‘Creatives genuinely want to help each other’ says photographer shortlisted for British award

Alice Forde moved from London to Cardiff to enter the creative industry. Now shortlisted for a British Photography Award, she’s on the right path

Young female photographer holds camera infant of bookshelf as she joins the creative industry in Cardiff.
Forde has fun with film photography, snapping photographs of her friends and holiday destinations. (Photo credit: Eve Davies)

There is an assumption that creatives must move to ‘the big smoke’, aka London, to build a successful career. But Alice Forde moved the other way. After growing up in Surrey, Forde was drawn to Cardiff’s creative scene and came to study BA Photography at University of South Wales. Now shortlisted for a British photography award, she is on a promising path.

From working in a tearoom on a children’s farm to volunteering at fashion shows and shooting the official merchandise for TAFWYL festival, an annual Welsh-language festival that takes place in Cardiff, the 21-year-old photographer has put the work in. Her day job is at Express Imaging, where she works with analogue photography, which involves a roll of film being loaded into the camera. 

“Film photography is something that I view as my more fun kind of photography,” she said passionately. “I’ll take film on holiday and out with friends. So, I enjoy learning more about that.” 

Forde’s love of photography stems from photographing people and not wanting to forget special memories. She said: “I want to capture my life and the people around me.”

Listen to Forde speaking about her work:
Making photography a question 

Forde’s most recent project, Touch Me, got her shortlisted in the fashion category of the British Photography Awards and is currently displayed in Ffotogallery’s Ffocws exhibition on Fanny Street, Cathays. The shift in people’s feelings about touch during the pandemic inspired this project. Explaining the thought process behind her work, Forde said: “I like to push the boundaries and make people think of my images as a question, not a statement.” 

She encourages her viewers to be active and continually shift their viewpoints. She explains: “I want people to second guess what they’re looking at. And I hope my work resonates with one individual differently to another. I want to make my audience feel slightly uncomfortable.”   

Forde’s favourite thing about photography is the freedom it offers her. “One of the things I love the most is the complete freedom. An idea starts off entirely in my head and I can transform it into something physical, and it changes drastically from my first thought. It’s never done, and I enjoy that process.”   

Portrait of young female photographer Alice Forde. Creative Cardiff.
Forde praises the close-knit creative community in Cardiff. (Image credit: Eve Davies)
Cardiff’s creative community

Many people assume that creative individuals must move to larger cities, especially London, for success. Moving the other way, Forde says the close-knit creative community in Cardiff is one of the mains reasons she loves what she does. She says there’s “so much opportunity” within a smaller pool in the Welsh capital, where creative pursuits are boosting the economy, according to the Welsh Government. 

You meet such a variety of people who are willing to let you pick their brains or model for you” 

“Creatives genuinely want to help each other,” Forde smiles. “So many conversations start, and you meet such a variety of people who are willing to let you pick their brains or model for you.” 

That said, Forde admits she sometimes feels imposter syndrome and questions whether her work is “up to standard.” But that isn’t holding her back from her dream of working as an editorial photographer at a fashion magazine.  

Forde shares her top tips for anyone looking to break into the creative industry: