 languages.

She is now about a year into a collaborative project with Grammy-winning Canadian diva Celine Dion that will combine music and images under the title "Miracle".

Geddes first approached the singer after hearing she was a fan of her work. Geddes was hoping Dion would send a card or something to a young girl struggling with cancer at the Starship Children's Hospital.

"Instead she called her a couple of weeks later, which was a wonderful gesture. Then when she had her baby I thought I would return the favour and take some photographs for her and the concept grew from there."

Geddes is adamant she would still be photographing babies whether or not her books sold.

"It's important for me to try to make a difference in child abuse and neglect."

Herald Feature: Honoured New Zealanders

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