We had the good fortune of connecting with Annemarie Comes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Annemarie, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
The most difficult decision I had to make was deciding to end my teaching/counseling career to launch into Fine Art/Landscape Photography. Changing ones career path after so many years of training and education was a hard decision to make. Education was so rewarding and it had molded me into who I was. There were so many unknowns on the journey I was about to embark on and certainly no guarantees. I took the “leap of faith” and decided to follow my passion and do what I had dreamed of doing all these years. Still it is a work in progress. Adventure, “seeing new lands and experiencing new cultures” had always been a huge part of who I was. I traveled all over the United States with my family growing up and studied abroad twice during my college years. My first photography class was taken in Italy back in 1993 on my first trip overseas. Capturing the beauty in Europe was so inspirational to me. There was nothing like walking the streets of Europe and then immediately developing my film and watching the image emerge in the dark room. I quickly realized that traveling, capturing the beauty of the land and making connections with many in several different countries was my passion. I couldn’t be more sure that I am on the right path after following my passion for several years, traveling abroad extensively in the United States extensively with the focus on my home state-Arizona. While the decision to leave teaching and all of my amazing students was a difficult choice, I am happy I decided to chase the beauty here in the southwest to share those “unique and magical moments” with the world! I may not be inspiring students anymore in a school setting, but I do believe and hope that I am inspiring many others in a positive/different way.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have always been a believer in inspiring others! I do believe that is why I became an art teacher in the first place. I wanted to teach students about the masters and inspire them by studying the famous works of art. I even wanted to “show them” the famous European works of art by taking them to Italy and Spain to see these works in person. I was able to make this happen as I led a high school group abroad in 1997. Sharing the beauty of Europe with them was beyond rewarding. I had hopes to travel and live stream my art experiences back in the 1990’s but the technology simply wasn’t there yet. I did walk through Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France and video taped it (back in the VHS days) brought it back for my students so they could have a “personal/virtual tour”.
This world needs more positivity and everyone deserves to see the “beautiful moments in time”. Not everyone is able to get out to watch the sun set, or to travel to far away unique destinations. Life can be so busy and many are caught in the cycle of balancing life and work. I might be slightly addicted to beauty and nature but honestly feel it is the “best addiction” out there. I really do try to capture the unique beauty of Arizona and the Southwest daily. If the sun is setting………then I am there-clouds ARE preferable! I definitely try to get to the local spots where the light is unique or the color is intense so everyone can enjoy Arizona and those special moments along with me. It has been a challenging yet rewarding journey. I have learned so much over the years through application, working with various cameras/lenses, other photographers and have especially learned the “lay of the land” throughout Arizona and the Southwest after so much travel. I continue to put one foot in front of the other always day in and day out. There will always be daily hurdles to jump and I will continue to jump them and learn how to jump them even better than before. The pandemic has contributed to delays in travel and safety has naturally been the number one concern, but I have to say that nature and photography has been my peace and inspiration throughout this pandemic year. I still travel locally daily seeking the “stunning sunsets or beauty” that nature has offered us during these tough times. Sharing this beauty has given many….who are home “hope and beauty as inspiration”worldwide! Social media has allowed this positivity and beauty to be seen my millions! So grateful for all of the Arizona news stations for sharing my images here locally on TV, Instagram, Facebook, organizations like you and additionally some national news platforms on social too. I am most excited about continuing to capture and share the beauty with so many.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have been so fortunate to have many close friends come to visit and adventure with me here in the Southwest. I am always thrilled to plan their adventure and share the beauty with them. I think I have always had “the tour guide” thing in me since sharing the beauty is my priority. I won’t lie though…..a photo adventure trip with me is not relaxing. I like to beyond “pack it in” and maximize our visits to locations catching sunrise, sunset and more daily. While we don’t end up sleeping much, the experiences together in the Southwest are way more memorable! Night photography is always exciting which makes an experience cliff side a lot more memorable than when there is light around. (Safety first always though) Ideal locations to visit in Arizona would be all four of our castles here in the Phoenix and Campo Verde Area, Sedona, Jerome, Antelope Canyon/Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Petrified National Forest and of course our amazing Grand Canyon! But never forget about the smaller places either. The colossal cave, Degrazia In The Sun Art Museum and Saguaro National are also great places to see in the south near Tucson. One of the most exciting places includes Havasupai Falls but a permit is needed in advance and the journey is a unique and tough one since it is a 12 mile hike in. Meeting the Navajo people/kids in Havasupai Falls, Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley would be some of my favorite memories.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to my parents, family and teachers/professors who have supported me from a very young age until now. I have been inspired by my mom (also and artist) since childhood. Watching her paint and create throughout her life has always encouraged me to do the same. My elementary teachers also helped me to channel my creativity daily and my high school art teacher allowed me to take creativity to a whole new level. He even invited me back to his class for my student teaching internship as an art teacher. That was a surreal experience. Several Fine Art Professors in college were inspirational too. Each and every one contributed to who I am today offering experiences with various media. My family has always supported and encouraged me to capture the beauty and to do what I love. I couldn’t be more grateful. I usually try to bring one or two family members along when traveling or even to see the sun set. I do believe they will always think of me when they see our beautiful sun sets or those amazing clouds floating around. So many have helped to love, support and encourage what I do. Over the years….as social media has grown and expanded and sharing imagery has become a daily deal, fellow photographers, artists, followers like, comment and connect with me. This network of amazing people inspires me, keeps me sharing and longing for the adventure and/or stunning moments in time.
The image/Portrait of myself was taken by Neal Summerton.