We had the good fortune of connecting with Renee Anjanette and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Renee, how do you think about risk?
I was raised in an area of the country where there were few people and we were very isolated, so it was up to me to create my own fun, my own adventure. I was also allowed a lot of freedom and I think that made me very comfortable being alone and handling things on my own. Living in the country was a hard life in many ways as I had to handle situations like snakes and wild life and harsh weather. I had to solve problems on my own because I was an only child until the age of 9 and even then my twins brothers were so much younger, I truly felt alone most of my childhood . I also felt responsible, as the oldest child and as the girl, and though it is common as the eldest child, to to imbued with responsibility, my family lived a very unstable and chaotic life, so I developed a huge “responsibility complex” let’s call it! Yes, I was the one in every situation I was placed who was charged to be the leader, and I assumed the role with ease, and with excitement. I feel comfortable taking the lead, and searching out the path, or how to make a path where there is none. I always remember my favorite weekend activity as child…I would “challenge” myself to take the long nature route to my grandparents house, which meant not walking down the dirt road a mile, but instead traversing the creek through the woods which would take me hours. I would find all kinds of new treasures and see a multitude of wildlife, fish and snakes along the way. I would lay in the small water falls and try to catch those insects that skim the water surface, pull leaches off my feet, and I loved it. I was not scared once.
I did not know what I know now and am horrified that I was allowed such freedom but in the end I am prepared to take on any challenge!!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It has been a long haul…don’t know what people mean by “Life goes by so fast!”. I feel like I have lived many lives and when I think back to that girl who chose to go to college in Santa Barbara, Ca to study photography, I don’t even recognize her. I would disagree with many of her assumptions and her outlook in many ways.
I left a small mid western town that people only leave, and chose to go out on my own and try to make a living doing something I loved, forever separating myself from the blue collar world I knew and my family knew for as many generations as I could discover. I did take with me my hard work ethic and my no nonsense low ego approach to life, which I think is more common to the mid west and to blue collar people in general. It has served me well.
I have been able to maintain a career as a professional commercial photographer, since graduating from college and through many incarnations over many hurdles, including what I thought was to be the worst-the 2008 recession, only to be leveled to a place lower than I have ever been creatively, professionally, and financially, the pandemic of 2020.
I am now rebuilding, rebranding and reinventing my self and my photography again, and I am hopeful as always.
I must say you have to be a positive thinker to be a successful entrepreneur, maybe even delusional in your positive outlook at times, because there will be times no one will believe in what you are doing and everyone you know will ask:
“How can you stand the stress?”,
“How can you stomach the risk?”,
“Have you ever thought about changing careers?”
I was an only child until the age of 9 and I attribute a lot of my entrepreneurial spirit to that “birth order”. I am ok with being alone and forging ahead when there is no roadmap, it feels natural to me.
I am now creating a new map and am excited about the possibilities of what this next phase develops into!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to Santa Monica and get them a bike and we would ride along the beach path down to Venice and have lunch and then sit by the ocean in Playa Del Ray where the beach is huge and almost no one is there usually!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
No man or woman is an island and I certainly had my share of good people and amazing books to help me survive and thrive in this crazy world!
John Nagel-My first photo instructor who helped me to see I could choose photography as a career and directed me to an amazing college (Brooks Institute) that was essential to my growth and success going forward.
All of the photographers I worked under especially the first, Dan Dreyfus. He taught me the dedication to craft and technique and he showed me how to run a successful business using those skills. He is also a beautiful human being.
All of the professional mentors I had along the way, especially Michael Ruppert and Byll Williams, who were both incredible sources of positive support and provided unending answers to questions from a budding photographer trying to make her way. There was one woman business owner I grew to love and admire beyond words, Ruth Tulino. I later purchased her business along with her lead designer and we went on to form a photography-design agency. She believed in me at a pivotal time and I grew so much under her management. She has passed now, sadly.
Finally, my partner in all things since we were both assistants struggling to make a place for ourselves, Sienna DeGovia, food stylist and fine artist.
She and I have produced the work of which I am most proud. We have helped each other through every phase of our careers and her family have become my family of choice.
There are so many others including my ex husband who believed in me when we were just kids together exploring the world, and my son who continues to be my right arm in all things and is such an old soul, he has helped to see what it is I really want, and who I really am at times whenI wasn’t not sure.
I do want to also say I could name many others who are so precious to me…I had tp stop somewhere!!!