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AWARDS 2019 CURATOR INTERVIEW: Alicia Hart

18 April 2019

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©️ Alicia Hart

Alicia Hart, Curator - Things

This years categories in the Student Awards are People, Places, Things.  Below we have the second in a series of inspiring interviews with the curators of this years Student Awards, Alicia Hart - providing an insight into what makes an award winning image.

Alicia Hart PortraitB W copy


Your career is really varied. Can you tell us more about what you do, and how you interchange between the different roles.
At the heart of all my different roles is my passion for commissioning and nurturing artistic talent.  As a Photo Editor working with some of the world’s leading publications like Arena Homme Plus, The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, FT weekend Magazine and the Wallpaper* brand.  Owning my own production company has allowed me to work in advertising and creative agencies and with brands like British Airways, Mayor of London's office and Guinness.   I have been lucky that new opportunities have arisen over the years and this has given me new challenges.  I have enjoyed learning new skills from great people.  Being an educator was a natural role having been in the industry for over 20 years. I felt I had a lot of knowledge to pass on to emerging photographers and illustrators.

When you are looking for photographers to commission what are the qualities you are looking for?
As a photo editor my main talent was commissioning stories that would suit particular photographers. Many have gone on to win awards or continued the projects that were assigned. Photographers developing personal projects that come from an authentic place are key. It is important to have depth to your practice. 

In advertising it is someone who can take a brief and be flexible to change.  The book needs to show the same depth as in editorial and many art buyers like to look through personal work rather than Ads.  Quite often the creative teams will have very strong ideas about what they want so they need someone who is happy to take a back seat creatively. Photographers will need to leave the ego at the door. Many makers understand this and the finance rewards should be higher than editorial.  

You will have seen many changes in the photographic industry. What do you feel is photography’s role today?
In advertising a vast majority of photographers are often doing stills of the back of TV. Many photographers will be used for content material for social media. Fees have gone down but more content is being commissioned.  Big brands desire more assets across many platforms globally. 

Editorial has taken a huge hit over the last ten years.  Most of the amazing photo editors have disappeared in our weekend supplements in the UK. Fees for photographers in the UK have been reduced.

Which photographer’s inspire you?
I’m not sure I would say photographers inspire me. I have a group of photographers I respect and love commissioning: Felitcy McCabe , Poulomi Basu, Dana Lixenburg, Stefan Ruiz, Tom Lovelace, Simon Roberts, Kate Peters, Spencer Murphy,  Jane Hilton, Catherine Hyland, and Chole Dewe Matthews to name a few.

Emma Bowkett is another photography director and curator and she inspires me as a friend and colleague, she has a brilliant mind.  Jaki Jo Hannan who works at Adam & Eve has been very generous with her knowledge about the advertising industry.  I am so proud she has made the digital platform @EqualLens and is trying to get more females commissioned in Advertising.  Val Williams is an icon in our industry, her books on photography are remarkable and she is so giving to the photography community.  The running theme for many of the people that inspire me is their giving nature to those who sit alongside them.

As curator of the ‘Things’ category, what in your opinion makes for an award winning image? And what would your advice be to students entering this category.
I am looking for images that hit me on an emotional level and feel fresh.  This is a wonderful category as it is so open.  My advice to students is to just enter and get your images out into the world.  My first job opportunity came from entering the Observer Hodge Award – I came runner up and had my first exhibition at the photographers’ gallery.  A friend had to enter my work, as I didn’t think my work was good enough.  This award could open doors for you at the beginning of your career.

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