CR Photo Annual judge Kaia Charles on what makes a great image

Kaia Charles, Cultural Projects Manager at Greenwich Peninsula and NOW Gallery curator, talks about her favourite recent images, and the photographers and brands she thinks are making outstanding work right now

Human Stories: The Body Issue, 2017. Image: Alma Haser

The entry deadline 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. First up is Kaia Charles, Cultural Projects Manager at Greenwich Peninsula in London and Curator at its on-site exhibition space NOW Gallery.

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 Kaia Charles, this year’s judges are Josie Gealer, Senior Art Director at Getty Images; Stephen Ledger-Lomas, Head of Production & Partner at BBH London; Jaki Jo Hannan, Integrated Producer at adam&eveDDB and Founder of Equal Lens; 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. Keep an eye out for more interviews with this year’s judges, and read on to find out what images, photographers and brands have stood out to Charles lately.

Human Stories: Circa No Future, 2019. Image: Nadia Huggins

Creative Review: Has any particular image or series stood out to you recently?
Kaia Charles: I’m working on the fourth iteration of the photographic series Human Stories which I curate for NOW Gallery. I’m featuring a body of work by Caribbean photographer Nadia Huggins. The work is for the most part shot underwater and documents the youthful camaraderie of adolescent males cliff diving off Indian Bay on the island of St. Vincent and Grenadines. Huggins creates surreal imagery, exploring boundaries of land and sea. She masters the manipulation of light, creating a contrast between submergence and irradiated surfaces.

CR: Which photographers do you think are doing great work at the moment?
KC: Imagery that combines a mixture of conceptual intervention and innovative technique is particularly exciting to me. I also like images which are subversive and tongue in cheek. Two photographers whose work I really love at the moment are Annie Collinge and Mous Lamrabat. Through their individual styles they unravel social constructs – gender codes, representation and identity, but the imagery keeps a thin veil of humour running through.

Human Stories: Intimate Spaces, 2016. Image: Cian Oba Smith

CR: What brands or companies are making good use of photography in your opinion?
KC: It’s exciting to see many young dynamic brands challenging perceptions around representation and diversity. Fashion houses like Mowalola have collaborating with photographers like Ruth Ossai to present a stylised imagery that speaks to the attitude and essence of the brand and cultural heritage. I also like the referencing or repurposing of archival imagery – for example Tiwa Savage’s recent nod to Eliot Elifoson’s iconic portraits of 70s Congolese school girls in her stylish video 49-99.

CR: What, to you, makes a great image?
KC: A great image confronts the viewer, evoking an emotive response or pause. An iconic image captures the spirit of a fleeting moment and will still be poignant and relevant to the future gaze.

Human Stories: Another England, 2018. Image: Sarah Maple

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