London Art Spot: Annie Bootiman

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.

"This was taken at the G20 demo in April 2009. Jesus was carrying a placard with 'Money Lenders Out' written on it, but it's chopped off in this photo and i like the ambiguity of the shot - he could be carrying a cross."

LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
 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.

"This was taken the day after the G20 demo in April 2009, at Bank. I expect a lot of people have photos like this one. I like the three policemen huddled by the column. I also like the graffiti 'My banker went on holiday and all I got was this stupid economy'."

Banker Holiday
LLO: How long have you lived in London?
Since 2001, so 9 years. It’s gotten a bit fuller, but has lost none of its charm.
LLO: Where do you see photography in your future – hobby or career?
 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.

"I like the soft, gentle movement of the smoke in this. It's quite a relaxing shot."

LLO: Do you remember the first moment that made you approach a camera with creativity in mind?
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.

"Vibrant greens always work great in photos."

Summer Leaves
LLO: What type of camera do you use and do you have a favourite lens?
 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.

LLO: Where in London is your favourite place to take your camera and why?
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.

"A pink tulip! Flowers are so beautiful."

Tulip Pink

LLO: Is there a place in London you would love to take photos but haven’t yet?
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.

"I sort of prefer this one to the shot of the pink tulips, as I like the angle. However, an esteemed person who knows a lot about photography, reckons the pink tulip is a better shot, photographically speaking!! I suppose it has detail, whereas the red tulip photo is more about the whole composition. I kind of like both."

Tulip Red
LLO: Your Flickr collection “flowers, flames and sand” contains a lot of macro nature shots and vibrant colours. I’m also seeing a lot of music, travel and events photographed. How would you characterise your style?
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.

"My favourite shot!"

Windy Wellington
LLO: Which image are you most proud of and why?
‘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.

"Vibrant colours in a simple composition, and again the gentleness of the smoke. Taken in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, pre-digital! (2005)"

LLO: Favourite London-based artists?
AB: I’m not going to sound very original with this, but graffiti artists like Banksy, who can combine something edgy with a message, and make it beautiful. Who touch on issues we should be much less complacent about, but can bring a smile out at the same time. We should embrace our differences and be much less belligerent and not try and solve so much that is wrong in the world with violence.Grab your camera instead, and go find all the beautiful things that are out there.

"Taken on a beach in Cornwall, sitting on a sand dune while watching the sun set."

Thanks Annie!

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