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"Being a fine art photographer is not an easy path" says Hasselblad Heroine

Aline Smithson
(Image credit: Aline Smithson)

Since the series launched in 2019, Hasselblad Heroines has been highlighting the work of talented female photographers all over the world. Each year a number of women are selected to be included in the series for their work in genres including portrait, landscape, product, documentary wildlife, nature, architectural or even food photography.

The series is announced annually by Hasselblad, which produces some of the best medium format cameras used by professionals, to tie in with International Women's Day, on 08 March, and Women's History Month, which runs all month long. Among the winners was Aline Smithson, a film photographer and founder of the daily photographer journal, Lenscratch.

Following on from the 2022 series announcement, we wanted to find out a little but more about this year's Hasselblad Heroines, so we reached out to Smithson.

(Image credit: Aline Smithson)

How old were you when you first took up photography?

I began photographing in college, but then shifted to painting. After having children, I took on the role of family documentarian, took a photography class and never looked back. Though I was in my thirties when I started, I appreciated that I had lived other lives and had a lot to bring to my work.

Who or what inspired you to do so?

I came to my own work after a career as a New York city fashion editor, working with many of the greats in fashion photography. My uncle was an editorial photographer and my father was a hobbyist photographer with a darkroom in the basement. After starting my journey as a fine art photographer, I realized that I have been surrounded by photography my entire life. So all of those inspirations gave me the motivation to keep going.

Do you have a favorite photo or project you've worked on?

My series, Arrangement in Green and Black, Portrait of the Photographer’s Mother, was a deeply personal, transformational experience. I had so much fun propping and styling the photographs (all shot with a Hasselblad), and the time with my mother was profound, as she passed away shortly after I was finished shooting. After printing the images as silver gelatin prints, I hand-painted them. And each time I sell one, I get to spend time with her again, as I repaint the photograph. It was also the series that put me on the map.

(Image credit: Aline Smithson)

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

To be fearless and to follow my instincts.

What does it mean to you on being chosen as a Hasselblad Heroine?

Receiving this honor is incredible validation as an artist, but more importantly, as a woman in the arts. So much recognition in the arts has been extended to men and Hasselblad’s endorsement and support feel powerful. There is nothing more important than feeling seen and this meaningful acknowledgment means a lot to me.

What has been your biggest obstacle in getting to where you are?

Being a fine art photographer is not an easy path. You have to create work conjured from your own imagination and/or life and hope it resonates with the world. There is no one who guides you, no agent to take care of business. So much of the journey is figuring out how to get work out, learning all the tools beyond the taking of the photograph – Photoshop, printing, shipping, navigating contracts, considering installations, and so on. If I had to boil it down to one thing, it would be the marketing of photographs, when honestly, all I want to be doing is making work and not spending hours on pushing the work.

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Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specialises in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylised product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.