Annie Bootiman, 36
This is Annie. She lives, works and plays in the city – a creative Londoner who has a talent for finding and capturing beauty in the little things. She has studied languages, has a passion for all things Italian, and has lived here and there. Well-travelled, she has breathed the air on four continents (but has never been to the moon – maybe one day?). Annie collects bits of art and things that are pretty.
For this week’s London Art Spot, Annie tells us about finding inspiration in the energy of London, the lyrics of a certain Coldplay song and describes her opportunistic her approach to photography.
AB: It’s other people in London who bring out creativity in me – the artists, musicians, actors and so on who do things a bit differently and aren’t afraid to try new things. I love the urban and graffiti artists; I love small theatre groups like The Factory who are really refreshing. And I love live music and discovering amazing bands just on the off-chance. There’s an energy in all of that, and there’s a part of me that wants to capture that somehow. That’s also one of the challenges of photography, capturing a moment, a vibe, and holding onto it, or making it last forever in some way. London feels like a place that doesn’t judge you if you’re original or a bit different and I think people tune into that.
AB: Since 2001, so 9 years. It’s gotten a bit fuller, but has lost none of its charm.
AB: Probably just a hobby, which is enough. I relax when I’m taking pictures, because there’s no pressure to do anything other than just be in the moment. I’m not sure I’d want to lose that.
AB: Looking back, I often approached photography that way, but wasn’t aware of it until I first looked through the lens of an SLR and realised it could reach those magical places a little happy-snappy camera simply can’t. I was probably 16. Bizarrely though, I only got my first manual SLR in 2003, and it’s like I’d found something that had been missing all my life. I only went digital a year ago, slow starter! Or just a bit of a purist.
AB: My manual film SLR is a Canon EOS 300 and I love it. We have a special relationship! The digital camera is a Nikon D70 and is slightly too big to hold comfortably. Anyway, it’s about the lens… my zoom lens is great for unobtrusive close-ups! Next on my shopping list is a good wide-angle lens, because it adds another dimension to what you’re photographing and is quite versatile in that respect. On my Canon I mostly use a standard 28-80mm lens, but like it nevertheless. Nothing should restrict you, and there’s always a way of making the most of what you have.
AB: The parks for flowers, lush colours and light. Open spaces that have a feeling of expansiveness and a big sky. At the other extreme, anywhere that feels real, undiluted, authentic – derelict and deserted places. A photo can capture beauty in almost anything.
AB: Yes, cemeteries. I wanted to do a kind of visual portrait of Coldplay’s ‘Cemeteries of London’ … find ghost towns in the ocean, and go walking at night until the breaking of the day, taking photos along the way. I’d happily find ghost towns on dry land, I’m not really into underwater photography at the moment! Although maybe that should be my answer: the Thames.
AB: Opportunistic! You grab your camera and head out. Sometimes with something in mind, more often not. It’s slightly different if you’re travelling and in a new place. In that case it’s one of the first things I do – head out on a kind of recon mission. It’s important to do this before anything else, as you get used to how new things look very quickly. If you wait a day, you will already miss small details. We’re surprisingly adaptive to new surroundings.
AB: ‘Windy Wellington’ (New Zealand). It took ages as it was so windy and I kept getting swept away! In the end I crouched down, sort of shielded. From that angle, it suddenly came together. From standing it wasn’t obvious. But then that’s the point: taking the time to find those things, like the lines that follow from the swaying wheat to the skyline in the distance. Things you probably wouldn’t pick up on if you were just walking by. A camera can be like a third eye, sort of spiritual and all-seeing, often finding something extraordinary or exquisite in what seems ordinary on the surface.
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