Alex Grace: Bronze Winner
London Photographic Association Awards
Let's Face It 7. Bronze Series Winner
won bronze in the series category
. "I am naturally interested in sub-cultures within society," she says, "and have previously created handmade books focused on backpackers and festival goers at Glastonbury.
"For this winning series, I became interested in the way people style themselves according to their sexuality and gender and how - through that - they fit in with a group. For example, Joey likes to go out wearing neck bandanas which is a signifier for how he likes to have sex. Some of the others are less obvious. I just asked everybody I shot to think about how they would like to present themselves, either as a couple or as individuals. I think the images are strong because they make the viewer look again. The gender in some of the shots is ambiguous and it provokes a second look, extra interest and more consideration."
Alex studied Photography at the University of Derby and then worked in a still life studio in Manchester. "It was great experience in terms of learning how to light correctly," she says. "Still life studio photography tends to be more technical and I think it is an important skill to have." After moving to London, Alex worked with Rankin as his first Photographic and Production Assistant for two years, before working in Los Angeles for a year and then moving back to London in 2007 to set up on her own. She is drawn to portraiture because she loves getting to know what makes people tick.
Alex recognises that the industry is going through some significant changes. "Things are tough but I feel and hope they are starting to pick up again," she says. "Budgets have been cut and commissioners, art buyers and picture editors are overworked. The availability of digital photography has produced a surplus of photographers with many amateurs willing to give images away for free. So the industry has and is changing and I sometimes feel photography has been devalued somewhat. It will be interesting to see where things go in the future."
Alex has just finished shooting dogs at Crufts. "It was great fun and had me laughing all day long," she says. "I shot a Sheba advertising campaign a while back which was fascinating because it was like a celebrity shoot - but with a cat. The cat had its own Green Room, and we had to have a closed and silent set!
"I was recently sent to photograph Sir Ian McKellen visiting schools for anti-bullying week. I got to listen to him speak to the children about bullying and homophobia in schools, and it was very moving. I felt the same when shooting celebrities for Oxfam and International Women's Day this year. The women involved (Annie Lennox, Miranda Richardson, Mariella Frostrup, VV Brown and Beverley Knight) are really passionate about the cause. I like being involved in work that helps people and raises awareness of issues around the world."