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AOP Awards 2020 Curator Interview - Katy Niker

23 October 2019

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© Deirdre O’Callaghan

The AOP Awards 2020 are now open! The 36th AOP Awards looks set to be the most exciting yet, with new Moving Image and Innovation categories in every award, and the addition of a new award - the Emerging Talent Award. Read on for the first in our series of interviews with our Awards Curators, where we quiz them on their roles in the industry, and what they will be looking for in their respective categories. This week we have Katy Niker, Agent and curator of the Emerging Talent Award.



Can you tell us about your journey to running a successful agency?

I joined David Burnham as his PA straight from finishing my degree in Photography. I spent the next few years learning everything I could from him - how to present photographer’s work to the agencies, breaking down a brief or layout in order to be able to put estimates together, negotiating budgets and contacts, learning how to produce shoots (manage crew, manage client expectations, timings, budget, reconciliation, billing and chasing payments). The more I proved I had a grip on these elements of being an agent, the more responsibility I was given and the larger the shoots I became responsible for producing. After 6 years David retired and so I took the big leap of essentially buying the company from him and so in 2000 created Burnham Niker. David was no longer involved in the company, however I kept his name as I wanted to acknowledge the history behind the stable of photographers & his role in my career development.


·      Which photographers do you think are doing great work at the moment?

There are really too many to be able to isolate out a few. In such a competitive creative field, photographers are really challenged to create work that stands out against the masses. Although it is very difficult to be truly original these days, essentially it is the photographers that are able to find their own unique perspective on what they are photographing (whatever the genre) and develop their own style in terms of how they want to present their perspective to the viewer.


·      Representing many award winning photographers over the years, can you talk about the importance of entering awards and how your career can benefit from it?

Awards are the opportunity to get your imagery in front of some of the most respected & experienced creative people in the industry, that work across a diverse variety of roles, people that you might not otherwise get the chance to present your work too. If selected to be a finalist you get the fantastic PR of having your work presented to the industry as being amongst the best of the best.


·      As first time curator of the New Emerging Talent Award what would your advice be to photographers entering?

Don’t try to predict what you think the judges are looking for. Try and look at your work objectively & select work that you feel best represents you creatively & as the unique individual you are. If you are unsure ask a friend or colleague, whose creative opinion you respect, to take a look at what you are thinking of entering to see if they feel you have made the best choices. Sometimes photographers can be too close to a piece of work for reasons that don’t necessarily mean that the imagery is their best, hence having another opinion can help ensure you are choosing your best work.

With all this in mind, enter as many images as you can afford to as there really is no predicting what will get selected!


·      What, to you, makes an award winning image?


An image where you feel the photographer has managed to show you something, someone or somewhere in a way that is different to the vast majority of that type of imagery and which has their own stylistic stamp on it. An image that you want to spend time looking at because you can appreciate both the idea and creative flair that has gone in to it.

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