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12 March 2020

Lee Smith Small

Curator of the Things Category in the 2020 AOP Student Awards Lee Smith discusses his work at Lucky Generals and what he hope to see from the Awards.

Tell us about your role at Lucky Generals and what lead you there.

Hi, i'm Creative Director over here at Lucky Generals and am mainly responsible for work on the Amazon global campaigns and the Yorkshire Tea account.


Can you tell us about the most exciting and perhaps challenging project you have worked on?

I guess from a photographic point of view, the campaign that was created for Cancer Research was certainly a challenge.

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The brief to us was to basically increase public donations to the charity.

The current campaign line was 'Let's beat cancer sooner'. 

Fair enough it worked ok, but it lacked the urgency to drive donations in the short term.


Our thinking was that, right now at this precise moment, people are being affected by cancer. 

Whether it's being diagnosed, going through weeks of chemotherapy, from being given the all clear to the important work 

that the researchers are doing.

So our launch strategy simply put was. 'Cancer is happening Right Now'

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To bring this to life creatively we wanted to show real people out in the real world.

We wanted to capture those real moments that would be impossible to cheat or recreate using actors and sets.

So we sent photographer Adam Hinton out into several cancer wards around the UK.

We worked closely with hospital staff to try and capture these incredibly personal and sometimes heartbreaking moments.

Whilst also giving them a real observational fly on the wall quality, without feeling too intrusive and insensitive.

It was incredibly hard shooting some of the people, knowing that some of them would not survive.


The campaign launch saw an increase of 45% in donations, so it was truly worth the efforts from all involved.


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Which photographers work do you admire?

I love the masters. Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Diane Arbus and less known photographers like Raymond Depardon. 

All real and gritty.

Right through to the other end of the spectrum and the fantastical stylings of Tim Walker and Nick Knight.

I guess you could say I have eclectic taste.

From a commercial perspective you not only dealing with the aesthetic, you obviously want to shoot something great, you're also dealing with answering a brief. 

A big part of that job is often problem solving to help get the idea across. 

One photographer who is ace at this is Nick Georghiou. He's a great thinker. Solve the problem first and then make the shot look great.



As curator of the Things category what will you looking for in the entries and what to you makes for an award winning image?

Things...Wow, that's pretty broad.

I guess it could be absolutely anything.

I should be stopped in my tracks, see something i've not seen before, whether it's from a new angle or perspective.

Something truly fresh and original.

An exciting challenge, but far from easy....good luck with that.


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