Anne Menke:The Collision of Fashion & Culture
It’s not out of the ordinary for German-born Anne Menke to find herself on a three-day trek up a mountain in the Andes, or flying over the plains of Mongolia in a helicopter photographing models for Vogue while capturing the indigenous people and cultures in such a way that they transform from mere backdrop to reveal a sublime influence on the world of fashion. Anne is one of the world's most in-demand fashion photographers, lending her eye to trademark spreads for magazines and brands, such as Marie Claire, Vogue, Elle, Sports Illustrated, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, J. Crew and Nike.
When she is not traveling for work, she is at home in the beautiful seaside village known as Sayulita, Mexico. She spends her free time with her three children and her husband, surfing and helping out at the non-profit Niños del Sol and the Costa Verde International School, which she co-founded. The mission of the Costa Verde International School is to provide children and adults in Sayulita and the surrounding area with a quality progressive education that is culturally and economically inclusive and focused on environmental sustainability, and to advance ecological responsibility in Mexico.
In her critically-acclaimed coffee table book, See The World Beautiful, Anne travels the world documenting—not as a voyeur but as an insider—how fashion, culture and art collide. Below, she's honest with us about her passions and the challenges of pursuing them.
Your current state of mind?
A free spirit who needs to be fed with things I love: traveling and discovering new places, people, cultures, and discovering new projects …the Native Huichol Indios are currently on my mind.
Qualities you most adore in other women.
Strength and determination.
Quality you most deplore in other women.
What is the hardest thing about being you?
I never stop. Sometimes that is a pain to myself and to those around me.
How do you feel about your body?
Mostly great when I am active
What turns you on sexually?
What do you wish you could do better as a wife or lover?
Make more time for my husband.
Anything you want to do better as a mom?
I’m too busy sometimes and need to remind myself to get off the bloody phone.
Your strong suit as a mom?
When I am present I am really present. I’m like Little Miss Circus Director, curating and doing fun stuff for them and with them.
How does being a mom of three change the way you work?
I travel a lot but I always try to include them if they are able to travel with me and I’m going somewhere safe for them to travel. It’s not the easiest thing for me to do, but I make it work.
Is there something you wish your mom would have warned you about?
What are you intentionally doing differently with your kids than your mom did with you?
I am always there for them emotionally. My mum was not around a lot; she was too busy with herself.
Whether you believe it or not, give us an argument supporting why you are a perfect woman:
I can dream and I am happy and funny.
Something you want to tell your husband but haven't.
Nothing. I tell him everything. He is my absolute best friend.
The book or blogger that always makes you feel strong.
The book or song that always makes you feel romantic.
Wild Horses by The Rolling stones
Three most played songs or musicians on your iPod.
Bob Dylan’s Hurricane, The Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar, songs by Leonard Cohen
What helps you achieve creative flow?
I see a picture or a movie, I hear a song, I read a magazine article… and I start researching or dreaming and off I go creating a story.
Who are you most likely to seek guidance from in a time of stress: Therapist, life coach, friend, mother, partner, other?
My husband. And, I do need to talk things out when I am stressed.
What or whom do you have a love/hate relationship with?
Sometimes my work. Ironically, I love what I do and can not really live without that need to create, but I love being a full-time mum as well. I love being the cook, the driver and everything else that comes along with that.
Your current favorite blogs?
I don’t follow too many. Just sort of traipse across them here and there, but Designtripper.com is one I like.
When is it okay to lie?
I do not think it is okay to lie, but the exception would be, sometimes, to make someone feel better.
If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?
A cook and a marine biologist
Why do you deserve success?
Because I work really hard!
Where do you see your career in 10 years?
I am where I want to be; no need to change
Why are you drawn to live in Sayulita?
I love surfing and I always wanted to live by the sea. Sayulita is a unique blend of simple village life with a cosmopolitan mix of people which is so important to me after living in Paris & New York City and traveling the world.
Your most challenging project and how did you endure it?
Shooting in India 15 years ago with no money. One weird thing after another kept happening. I remember breaking down crying more than once from frustration while continuing to search for solutions to the problems that kept coming up. In the end I got the job done and the photos turned out to be beautiful. Everyone, including me, was happy in the end.
Your favorite painter?
Name a current fear. By naming it here, you release it.
What question are you glad I did not ask?
How many men I’ve slept with.
What's the first thing you'll do after sending the answers to this Q & A?
Enjoy a glass of wine.
All photos by Anne Menke, except the last one on right taken of her by Hana. Anne is the woman walking on air (an ordinary occurrence for her).