We had the good fortune of connecting with Anne Watson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anne, is there something you believe many others might not?
The idea that you need a ‘business plan’ or a ‘5 year plan’ in order to start working on your dream. I’ve never had a plan that was written out – I simply followed my passions, knew what I wanted to pursue, rolled up my sleeves, and decided to see where the journey would take me. I find plans that are written in stone to be very limiting. There’s no way you will ever plan things out exactly as they will unfold anyways. And more often than not, things will work out far better than any plan your mind invents. So my motto is, “Be Open” — be open to life, to change, and to unexpected opportunities.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I suppose what sets me apart from others in the world of food photography is that I don’t just take the photos — I am a one-stop-shop for brands & products because I also develop & test recipes, cook and style the food as well. I’m most excited about the way my business has evolved over the last decade. I started out 10 years ago working nonstop for years, doing any jobs that I could get my hands on in the restaurant world in order to build my portfolio. I never gave up, worked very hard to build a good reputation with my clients, and allowed my business to grow based on word-of-mouth referrals. Over time, my projects started to evolve from in-restaurant shoots to a lot of project work (cookbooks, website work, product campaigns, etc). Particularly over the last two years when I’ve found a true joy in being able to work from my home studio more. I enjoy the pace of working from home – I’m a single mom, and it allows me to be here for my 7-year-old son, Russell, and also gives me freedom to be more hands-on with the cooking & styling process, which I love. I live on a ranch in North San Diego County where we grow several acres of Cabernet Sauvignon wine grapes, raise chickens & pigs, and are fortunate to be surrounded by incredible farms where I source a lot of our food locally. So being able to work in an environment like this is very inspiring.
It wasn’t an easy road to get here – I’ve worked extremely hard to get where I am professionally and I don’t take any of it for granted. The years I spent running around to restaurants, hauling my equipment from city-to-city, late nights spent in the hot kitchens with chefs during service… it was hard. But, it was also exhilarating and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat knowing how it would evolve into where I am today.
On a personal note, the biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way is to remain open to what life presents & to be grateful for every opportunity that comes your way, versus trying to control things and make them the way you think you want them to be. This became very true for me over the last two years as I held my husband’s hand through his very private & intense battle with stage 4 stomach cancer. He was diagnosed in August 2019 and it flipped everything on its head for my family. It was one of the main factors (combined eventually with COVID as well) that made me decide to shift my focus from restaurant work to working from home more with recipes & brands that I can stand behind from a health-and-wellness standpoint. When my husband passed away earlier this year, I felt more determined than ever to allow my company to evolve into a food photography business that will help people with their overall health as well. And I’m already seeing that happen with work I’ve been lucky to find, such as an upcoming cookbook project that I’m working on this Summer with an talented Ayurvedic Chef named Shelley Rahim who focuses on nutrient-dense foods for new mothers. And also a beautiful start-up company that I’m excited to be a part of called The Family Thrive, which is a soon-to-launch online wellness platform for parents — I’ve been shooting all of the recipes for the new website and I’m thrilled to see that project coming to life as we speak.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The first place I always want to head is the ocean – the sound of the waves & cool breezes are so peaceful. I went to Pepperdine University in Malibu for my Bachelor’s Degree, so I’d love take my friend on a cruise up PCH from Santa Monica to Malibu and stop at the Pier to eat some beautiful, locally-sourced organic cuisine at The Malibu Farm Cafe. Then go for an afternoon hike in the Santa Monica Mountains up the Zuma Trailhead for some great ocean views.

I’d also love to take my friend to Downtown LA to grab some coffee & wander the stalls at Grand Central Market. Then take a ride up the hill on the Angels Flight and walk a few blocks to check out the amazing architecture of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Pay a visit to The Broad museum to see their latest contemporary art exhibits. And we’d end that day by catching a baseball game at Dodger Stadium.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The person who deserves a huge shoutout in my journey is my late husband, Tim Watson. Without his unconditional love, support & incredible encouragement, I would never have taken the plunge to pursue my dreams in the Food Photography world full-time.

Website: www.annewatsonphoto.com

Instagram: @annewatsonphoto

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annewatsonphotography

Other: The new online wellness company that I’m part of: www.thefamilythrive.com

Image Credits
All photos taken by myself, Anne Watson, except for ‘AnneAndSonRussell.1.jpg’ taken by Kate Noelle of Kate Noelle Photography, @katenoelle

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