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AWARDS 2019 CURATOR INTERVIEW: Zelda Cheatle

23 April 2019

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Zelda Cheatle, Curator - People

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

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What is your role and what does it entail?
After being involved in exhibiting and publishing photography, working within higher education and putting together a large collection of photography for a fund, I now am curating exhibitions internationally, editing and writing for some photo books , and continue to work with several universities, on both B.A. and M.A .photography courses.

How did you get into curating?
Having studied photography and beginning working at the Photographers Gallery in the 1980’s - I learned from all the work accomplished there and from the exhibitions visited in museums and galleries. The concept of the “curator” as a creative and specific role was only recognised towards the turn of the century.

If you had to pick one piece of work or project that you are most proud of what would it be?
I think the Dubai Photography Exhibition was probably the biggest feat I accomplished, superb work from 23 countries, 868 pictures from every corner of the world, the most important and significant work of the 20th and 21st centuries. 128 photographers work was exhibited. But every show has its place in my affections. The AOP 50 was a spectacular show in an extraordinary space.

Which photographer’s inspire you?
There are so many to choose from, it’s hard to pinpoint which. Old school - I like Florence Henri, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, David Goldblatt, Helen Chadwick, Abbas Kiarostami, Dora Mar, Lee Miller, - And there are truly excellent contemporary photographers that I find enormously inspirational.

As curator of the People category what in your opinion makes for an awards winning image?  and what would your advice be to students entering this category?
The images that work best are often the most simple and direct. A “winning” image is often a combination of good composition, a sense of connection with the person / people photographed, some luck with light or emotion or expression, a mood or feeling that makes for an image that draws the viewer in. 

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