Hello! Can you please start by introducing yourself and the work that you do?
My name is Anne Greene. I was thinking about how I would describe the work that I do because there are a lot of different pockets of creative work that I am involved in.
The work that I do on a daily basis for my day job is digital experience design/audiovisual design for a company that mainly works for corporate offices. I got into that from having a background in architecture. I went to Pratt Institute, studied that, but didn’t fall in love with straight-up architecture so this seemed like a good transition into something a little more tangible, small scale, and user-experience based. I am happy to have that experience with something more technology-focused than what I am used to. It is not as creative as I would like, it is a bit more logic-based, but I think that it adds a nice flavor to my skill set.
The work that people probably know me for based on my online presence is my photography. I didn’t know how to use a camera until 2018 but I picked it up, had a goal to shoot music artists and use film. That was a rapid, all-in process that I would do whenever I had free time outside of my day job. I fell in love with it.
I was trying to connect with the music artists, give them something that would enhance their career. I loved it. I thought it was like a gift. The ability to do that and connect with people is what really kept me going. That grew into a full side business. When it became too business-oriented I took a step back because it took away from the real passion that I found in it. I was so close to getting a deal with a record label but nothing really happened with that, I got my foot in the door but then my foot was just kind of staying there. So I decided to focus on something else. That was around mid-2019. From that point on, I got to know some people in the fashion industry who were creating smaller-scale companies and I would do shoots for them. It’s been nice to take those jobs here and there and still keep that passion for photos going. Otherwise, I feel as though I have transitioned into other types of work that are fulfilling me more right now.
I’ve picked up painting again, something that I’ve done since I was a child so it’s come and gone in my life. Right now I am sitting in this kind of academic painting realm where I am trying to gain skills, similar to when I picked up the film camera and decided to master that first and then get creative with it. Right now painting is a nice step away from the grueling day job that I have and is something that can brainwash me into focusing on something totally different. So yeah, I really enjoy doing that now. I don’t know if it is something that I would want to form into a business because of the change in my mentality with what happened with photography.
Recently, in the process of trying to find a new opportunity, I have become super obsessed with making digital renderings. That is a skill that you learn in architecture school as a form of representation. I think that for right now it is particularly relevant for artists to use as a tool to show their works online. It is a nice niche in the art market that has recently become a huge need. I’ve been working with some artist friends to create digital renderings for them to show their works in a gallery space that doesn’t exist. I think it is cool that we are using all these different tools now that the world is changing and we can’t see everything in person. I feel like the possibilities are endless, you can make whatever you want in a digital space. I’ve found a super-obsession with it.
How was that process of never picking up a film camera to almost getting a deal with a record company? What did that progression look like for you?
I think that I had a huge kick in my life when I broke up with an ex-boyfriend. I wanted to take photography into my own hands since I had been on the other side of a camera for several years before that. I think that I was a little bit hurt in that relationship so once I got out of it I wanted to see what it’s like on the other side of the camera- to know how it feels and to get into the mindset of why I was hurt. It was like a control move to decide to do that. To take back control and to investigate why that had been a problem for me. It was a tool for me to overcome that.
Can you talk more about how your online presence is made of almost only your photography even though you work in so many different ways?
The photo work is such an easy way to connect with people. Since it was started with music artists, I wanted to post it so it could be shared and they could get themselves out there. The photo work was basically taken for social media. My Instagram presence used to be more architecture-focused. In my archived posts, it is all architecture stuff. I wanted to limit the amount of things though and have it be more focused. At this point, Instagram isn’t a huge tool for me posting-wise, though I love to look at stuff. I did create another account that I am going to use for paintings and renderings.
You are working in all of these different modes of making such as photography, design, and painting, do you approach each medium differently or do you think that as long as it is creative you know how to go into it?
That’s a good question. I think that it is probably similar because when I start out with a new medium, I like to take the steps to make sure that I know how to do everything properly. It is kind of like how some people, when they cook, just throw everything into a pan, versus the people who follow fifty recipes before they make plans to cook something. I am a perfectionist in the way that I like to master it first and make it look perfect. Then when I have the skills to do that I can figure out the things that I want to include or not include in your final works. It is like the term “good but bad art” or “bad but good art.” Artists use that ignorant style but only got there because they made super-realistic paintings before. They’ve mastered something. I think that adds validity to the work.
Do you have a favorite medium or mode of working or do you go through phases?
I think I go through phases. Photo work is super interesting because you don’t have the ability to sit there and perfect it and mull it over. Especially when shooting with film, you have a certain amount of photos to take in that certain amount of time, so once you do that you’re done.
If you get stuck in a certain work pattern, changing up the medium to something like photography gives you the relief of not being able to be tortured by thinking something isn’t done or wishing you could redo it.
Do you develop your own photos?
I haven’t learned how to develop my own yet. I have heard about how to do it and I know people love doing it. I think that it might be good, that you become more invested in the work when you develop it yourself. I haven’t gotten there yet though, I still have mountains of negatives to put into sleeves, so one step at a time.
What does your photographic process look like then, do you edit the film images digitally at all? Do you scan the negatives yourself?
I like to have full control except for the developing process. I scan myself unless it is a huge client job. I like seeing it from the analog form to when it becomes digital and controlling that process. At first, I believed that you shouldn’t touch up anything when it becomes digital, that it just comes in and you can’t touch
it. When I got more familiar with the process of making things digital I realized it always looks different depending on what technology you use. I take them into Photoshop now and have created a certain style by taking the negatives and making it look like my work.
How would you describe your photographic style?
When I first started I was really inspired by 90s hip hop photography. I know that has become a popular style to mimic or interpret these days. I really like the compositions of that era on the street and I think they are super high-tonal contrast, which I still love and don’t think I’ll ever not like. I like the energy and composition and it was a really fun era to learn about.
How has your architecture degree and background influenced your work? I know you mentioned working in digital renderings now, has it shown up in other ways?
I think whenever you go through such a rigorous program you become immersed in a certain way of conceptualizing your work and representing it. The representation part of architecture is so crucial to getting your concept across to somebody. It has to look beautiful and you have to be able to comprehend it when it is on a wall. I think I have stuck with those skills. I think making something easily legible and composed well are great guidelines to make work by.
Do you think that beauty plays a role in your work?
Absolutely. It is funny because my boyfriend is a photographer too and his work is on the opposite spectrum from mine. I need the person I am photographing to understand, like an agreement that we are doing those photos together, and I like to sit with it and compose it, it takes time and a relationship with someone. His work is point-and-shoot on the street and is fast and doesn’t have to look beautiful, doesn’t have to look well-composed. It is more about what is happening in that moment. He has the ability to see and do really fast. I think that is such an interesting contrast in the way we think about photography.
I like that idea of collaboration that you mentioned between the person you are photographing and yourself, can you talk more about that?
Yeah, that is something that I was going to touch on in that comparison. There are so many people who are very sensitive about getting their photo taken and I wouldn’t want to cause a conflict or offend someone by taking a photo of them. I think that says a lot about how I go about the world, sensitive and not causing any conflict. I like having it as a special moment between two people.
Do you work with models primarily, or I know you were mentioning working with musicians as well?
Initially I didn’t want to shoot just models because I wanted to foster that relationship and collaboration between two mediums together. With the music artists, it wasn’t about focusing on how good they looked or what they were wearing, it was more like showing their energy. I wanted to create more depth in the photo than just creating something beautiful. Now, with the fashion campaigns, I do work with models and it has become super different. When you are working with a really talented model they make it way easier for you to photograph them. They work with you to move around and get the right composition and angles. That has been really fun. It is more fast and energetic.
Do you think about combining these different mediums that you work within or do you like keeping them separate?
I think that if I were to combine them I would want to respect each one individually. If I were to make a large-scale project I would find ways that I could use different skill sets to make that project come to life. I think it is good to have a wide range of skill sets so that if you do want to take on a large-scale thing, you have the tools to make it happen.
Can you talk more about your process of mastering something? Do you think that once you have mastered something you are ready to move on from it? Is it all about learning? Is there another thought process behind that?
I haven’t thought about that until right now but it seems that once I had mastered the certain style of photography that I was wanting to achieve, that is when I decided to focus on something else. I think that is how I have always been, going through phases where I am obsessed with something and then I do it well and move on the next. At least for me, it is necessary to have new goals to reach all the time. If I am shifting gears then that is just a way to clean the slate and find something else. I don’t think they are abandoned once they are surpassed though. You move them to the side and they are there if you need them later.
What are some themes that you pursue in your work? What do you want people to get from your work?
One connection I am trying to make is finding ways to make the work relevant to the changing technology that we are experiencing. When I was still photographing musicians, I made a booklet that included scannable Spotify codes on the facing pages of the artists’ photo. You would see the photo and then you would see the Spotify code. It was a way to see the artist and visualize what they are all about and then immediately have access to their music. Even though it was in a hard copy booklet, there was a mix of tangibility and technology there. That was a connection that I saw that I was missing before. I think that is also what I like to do with these renderings for artists. It is a new service you can provide for someone that came out of all the new things happening in the world.
The reason I made that book with the Spotify codes wasn’t to showcase my photography but was to show those music artists. They’re small artists, just people trying to make it. It is nice to use your work for something that is helping people.
I feel like that idea of tangibility and technology has come up a bit in your work. With that project, working in film that is then moved into digital spaces, and even the online renderings that are representing physical spaces. Can you talk more about that process of working between the physical and the digital?
I think it is nice to come to something analog after working in a digital space for a while because it can get scaleless and not feel like it is real. That is something that I struggled with in this long work week I had. I was moving different symbols around in a program and reminding myself that it was going to become a real building, these are electrical outlets, they actually mean something. Coming back to something physical is a way of keeping myself in check and realizing what physical properties are. You can switch between the two and take the things that you learned in analog moments and bring them into the digital world.
What does your creative process look like? Where do you get inspiration from?
The process is always changing. All it takes is something to peak an interest that could form an obsession. I’ve been going to a lot of galleries recently so that has helped maintain my interest in painting even though I don’t always have time to do it. Most recently with the renderings, I was applying to a job that kickstarted a new creative project for me. That creative process is always different for me.
Have you ever been surprised by something in your work?
I’ve definitely been surprised a lot, I think that is key to the process of film photography. There are moments where you see the photo and had no idea it was going to come out like that, good or bad. The small elements of surprise are always there but overall I am surprised that I can tell that my work looks a certain way. I didn’t think that I would be able to create a style of photography but when I look at it in comparison to other photos, there are certain elements that I consider recognizable of myself.
Do you think that style is also present in your design and digital work?
I definitely think so. I have noticed that when I am making a rendering I use the same principles of overall tonal contrast and of the image being dynamic and balanced. Those are definitely skills I have learned from taking photos.
What are you working on now?
I have been really obsessed with furniture design ever since a job opportunity came up. I want to start a new project where I can take my rendering skills and use the things I know from architecture school to dip my hand into it. I’ve never done furniture design but it is along the lines of everything I like in one. That is a really cool opportunity that I want to do.
Can you talk more about how it is “everything you like in one?”
In architecture school, I started to dislike the intangibility of everything. It was a bit too large-scale for me. I was super drawn to the industrial design department and I really respected the work that they did. I think that furniture design is smaller-scale and more focused on a particular moment in the user experience. It is more specific and simple. It is nice to have something that has one job so I think it will be refreshing to try it.
Interview by Riley Gunderson