Annie Watt was flashing her 100 Watt smile. It was the opening of her photo exhibit Famous: A Decade of The Celebrated and The Legendary, at the Laverdin Gallery on Park Avenue, hosted by Martha Stewart, Sanna Sabagh, Randy Jones, Geoffrey Bradfield, Eleanora and Anna Kennedy, Donald and Barbara Tober, Anne Akers and Sharon Marantz Walsh.
Tom Hanks, Blake Lively, Tony Bennett, Meryl Streep, Wendy Williams, Spike Lee, Hugh Jackman, Whoopi Goldberg, Wynton Marsalis, Iris Apfel, Jane Fonda, Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera, Christie Brinkley, and Diane von Furstenberg will be among Annie’s iconic subjects.
The 300 bold faces that had RSVP’d in time were all being photographed by their picture on the wall. Negotiating the room crowded with A-listers who all knew one another was a feat. But the feat was worth it.
Annie is THE social photographer who shoots the social crowd at their galas and private parties, in New York City, Palm Beach, the Hamptons, Los Angeles, London and Paris. She’s put them in New York Social Diary, Quest, Avenue, New York Lifestyles, Conde Nast and Hearst magazines, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Veranda — and Hamptons.com.
It was a fun and unique twist to curate the show from her own guest list, and a lot of last minute work. As the RSVP’s started coming in, Annie started going to the lab, sometimes printing 50 different photos a day.
“I know some of the most successful and famous people in their fields,” she told us. “They are all stars. And I had photographed everyone who had responded to my invite. So, I decided to take the most fun or interesting photo that I thought would entertain them.”
“My event planner Nancy Swiezy and I wanted the look of the room to refer to a dark room, so she came up with the idea of stringing all the shots on pipes and drapes.” Photos were strung against matt grey wall coverings. “It looks better for photography,” Annie explained. There was plenty of that going on.
You’d think she’s been doing this her whole life, but, Watt has lived the proverbial nine lives. When she started shooting for New York Social Diary, she was actually a private eye. And she kept that day job for awhile.
As a private eye, she often had to pose as someone else. Now she’s called “The Posing Expert,” because of the way she helps people position themselves for the camera. “I can look at someone and see how they should stand, tilt and pose to their best advantage,” she told us. In the late 70s, she ran the Barbizon Modeling Agency and its School as Director, working with photographers and portfolios to get the right shots. She even created a 25 page brochure called “Be A Model or Look Like One” that flew off the shelves.
Watt is also known for fastidious editing and post production. Not so known: She spent eight years working at Madison Avenue’s top digital retouching facility, Graphic Systems.
In the late 90s and early aughts, Watt was a head hunter in the IT field, in New York, Tokyo and Chicago. Now, she puts her talent for finding talent to use running the Annie Watt Agency, grooming a select team of skilled photographers and videographers.
Annie also once created and helmed the Spree Executive Shopping Service for such major corporations as Eastern Airlines, managing significant staff. Today, AnnieWatt.com is a full service digital event photography agency that offers functionality tailored to high profile event photography – with password protected galleries, captioned photos and the ability to search and cross-reference guests throughout events, locations, and dates. Each gallery displays a list of guest in attendance and provides instant download access of all images for accredited members of the media.
In 2014, Annie celebrated a solo exhibition of her photography titled Impromptu Portraits, at the Galerie Dumonteil on Park Avenue, NYC. She donated all proceeds to the American Heart Association. Annie continues to contribute to charities throughout her career by donating a percentage of the proceeds from print sales. She will donate proceeds of Famous: A Decade of The Celebrated and The Legendary at the Laverdin Gallery, to the Alumni Association of the School of Visual Arts, in gratitude for the four year scholarship she received from that school.
She holds a Masters Degree in Art History from Alfred University, a teaching degree from Hunter College, and has taught photography at SVA.