Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna McNaught.
Anna, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have been surrounded by art my whole life. My grandfather was a published children’s book illustrator. My uncle was a well-known local architect. My aunts are painters. My cousin works as an animator. My mom is a photographer and basket maker. It was only natural for me to follow in their paths. I developed a strong passion for photography and design from a young age with a constant drive to create and observe the world around me.
I grew up in a small town called Montrose, Pennsylvania and as much as I wanted to get away, looking back now, I know that it gave me strong roots, a connection to the environment, and a sense of self that I bring forward in my work. Three years ago, I decided to move to LA to pursue a career in fashion photography. I struggled for almost a year looking for steady work and trying to figure out where I belong. Photography took a back seat and I pushed forward with my graphic design career and eventually found a job working as an in-house graphic and web designer for a Dental Laboratory. Something was missing, though. I had completely put aside photography and thought of it as a way to make additional income when corporations needed my help. I remember being younger and taking photographs of anything and everything that I saw because it made me happy. What had happened to that part of me? I suddenly decided that photography didn’t have to be about the money. I had a steady job at that point and had some time to have fun again. I bought a new camera and went out and started shooting. A spark went off within me that I thought I had lost. I had so much fun and realized I could combine my photography and my graphic design and create intricate composites that brought to life new lands, dreams, and imaginative ideas. It’s only been about six months since I’ve had this epiphany, but artistically and mentally, it has been one of the best 6 months that I’ve had. I’ve met some incredible people, traveled more than I would have in the past, shared great stories, and finally discovered who I am all over again.
Has it been a smooth road?
It has never been a smooth road! Although, I know I have it pretty good in the scheme of things. In the early days, I struggled with anxiety and slight depression. I wasn’t sure where I belonged, what I was supposed to do with my life, and where I wanted to be. These are emotions that most teens and college students go through, but at the time, it felt like the end of the world. After moving to LA, I came very close to moving back to the East Coast after a few short months. I was calling home and crying to my parents every day thinking that I made the wrong decision. I was lonely, jobless, and feeling lost. I really had to push myself outside of my comfort zone and many times faked the feelings of happiness just to keep pushing forward. I had a few jobs to keep busy and make some money to support myself but I wasn’t working towards my goals. Eventually, I got a steady job as a graphic designer and started to feel as though I had a reason to stay in LA; I was heading in the right direction. I also met my current boyfriend, which helped a lot!
I still miss my family and the east coast immensely and sometimes yearn to be back in the country but now I know that I made the right decision and have the rest of my life to see where the journey takes me.
What’s your outlook for the industry over the next 5-10 years?
I think that the industry will continue to head in the direction of digital interaction such as Instagram, Facebook etc. Although, the technology could surprise us and go in a completely different direction. It’s unfortunate because I really am a huge fan of print but thinks that the enhanced “digital world” will continue to put new art and artists in front of our eyes.
What would you say has been the biggest challenge for you over the course of your career?
The biggest challenge over the past few years was realizing that you really have to put yourself out there. I was a little naive in the beginning and thought the work would come to me. It’s also difficult in the beginning to receive negative feedback about your work. I remember feeling hurt and shut down but eventually, you have to turn it into constructive criticism and work even harder. Everyday takes an extreme amount of motivation and dedication. I’ve had to really push myself and tell myself that if this is my dream, I’m the only one who can make it happen.
What would you tell someone who is just starting out?
My greatest piece of advice for others just starting out is to stay true to yourself and where you come from. It’s a piece of advice passed on to me by one of my high school teachers and something I constantly remind myself of. Everyone has their own voice and it can be easily lost in a city such as Los Angeles. We are surrounded by successful and beautiful people. You just have to remember that no one else can be YOU. It sounds cliche but its completely true and something that has kept me grounded. If you know what YOU like and what YOU want, then you need to follow that and someday you will thank yourself for it!
- Website: www.amcnaught.com
- Phone: 5703960045
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: annamcnaughty
- Facebook: Anna McNaught Photography and Design
James Bonanno – Bio Photo