She didn't pick up a camera until 38 – now she's been honored by Hasselblad

Annie Spratt
(Image credit: Annie Spratt)

Annie Spratt is living proof that you don’t need to be a full-fledged professional photographer with a lifetime of experience to be recognized for amazing imagery. This year, she was selected as one of 8 women to be included in the Hasselblad Heroine’s series – and she only picked up the camera at the age of 38.

If you regularly use Unsplash or Instagram, chances are you might’ve stumbled across some of Annie’s work. She shoots beautiful, natural landscapes with warm neutral tones often in and around her base in the New Forest, England. Shooting entirely on film, Annie’s work is subtle yet striking and the tones earthy. While some may wonder why a photographer with such talent puts her work up for free on Unsplash, with over 14K likes and 142 collections, Annie has made a name for herself on the platform. 

To find out a little bit more about Annie’s work, we caught up with her to discuss her favorite projects and the obstacles she’s faced.

(Image credit: Annie Spratt)

How old were you when you first took up photography?

I picked up a camera for the first time at the age of 38.

Who or what inspired you to do so?

Taking up photography wasn’t a move that I consciously made. I had a blog right at the moment when Instagram and Pinterest were becoming mainstream. Having good visual content became something that was thrust to the forefront for bloggers and people running websites – so I decided to try and learn how to take a semi-decent photograph purely for that reason. Something ‘clicked’ almost right away and I soon fell in love with photography as a hobby.

Do you have a favorite photo or project you've worked on?

I was part of a sailing expedition in Greenland a few years ago, and awoke early one morning to find my bunk-mate shaking my leg, excitedly telling me there was a polar bear swimming next to the boat. It was pretty surreal to wake up from a deep slumber dream of dancing with Benedict Cumberbatch only to clamber up on to deck wearing pajamas in sub-zero temperatures to take a photo of a polar bear so close by! 

(Image credit: Annie Spratt)

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

If you have an idea, no matter how out-there it might seem, pursue it!

What does it mean to you on being chosen as a Hasselblad Heroine?

I’m enormously proud to have been chosen to be a Hasselblad Heroine for many reasons. The program gives visibility to both female photographers and the beauty and diversity of the industry. I’m especially thrilled to be representing hobbyist photographers, those who enjoy creating for themselves for the pure love of photography with zero outside influences.

It goes without saying that Hasselblad is an iconic and prestigious brand and I’m not going to lie, to think that they noticed what I am doing is a massive morale booster. As a subscriber of the Hasselblad newsletter, I initially heard about the Hasselblad Heroines program back in 2019. I remember at the time thinking how cool it was that Hasselblad was highlighting female photographers in this way, and never for a single moment thought that one day my name might appear in the program!

(Image credit: Annie Spratt)

What has been your biggest obstacle in getting to where you are?

Judgement from a small group of professional photographers has been the only obstacle for me, and it was an emotional obstacle sadly. 

Once I started sharing my photos for free and gaining more visibility, some professional older male photographers (including a couple with a very large following) were very vocal about their thoughts. They very publicly began tweeting that by sharing my images for free, I was somehow putting professionals out of business. I saw their opinions change how younger male photographers began to interact with me and I found that really hard. Self-doubt set in, I stopped using social media for a while and I put my camera down for a short while.

I suspect this type of behavior stems from when people see an industry evolve and fear change. I recall how ironic it felt that for such a creative industry, there were a section of people who were so averse to trying different creative approaches.

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.