Thoughts about Giving: Have Camera, Will Travel

MS has become a steadying force in the fast-paced life and career of
music photographer Anna Webber

By Neal Zoren

Photo of Anna Webber holing a camera

MS gives structure to Anna Webber’s life. At age 25, the recently named MSAA Ambassador has built a reputation and career as a top portrait photographer in themusic industry.

Her work is diverse. Recent shoots include the ranking master of minimalist classical music, Philip Glass, and the contemporary alternative rock star Beck…together! This was quite a combination of musical styles!

Anna has taken several portraits of country music legend Willie Nelson. She is hosting a party, during which she will do portraits of participating bands, all at Nelson’s home in Austin. This party is a part of this year’s South by Southwest Festival, one of music’s biggest events. In February, she worked for L’Oréal and TRESemmé at FashionWeek in New York. In January, she was at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where she added music icons Paul Simon and Quincy Jones to her portfolio.

Anna maintains bases in New York City, Austin (where her brothers live), and Los Angeles (her hometown). Her life is busy. She can be anywhere at any time, including as a representative for MSAA!

Anna’s active life and ever increasing exposure via magazine spreads, album covers, etc. looked to be in jeopardy when she was diagnosed with MS in 2009. One of her brothers was diagnosed two years earlier.

Rather than keeping Anna from working and moving forward in her career, MS gave her life shape and focus. She says it grounded her. It provided her a schedule of sorts by which to pace her life and to make sure she paid attention to herself and her health amid the bustle.

“My injection is like a clock,” Anna says. “Whatever else I’m doing, I have to pause to take my medication. In that regard, MS has become a steadying force, a reality check.

“Except for my injection, my life has no regularity. Being aware of the need to take medication reminds me to exercise, watch what I eat, and be disciplined about health. Having MS gave me an attitude of wellness and proportion that might not have occurred to me if I wasn’t living with a chronic disease.

“MSAA helps by providing My MS Manager™. I downloaded the app onto my iPhone, and it reminds me when to take my injection while listing other medications I take, my exercise routine, and other things that help me keep control of MS.”

Like most creative people, Anna has always liked stories. Now she writes her own stories, and also plays percussion instruments, in addition to her photography. She finds expression in words and music, but pictures always dominated her imagination, and they have come to dominate her life.

“My mother gave me a 35mm Minolta camera when I was a child,” Anna says. “I joined a photography club, and that was the beginning. No one had to push me to delve deeper and deeper into photography. I was enamored with what you could capture on film.

“My father and two brothers are musicians. I began taking pictures of their band. While attending Pepperdine University, I met Baron Wolman, the first chief photographer for Rolling Stone. Although I was majoring in business and creative writing, I was able to study with Baron, and he became a mentor. “In my junior year, I went to Florence and studied with Jill Furmanovsky, a photojournalist whose work is collected by museums. She shot photos for Pink Floyd and many other legendary musicians. I learned a lot about portraits and other sides of photography, like developing 35mm film. I started taking pictures, getting published, getting commissions, and it all keeps going.”

As an MSAA ambassador, Anna will raise awareness about MS and talk about how the disease grounds her while she maintains an active life. She will make appearances on MSAA’s behalf, speak about MSAA when she is interviewed on talk shows and for magazines, and serve specifically as the ambassador for MSAA’s mobile phone app, My MS Manager.