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Interview with Art Director – Alicia Hall

Alicia Hall is an Art Director at Venture Studios. Her role includes creating and running photographic training for the UK and international studios. She also supports and trains new starters in the business to work at the company standard and develop their photographic skill base.

We managed to catch up with Alicia to find out a bit more about her as a person and the background to her career in photography. So let us introduce her to you!

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What made you decide to become a photographer?
The main reason I became a photographer is because I've been obsessed with photography from a very young age. I just love being involved in capturing happy memories; enabling people both to enjoy the moment and then have something to look back on in the future.

Even at primary school my mum bought me a 35mm camera from Super Snaps and I was the only kid in my class that snapped away on film. I simply loved it… but it cost my mum a fortune in processing fees!

So that’s where it started. I loved taking pictures and I took the camera everywhere. I then went on to study Photography at University and gained a BA Hons in Photography. I still have that same passion for capturing the moment and knowing that it will enable people to savour the happy memories forever.

Are there other creative people who have particularly inspired you along the way? How does your photographic style reflect their influence?
I adore the 1950's and the feel in that era of images of being 'proper'. Children dressed in their Sunday best and ladies looking elegant and graceful.

I admire the work of Elliott Erwitt for his great use of humour in images and a feel of sentiment, then I love Anne Geddes for pioneering beautiful cute images of newborn babies, that I had never seen before I saw her work - she has influenced me a lot. Her work has made me look at capturing scale in my images, which with newborns is perfect to capture just how tiny they are for that time in their lives.

What kind of photography do you most enjoy doing? Why?
My favourite type of photography is children and newborn photography. These are my upmost favourite things to do! Children are so spontaneous and have little self awareness which is great in front the camera as you can capture their innocence and their little personalities.

Newborns are amazing to shoot too, they do the most beautiful little poses whilst they sleep which simply reinforce just how tiny they are. I love it when you get the occasional smile whilst they are sleeping and watching the parents stare at them in awe, thinking that they made such a perfectly tiny person.

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If you had the opportunity to do a photoshoot of any person - living or dead - who would it be and why?
Anyone? I think that would have to be Prince George and Princess Charlotte, they are so beautiful and are always so exquisitely dressed. They encapsulate my love of “proper” in the way they dress and George looks like he would be super cheeky to capture in the studio.

Can you tell us about one or two of your most memorable moments whilst taking photographs?
Just one or two?! There’s loads after working as a Venture photographer for over 10 years! But one of my most memorable moments has to be a little baby called Henry that I photographed at Venture Rochdale.

He came in and he was just beautiful, full of smiles and bashful little facial expressions. He was one of the most expressive babies I have ever photographed. He had almost grown up expressions as well as completely cute ones! The memorable bit came when I started doing some close ups of him and he started flaring his lip up on one side; I was in absolute stitches. I asked his parents if he did this a lot, and apparently it was because he was teething - he was rubbing his gums. To me though he looked like he was impersonating Elvis and will forever be known to me as the Elvis baby!!

I feel so lucky and humbled that I have been involved in capturing special memories for hundreds of families across the UK and internationally. To know that my work is displayed and loved in people's’ homes brings me a great sense of achievement. It’s nice to think I help people smile!

the Elvis Baby!

In your view what makes Venture unique from other photography studios?
Venture is unique to me as we thrive on getting to know our clients and capturing their uniqueness in the studio.

I know from experience a lot of other photographers just run through set ups of shots that are similar for each family photo shoot that they do. But Venture as a brand focus on what makes a family tick, is it their love of cooking, chilling in onesies or running around outside in wellies... we focus on finding out what’s most important to them no matter how small it is. It then becomes super special in the studio.

Tell us more about the photography training workshops you run for Venture. What skills do you think a person needs to become a really good photographer?
Passion! I’ve seen lots of photographers who can pick up any camera and understand the ins and outs of it in seconds, but without passion it’s insignificant.

Passion for photographing people is a must, a love of getting to know people, almost like a detective: to find those little details that make that family who they are is key. The passion and thrive to be creative and seek out new and exciting ways to approach clients is electric to me. When training I can see the spark in people eyes miles away!

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How do you feel about the increasing trend for people to store photographs digitally rather than in printed form?
I worry, I really do. I come from an era of having photo albums dedicated to a year in my family’s life, and packets of 35 mm prints ... that I still love to get out and go through.

Nowadays everything is stored on hard drives and computers with no guarantee that they will still be there in 10 years time. For all we know the format of photographs may change as technology advances and I worry that in years to come we might not be able to open some of the images we have now as technology moves on.

Pictures show a child and a family’s heritage, they show how things have changed and where you come from. Without these images being displayed the next generation will struggle to have that understanding of their history. Sad times.

Talking of history, how would you most like your work to be remembered in 100 years time?
I’d love my work to be remembered as a true treasure to people, something they hold dear to them and love to look at daily to make them smile. If I can contribute to someone’s day being a tiny bit more happy because of a glance towards one of my images, that is enough for me to feel complete.

And finally, what are the photographs that you personally treasure the most?
The pictures that I will treasure the most are ones of the people I hold closest to me: my husband and I in our wedding pictures in New York, my Venture session with my dog Dexter and my brother who passed away 10 years ago.

I have pictures throughout my house, they are everywhere. I love being surrounded by memories of happy times. Whenever I’m having a bad day I glance at one of them and I instantly get a smile on my face. That’s priceless.

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