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Monday, May 27, 2013

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Annie Watt, Photographer Extraordinaire Our Coverage Sponsored by Stribling and Associates

Annie Watt

For over 30 years, Stribling and Associates has represented high-end residential real estate, specializing in the sale and rental of townhouses, condos, co-ops, and lofts throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, and around the globe. Stribling has more than 200 professional brokers who use their respected expertise to provide personalized service to buyers and sellers at all price levels. A separate division, Stribling Private Brokerage, discreetly markets properties over $5 million, and commands a significant market share in this rarified sector of residential real estate. Stribling is the exclusive New York City affiliate of Savills, a leading global real estate advisor with over 200 office in 48 countries. 
Check out their listings: 
& their most recent State of the Market: 
Whom You Know Congratulates their new President, Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan: 

Annie Watt’s life has remained true to her two greatest passions: artistic expression and tackling challenges head on. Annie’s passion for the arts, combined with a determined work ethic and impressive academics, won her a four-year full tuition scholarship at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and the opportunity to study with such notable artists as Chuck Close, Paul Wagner, Jack Potter and Milton Glazer. After graduation, she continued her education and received a teaching certification from Hunter College and pursued a Masters in Art History at Alfred University in Scotland.

At 24, Annie became the youngest Agency Director at the Barbizon School for Modeling.  During her tenure she developed a critical eye for what “worked” in a model’s portfolio and how to make the subject a more marketable commodity. This exposure to photographer’s needs and the business of photography led Annie to the Graphic Systems Group, a company that was a pioneer in high-end digital photo manipulation. GSG created some of the most iconic special effects in images at the time. At GSG, she also developed an eye and appreciation for fantastic images and special effects shot by very talented photographers. As Annie learned more about retouching, she became interested in manipulating and creating the digital imagery herself and gained a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable digital photo-retouching experts – all before Photoshop was created. This early and extensive work on creating the perfect look for each subject carries on through her work today.

Annie divided her time between South Florida and New York expanding her business. While photographing a party, she was approached to photograph a fundraiser benefit for a school servingchildren with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Annie found that photographing for the benefit of others was her calling and true to her heart. That experience is a catalyst to much of the work she does today.

When Annie met Roger Webster and Jason Grant, they asked her to work as a social photographer with Webster Light Grant Communications. Roger introduced her to David Patrick Columbia and Jeffrey Hirsch, the two men behind New York Social Diary. They offered her the opportunity to photograph the biggest and brightest events in fundraising as well as capturing NYC's social elite and celebrities for their on-line magazine.

One of Annie’s biggest asset as a photographer is that her client's trust her to present them in the most flattering light. Her photography style has an emphasis on capturing candid photos besides the posed shots showing people standing for the camera. Other website innovations include a “private events” section, which allow clients to edit pictures before they are posted publicly. Additionally, publicists and clients appreciate the Media outreach and how Annie’s office staff assists with photo submissions to the Media. Her personal success in a competitive business has given her the greatest challenge: the creation of a new photo agency to serve the needs of society, industry and the media.

Annie's work, along with three other talented photographers: David Dupuy, Michael McAuliffe and Mike Jachles can be found at, along with an impressive list of clients that include: American Cancer Society, Casita Maria, The Couture Council, Fountain House, Fund for Park Avenue, Hearst Publishing Company, Red Cross, Holiday House, The Lighthouse, Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC Opera Gala, NYU Medical Center, Perlman Music Program, Susan G. Komen, Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.’s mission is “doing well by doing good”, covering over hundreds of charitable functions each year and donates a portion of the proceeds of print sales to the fund-raising organization.   She is always one of our most favorite people to see at events and Annie Watt is absolutely an unsung hero at them.  
We are so pleased to present Annie Watt as our latest Mover and Shaker!  Peachy Deegan interviewed Annie Watt for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: How old were you when you got your first camera, what model was it and what did you take pictures of at the time? 
Annie Watt: I was given a brownie swing camera as a teenager and I shot mostly pictures around the neighborhood in Hollywood, Florida. I remember shooting 24 or 36 pictures per roll of film, getting the film developed and printed at the drug store until I took a photography class and built my own darkroom in the bathroom.

How many cameras do you own today, what are the strengths of each and what specifically do you use each for?
 I am switching from being a Canon lover (sold my 30D and 5D Mark II) to using my light weight Nikon D5000 with an 18 to 200 lens and full frame Nikon D3 with my trusty 24-70 lens. My little (always in my purse) camera is a Panasonic Lumix.

How does photography make you joyful? 
I have visited Great Britain, Europe, China, Israel, India and asked locals if I could photograph them, not speaking their language, just with a nod and a point to my camera. I feel fearless and never alone when I have my camera.

What pictures are you proudest of and why? 
I was photographing the 150th Anniversary of Carnegie Hall, as one of 20+ photographers shooting the red carpet. I turned around and saw VIPs and celebrities avoiding the carpet and walking in to the dinner from behind so I starting shooting and got exclusive shots. Being observant and getting the photo others don’t is the opportunity I look for.

How do you identify the most charismatic and photogenic individuals at an event when you know no one yet? 
My style of shooting is photojournalistic – observing people and shooting candids. I watch for people who smile when they speak and if I am shooting for a magazine I look for a variety of fashionable colors and style. When I need a posed photo then I offer assistance with posing techniques that work to make the body look slimmer and more flattering. I want women and men to enjoy being photographed, whether it’s by me or any photographer.

What are your thoughts on airbrushing and Photoshop?
 When a friend asked me to teach him how to use Photoshop I suggested that first we start with a pencil and I would teach him how to draw. He said, “I can’t draw”. I responded, “Photoshop is like a pencil, it’s just another tool used to express yourself artistically.” I use Photoshop to enhance images in a way that I imagine an image should be, in the same way I take pencil to blank paper and imagine a drawing.

How do you remember Roger Webster and what should everyone know about our friend Roger who did not have the chance to meet him? 
The last job Roger and I worked on together was for the American Cancer Society in the Hamptons. We arrived late because he wasn’t feeling well and after the event Roger went into the hospital. I felt so close to Roger and it wasn’t until I attended his funeral that I realized he created that special feeling with so many wonderful people.

How did you like Scotland? 
My father was born in Glasgow, Scotland. I had the opportunity to study abroad through Alfred University, with credit towards my Masters of Fine Arts. One of my favorite memories was going to the Orkney Islands and gathering cockles and mussels along the shoreline and going back to the house to make seafood chowder.

How do you find talented people to work with? 
The “universe” presents me with great people and I pay attention. I met my current assistant Megan Powers while sitting next to her in a Thai restaurant. Megan was new to New York. I told her I needed help at an event and she offered to assist me. Little did I know I had just hired the sweetest gal I’ve ever met who was also a priority intern for the Office of Regional Security in the American Embassy in Moscow, graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Oklahoma with a major in International Relations and minors in Spanish and Russian;a recipient of the International Baccalaureate Diploma and a National Merit Finalist; Megan was valedictorian of her high school in St Louis, MO. and speaks English, Spanish and Russian, plus sings Jazz. All I can say is “Thank you universe.”

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence? 
My grandmother had a strong influence on me because after I did my homework, and received my grade, Grandma would re-check for errors that she felt the teacher missed and would let me know of the additional corrections that were needed. I never told my teacher. I appreciated my grandmother and felt fortunate to have such a smart family member.

What are you proudest of and why? 
I am proud that I am making a living as a professional photographer and that I have an opportunity to help so many charities. In the beginning of my photography career I took out a bank loan to pay my bills just so I could pursue this career.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
Publish my “Pose Perfectly” book and How To Pose videos.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
I am honored to be published in so many magazines and thrilled when someone tells me my photo of them is their favorite.

What one word best describes you and why? 
Sexy. Oh, I don’t think I need to say why.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
In any swimming pool.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
 My favorite shop is B& H photo – they already have most of my money.

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why? 
I would love to hire a recommended financial planner so I can understand if retirement is or is not in my financial future.

What is your favorite drink? 
Costa Rican coffee – I add chocolate Stevia and vanilla almond milk.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
My boyfriend and I went to a party and were bored so we started chatting about what we would do on a fantasy vacation. He wanted to go on an African safari. By the end of the cocktail party we had our entire trip planned out and two weeks later we were in Kenya!

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 
This is a hard one for me because I love to cook. I would say any ethnic restaurant would entertain me because of how each culture varies with their use of herbs and spices.

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature? 
I found the phone book interesting: in New York the thickest part of the yellow pages lists Attorneys, whereas in Hong Kong the thickest part of the phone book lists Herbalists.

Who would you like to be for a day and why? 
I like being me.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
A scholarship at the School of Visual Arts for students who can’t afford the tuition and art supplies.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
Walking Harlem to Chinatown.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
My best friend Julie Tupler and I took a Staycation in NYC and instead of spending money on hotels and airfare we spent $5,000 in 4 days eating in good restaurants and buying whatever pleased us… organic mani/pedis, Opera tickets, shopping.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
If I could have dinner with two people then my answer would be: my parents. My father passed away at age 75 when I was 15 years old and my mother passed away three years ago at age 84. I would love to see them again.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 
I photographed a preview exhibition of Consuelo Vanderbilt’s jewelry and clocks that are being auctioned at the Doyle Gallery. One piece caught my eye, the Mystery Clock. It was created as the result of collaboration between jeweler Louis Cartier and master clockmaker Maurice Couet, who had studied the clock designs of French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdini. This clock mesmerized viewers for its use of illusion; the hands of the clock float amid a rock crystal case and rotated on invisible crystal disks, the gears hidden within the gold columns. Who knew? Houdini designed clocks!

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
As a young girl I was encouraged by my mother to get involved in charitable events since I was 10 years old. Now when I photograph charity events and fundraisers I donate a percentage of my fee and print sales back to the organizations that hire me. I am happiest when the donation exceeds my fee and the organization basically gets free photography and media exposure.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Cameras with ultra-high pixel density are overrated, in my opinion. Pixel density matters up to a point, because it improves sharpness, but then it plateaus. Underrated: shooting on automatic. Don’t worry about all the buttons on a camera, just shoot. There is plenty of time to read your camera’s manual.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it? 
Charitable Peachy is one of my favorite columns. Peachy and I are often at the same events, which I'm hired to photograph. Peachy too is snapping shots, plus interviewing VIPs, then going home and writing her story and publishing it to provide both national and international coverage that she knows is important to the organization.

Have you tried The Peachy Deegan yet and if not, why not?
 I haven’t yet, because you will rarely see me drinking any alcohol, however I do have a sweet tooth and would love to share a Peachy Deegan with Peachy Deegan.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 
If I won the lottery I wouldn’t change much about my life except two things… hire someone to carry my equipment and a driver.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?, for contact info and follow my blog at

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