In a glittering career, spanning nearly sixty years, Tessa Traeger has a list of accomplishments that most of us can only dream about. She has exhibited widely in London, Paris and New York, and her work is held in a number of leading galleries and museums, such as the NPG and the V&A in London, The Biblioteque National in Paris, and The Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Traeger is the acknowledged maestro of still life photography and is accredited with elevating food photography into an art form. She produced the photographs for the Vogue food series for sixteen years and worked regularly for American House & Garden magazine.
Her books include A Gardener’s Labyrinth, for the NPG, with husband Patrick Kinmonth, A Visual Feast with Arabella Boxer, I Am Almost Always Hungry with Lora Zarubin, and Fern Verrow with Jane Scotter and Harry Astley.
In her book Voices of the Vivarais, the text and photographs were both by Tessa. Most recently she published Wild is the Wind with poet Mark Haworth-Booth about her home in North Devon. She worked in Rossetti Studios in Chelsea and her work has been funded by an active career in advertising which she greatly enjoyed.
Her clients included many iconic names, many of whom became friends …. Jasper Conran, Laura Ashley, Crabtree and Evelyn, Wedgewood , Whirlpool, Kenco, Jordans , Allinsons and many others.
Now devoting most of her time to her own work, rather than commissions, she is still pushing boundaries and exploring new ways of creating artistic works through photography. Tessa also has a love of gardens and photographing people. This is borne out in her portraits of traditional hill farmers living in South West France, and also a commission by the National Portrait Gallery to photograph 50 of the most well-known horticulturalists in the UK. However, her style is not linear; subjects such as dance and decaying glass plate negatives also feature, inspiring exhibitions and books.
Tessa’s photography is not only significant in relation to contemporary living but also through her consideration of other art forms, her long-term planning of images, and the transient nature of her subject matter. Tessa naturally works in a way that – despite her association with still-life photography – is the opposite of still. She has no desire to stop being a photographer, as she told the Evening Standard’s Patricia Nicol in 2019; “Being a photographer is so much more fun than not being a photographer.”