Annie Griffiths

First artist statement - written in phonetic Texan

When I grow up!

As a 7 year old drawling Texan (who was learning phonetically) I knew I was going to be a photographer when I grew up.  In fact, I was going to go on “fantasstick trips so I could tack pitchers of fames tings”. And to an animal loving second grader that laid on the rec room floor looking at the exotic pictures in the famously yellow magazine, I knew this could mean only one thing – I would be Jane Goodall with a camera. I would work for National Geographic!

And despite my path changing a bit over the last thirty years (although surprising little for someone that couldn’t even write in cursive yet!), I had the incredible experience of hearing an amazing woman that my seven year-old self thought that I was going to become.



Annie Griffiths Belt

Annie Griffiths

Annie (sure, first names, why not?) was one of the first female photographers to work for National Geographic, and Griffiths has photographed in more than a hundred countries during her illustrious career. She has worked on dozens of magazine and book projects for the National Geographic Society, including stories on Lawrence of Arabia, Baja California, Galilee, Petra, Sydney, New Zealand, and Jerusalem. Her photographs are gorgeous, she is warm and dynamic, she is humble, she is a mother that has managed to balance a family and a wonderful career. She is even close friends with one of my favorite authors – Barbara Kingsolver.

And — She spoke to a SOLD OUT crowd at KC’s new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts!!!!

I have been to see a lot of photographers speak, the Nelson-Atkins Museum hosts many, and I have been to many more at galleries, and have given a few presentations myself. I even sat for an hour trying desperately to understand three photographers as they talked about pinhole photographs – in Spanish. But this one was different!

I don’t think I can actually express what this meant to me. The little girl in me that grew up without knowing a single example of a woman photographer was awe struck to have this woman behind the lens celebrated in this grand hall. The adult in me got teary when a girl of about ten climbed across our legs to make her way to the microphone in the aisle to ask the first question of the Q&A.

She is truly an inspiration!

Be sure to check out her amazing images and her books!

And on behalf of the little girl that dreamed of being a phtographer – thank you Annie! Thank you Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts! Thank you National Geographic!



  1. bigjim March 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    such a sweet post, letter & story!! crazy you wrote it and even wilder you still have it!! you were a smarty then and still! and talk about focus (i had to!) and determination! you are and it seems always have been amazing and YOU are an inspiration!! xoj

    • Chris March 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      Thank you! I am blushing! I wish you could have gone with me to hear her speak – you would have loved it!

  2. blj March 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    I love it! And I can’t believe I was worried about your spelling back then. I haven’t figured out what a “mole” is and what work you would be doing there. But you have always been a smarty and an amazing person. Love you!!

    • Chris March 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

      Thanks Mom! And truth be told I’m still not a very good speller but I know how to use spellcheck to my advantage and I have a good editor. And the “mole” is the mall although I don’t know what I was going to be doing there either.

  3. Paul March 8, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Wow. What a great share. It is amazing that some people just know! There are adults that do not possess this kind of clarity. Very cool! p.s.phonetic Texan… wow!

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