In Conversation With Anna Schneider

Interviewed by Timothy Frazier
Images by Anna Schneider

TF: How did you get into photography? 

AS:  I grew up in a pretty insular, rural Northern California town. My parents are both artists and I was into art from an early age, but growing up I didn’t really have much exposure to the potential of photography as an art form. When I was thirteen I took a trip to NY with my family and happened upon a Lee Friedlander retrospective at the MoMA. It cracked my world wide open and was probably the first time I ever really understood what photography was capable of. I co-opted my parents’ digital point and shoot, set it to “b&w” mode and was obsessed for the rest of the trip. I never really stopped taking pictures after that, and ended up studying photography in college where I was introduced to film and totally fell in love with the process. I haven’t looked back- photography has been the biggest constant in my life since then.

TF: Tell me about your series, "North".

AS: Last summer my partner Nick and I took a road trip from our home in Sonoma County, CA up to BC, over to Vancouver Island and back home again- in two weeks! In retrospect it was probably a bit ambitious; I have definitely never been so excited to get out of a car as I was when we got home. But it was also totally amazing and inspiring to cover so much ground and pass through the most incredible variety of landscapes (forests, lakes, deserts, beaches, mountains) in such a short period of time. I came home with a renewed appreciation for the magic of the west coast and a bag of undeveloped film.

TF: Tell me about your series, "John".

AS: I met John on the above-mentioned trip when we responded to his craigslist ad for hand-split cedar shakes. We stopped by his house in a small town in rural BC to check them out and ended up staying for a good 2+ hours sitting on his back porch listening to stories from his days as a logger. He still fells trees by himself, chops his own firewood, hikes up the mountain to forage for berries and mushrooms, smokes the fish he catches in a smoker he made inside an old refrigerator, and loves to dance. I kept my camera out the whole time, simultaneously enjoying the moment too much to want to disrupt it with a camera and also too inspired not to.

TF: What's your favorite thing about living in Northern California? How do you think it has impacted or influenced the way you photograph?

AS: I’m so attached to the incredible access to nature that Northern California offers. It’s peaceful, and my life operates at a much slower pace up here. I’m still close to SF and I do sometimes feel torn between country and city, but ultimately I think I’m most inspired when I have the space to breathe and think without the stress of the city hustle. I’ve spent most of my mid-late twenties living and/or working in close relationship with the land. These experiences have definitely forced me to slow down and really notice the details of my surroundings, which has been hugely influential to my photography.

TF: Outside of photography, what are you interested in?

AS:  I find that it’s so important for me to switch it up and make and appreciate art outside the realm of photography on a regular basis. I go through periods where I’m totally uninspired and can’t seem to pick up my camera, so I turn to music or painting or mixed media or design and somehow it always brings me back to myself and the inspiration to pick up my camera again. Travel is also a huge source of inspiration; I’m pretty much always scheming up a new trip. I love camping and hiking and basically any excuse to be outside. I also spend a lot of time thinking about and enjoying food: cooking, eating, growing, appreciating. Recently I’ve really come to understand how necessary it is for me to slow down and appreciate moments of calm with daily rituals like meditation, tea drinking, reading, etc.

TF: If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

AS: Teleportation! Is that even a super power? Many of the people I love most don’t live nearby and I constantly struggle with the distance and finding the time/money to see them. I’d love to be able to pop in for a dinner with a far away friend and be home in my bed by nighttime.

TF: Future plans or upcoming projects?

AS: I’m not too much of a planner and tend not to work in ‘projects’ so much. I think I generally shape my life around the experiences I want to have or places or people I want to explore, and then the photos kind of follow. Often a theme doesn’t really emerge until later. I’ve been trying to be more intentional lately, so we’ll see what comes of that in 2019. I’ve been shooting a lot in the past few months and am currently in the process of culling and organizing. Hopefully I’ll have something new to share soon.

AS: Beyond photo, I’m hoping for lots of travel in the upcoming year- I’ve been daydreaming about the southwest and desert a lot lately, so perhaps a trip there is imminent. Nick and I have also been in the process of building a little house for the past year+, which has been the focus of most of our attention for quite some time. We’re finally on the home stretch and I’m really looking forward to wrapping up the finishing details and fully enjoying our new space. We have plans to start a little farm on the property this spring. Lots of new beginnings!

Anna Schneider is a photographer based in Occidental, CA. You may view more of her work on her website,