CR Photo Annual judge Jaki Jo Hannan on what makes a great image

Jaki Jo Hannan, Integrated Producer at adam&eveDDB and founder of Equal Lens, talks about her favourite recent images, and the photographers and brands she thinks are making outstanding work right now

From Spa Days by Aleksandra Kingo

The final entry deadline (yes, we really mean it this time!) to the Creative Review Photography Annual 2019 is coming up this Friday, and to help inspire you, we’ve asked our judges about what they think makes a great image. Last up is Jaki Jo Hannan, Integrated Producer at adam&eveDDB and Founder of Equal Lens.

The CR Photography Annual is renowned for showcasing the year’s greatest work in imagemaking, and the 2019 edition is no different. This year we’ve also introduced a new category, focusing on work by students or recent photography grads. Alongside Jaki Jo Hannan, this year’s judges are Kaia Charles, NOW Gallery Curator and Cultural Projects Manager at Greenwich Peninsula, Josie Gealer, Senior Art Director at Getty Images, Stephen Ledger-Lomas, Head of Production & Partner at BBH London, and Eliza Williams, CR’s Editor.

Taking their pick from personal, professional, commercial photography and more, our judges will carefully select the most evocative, engaging and exciting work from photographers the world over. Read on to find out what images, photographers and brands have stood out to Hannan lately.

Creative Review: Has any particular image or series stood out to you recently?
Jaki Jo Hannan: I’m obsessed with British fashion photographer Tim Walker so was delighted to see his new exhibition Tim Walker: Wonderful Things that’s just started at the V&A. The exhibition takes inspiration from some of the V&A’s collections which highlights some of the stunning artistic treasures within the V&A that we might have previously walked past. I love his fantastical storytelling, use of strong colour and decadent costumes. He creates immersive sets, with set designer Shona Heath keeping his photography current and iconic.

Agyness Deyn in J.W. Anderson hat. London, 2014

CR: Which photographers do you think are doing great work at the moment?
JJH: I love Sophie Mayanne’s work. I find it authentic, beautiful and loving. I can see from her work that she builds such trust with the people she photographs. Her work is caring and allows people to tell their stories. Her series called Behind The Scars is a body of work started in 2017 that “celebrates scars of all shapes and sizes, and the incredible stories behind them.” She said that “each photo is an act of self-love, acceptance, defiance and positivity”.

Aleksandra Kingo’s photography is playful, bold, quirky and witty with deeper meanings. She describes her work as “taking my own reality and bringing it to the point of absurd”. Her work is influenced by internet culture and memes, in particular her project Spa Days depicts the questionable social media beauty trends and the pressure on women in society today. She takes these trends and turns them on their head by creating an extreme version, as a way of drawing attention to their absurdity and create awareness of the harm they do. She breaks people’s unconscious bias of what women photograph by using her fashion editorial to make comments on climate change, our government, Brexit and so on, as seen in her Under The Weather editorial for Hunger Magazine.

I also love Tanya Houghton‘s work. It’s artistic, authentic and brings light to important topics in a stunning raw way, particularly the tension between man and nature. She focuses on themes other photographers may shy away from. For example, her project A Migrant’s Tale is a collection of “narrative explorations of home and nostalgia, told through the language of food. The body of work represents a collaborative reworking process of the migrant’s tale, which explores the relationship of the narrator and the interpreter, and the use of photography in creating a visual retelling of the migrants story. All tales are visually translated with consideration and transcribed from the migrant’s own words.”

CR: What brands or companies are making good use of photography in your opinion?
JJH: I love when campaigns have depth and a commissioner has picked a photographer that is not just shooting the campaign but also has a connection to the idea – whether it’s an emotional connection, stylistic connection to the brief, or they’ve done a similar personal project. Projects can be like onions with so many layers, and as commissioners, we have the choice to give a campaign more depth.

Mothercare’s latest ad campaign Body Proud Mums photographed by Sophie Mayanne encourages mothers to be proud of their post-baby body. The campaign features 10 mums and their babies, showing their scars, stretch marks and other changes that come with motherhood. I think Sophie was the perfect photographer to have been commissioned to do this work as it echoes the ethos, trust and passions shown in her personal project mentioned above. I first saw the campaign on the London Underground and thought it had such an emotional impact. It stopped me in my tracks – I found the imagery incredibly inspiring, strong, powerful and beautiful. I love seeing campaigns (like this) that use advertising for social change, encouraging safe vulnerability and empowering women.

CR: What, to you, makes a great image?
JJH: When I commission photographers, I look for consistency within the look of their portfolios. I like to see that someone has a strong look and feel that defines them as an individual photographer, so that when I commission them, I know what style or look I’m getting. I look at colour grade, retouching, set design, diverse inclusion within casting, narrative and how they keep that constantly throughout all their work, no matter the subject matter or brand. I don’t mind if someone does not show previous commissioned work, as quite often what I commission on is their personal projects and editorial work, as this gives me a true sense of the photographer’s passions.

The idea of giving someone their first advertising commission is exciting to me, as I see this as a PR opportunity for a brand to use someone first. Some see this as a minus, because they might think the photographer does not have enough experience to work with such a big brand. I would disagree, as I find people go above and beyond when given opportunities. I would say: keep doing you. Don’t do what you think you should do to get a commission – do what’s authentically you and the commissions will come.

Entry for CR Photography Annual 2019 has been extended to Friday October 11. Click here for more information, including further details on how to enter