By Holly Morton
Brendan Donnelly, Creative Director at M&C Saatchi and judge for the Spotlight Awards Kids Photography Category, gives us an exclusive insight into what he’s looking for in this year’s awards. He discusses trends, subject matter and how photographers can benefit from participating in the contest.
Production Paradise: Could you give us some insight into your background and your journey to becoming a Creative Director at M&C Saatchi?
Brendan Donnelly: I think I’ve always been interested in design and creative pursuits, I remember as a kid I was constantly trying to create my own surf brand logos. I studied graphic design and worked 6 years in newspapers and publishing when the internet came along I taught myself web design which led to a job in advertising. For the past 19 years, I’ve worked at The Brand Agency, JWT, DDB, Leo Burnett and now M&C Saatchi.
Production Paradise: What made you want to be a judge on the panel?
Brendan Donnelly: I’m hoping that I see work that is compelling to me and hopefully that translates to the public, hopefully, my opinion counts. I look forward to seeing what’s entered, what appeals to the photographers and other judges.
Production Paradise: What is it about Kids photography that appeals to you?
Brendan Donnelly: Kids are an amazing subject matter, having two young boys of my own my Instagram is full of the adventures we get up to. There’s such honesty about kids, so much expression and natural entertainment. I love seeing a photo that takes you back to how you felt as a kid.
Production Paradise: What are some of the trends that you see in Kids imagery?
Brendan Donnelly: Authentic moments are the biggest trend. Probably because of the project I’m currently working on, I’ve seen lots where the photographer is a fly on the wall in the everyday moments of a home. Because our phones are our cameras kids are so used to having a camera in their face today making them comfortable and natural, not posed or too perfect as they were in the past. Diversity and humour are other trends as well as simplified colour palettes when there’s a more design-based shoot.
Production Paradise: What sort of images would you like to see in the competition?
Brendan Donnelly: I’d love to see some great storytelling within the image that takes your imagination into the moment. Interesting and considered compositions. Unique subject matters.
Production Paradise: What are you looking for in a photographer?
Brendan Donnelly: A great photographer always builds on my ideas, they bring a fresh perspective that I hadn’t thought of. Photographers that make people at ease on both sides of the camera.
Production Paradise: How important are online platforms for finding new talent? What platforms do you use to scout new photographers?
Brendan Donnelly: Online platforms like Production Paradise have really opened up the world to new talent, even if we can’t always use a photographer we’ve discovered on the other side of the world it’s great to get inspiration. I subscribe to a bunch of creative newsletters and magazines, photography, design, advertising – whenever a new photographer catches my attention I bookmark them and keep a folder of interesting images that might spark an idea in the future.
Production Paradise: In what ways do you think Production Paradise Spotlight Awards could benefit photographers?
Brendan Donnelly: To excuse the pun it’s all about exposure, awards ensure the best images are seen by the right people which will lead to more great work together.
We thank Brendan for taking his time to speak to us. Now that you know what kind of images have a better chance to catch the judge’s attention – pick your best kids shots and enter our Spotlight Awards!