Mads Monsen [madsmonsen]
Do you have an online gallery where one can view your photos?
Yes. Our main website is http://www.madsmonsen.com and we have a Flickr stream for mostly editorial work at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thuvamads
Our blog is at: http://blog.madsmonsen.com
For how long have you done photography? How did you begin?
I have been photographing for quite some time. Professionally from the early 1990's. It all started as a hobby that grew into a passion and then a livelihood.
What has been your education as a photographer?
I secured an apprenticeship with a commercial photography studio and learned on the job. Later I graduated with a BA(hons) Graphic Design degree from Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design.
First and foremost, being curious and explore. Never stop.
Please list any exhibitions in which you have participated.
I participated in a group exhibition in Norway for all the apprentices, we were 12+ that year. No recent exhibitions.
Please list any awards for your work.
During my years at college I managed to get a Merit in the Metro award.
What is your favourite type of photography?
I do enjoy quite a few aspects of photography. It is never just only one. I move between assignments and disciplines. I need that flexibility to prevent getting bored. Once you get bored you lose your edge.
Personal projects are always a big favourite.
What do you try to express through your photography?
For personal projects it is more about the way I see the world and what triggers me to capture what I see. Commercial work is always about what I believe the client needs and expects.
How do you choose your subjects?
For personal work is purely exploration. For commercial work we are given briefs to follow. We also receive emails from people looking for collaboration and if the timing is right we do it.
What type of preparation do you do before undertaking the photo session?
Depending on assignments we will prepare accordingly. In general, ensure all batteries are charged, CF cards ready, equipment packed and all props and other requirements in place.
It is a physical process of checking and verifying that everything is in order. Mentally running through different scenarios and light setups depending on how much prior information I have available for the location/assignment.
Do you normally photograph with a purpose already in mind, or do you let yourself go with the flow?
I will start with an idea and purpose and always improvise as we go along. Sometimes the idea we had to start with is not as good as the idea that developed along and was among the last frames of the shoot.
Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sigma, Olympus, Sony, Pentax...which do you place your bets on and why?
The best system is the one that works for you. For me, I have always been a Nikon shooter. I used to have two Leica M4's when shooting film when starting out. For commercial work we have invested in Hasselblad in order to provide the quality that agencies demand.
Describe your current equipment: cameras, lenses, computers, accessories...
We use Macintosh work stations, Nikon and Hasselblad cameras with a variety of lenses, Elinchrom lights with various light modifiers. Always got a long wish list of extra gear that we would like to have, however, always make the most out of what you got. Never stop because you wish to have that special lens or piece of equipment to do that shot. Always find a way to use what you got to get what you want.
What software and plug-ins do you use to retouch and manage your photos?
Images are captured in RAW, processed either in Aperture or Phocus and then retouched in Photoshop by a dedicated retoucher.
What measures do you take to protect your work against Internet piracy?
Once it is online, you cannot stop people from copying your work. I do keep my image files low in resolution so a physical print will be very small in size. Still that doesn't stop people from copying.
I do regular searches via online image tools to see if any of my more popular images are used without permission.
Are you a good salesperson of your work? In what should you improve?
I am not the best salesperson. I do believe that good work will sell and it does. Most of my business comes from word of mouth and we always strive to deliver our best each time. A photographer is only as good as the last image captured. That I was told early as an apprentice and I have been living by it ever since. Always do your best in any given situation.
Which past masters of photography do you most admire?
Richard Avedon and Irving Penn
Are technology and digital retouching reducing the gap between professionals and amateurs?
Technology has made photography more accessible and more popular. However, there will always be a gap between a professional and a passionate amateur. They can be equally skilled and deliver the same quality, the difference being a professional has to go out and do it for a living and will have to deliver on time.
Once it becomes a business, time is an asset. Suddenly, you will not be able to spend weeks on retouching an image, you will have much less time or you need extra hands. Extra hands means more expenses.
You also need to be available when the client wants you to and you are expected to come back with the images each and every time.
Being a professional photographer means that you will have to fulfill expectations in a timely manner. It is a business as any business. That's the gap.
As for creativity or skills, there are no gaps.
What is your team of habitual collaborators like?
We have a fulltime assistant and retoucher. For projects we collaborate with models, stylists, make-up artists, hair stylists, food stylists et cetera.
We organise talent calls, wardrobe casting, location casting and other needs the client may have.
We have built up a network of freelancers that help with the various aspects that we will need according to the production.
We are basically a problem solver for the client.
With which other photographers do you normally team up with or do sessions with?
There's been a long time since I have done any collaboration with other photographers.
Do you consider yourself more technical or more artistic?
A bit of both. You have to. Photography is part technical and part creative.
What have you learned about the art of framing and composition?
You learn the rules and then you break them when you think it is necessary.
How does one develop the instinct of knowing when to press the shutter release button?
I once read "Once you see it, it is too late." Always try to anticipate the moments. I takes practice and gut feeling.
When should one use film, and when should one use digital?
You choose your medium according to what you intend to capture, it is a personal decision.
Does photography have the recognition that it should have in contemporary art museums?
There is always room for improvement.
Which websites for photographers do you frequently visit?
Nikon rumours and photography blog.
Is there any particular technique that you could share?
Be curious and use google. It has never been easier to find knowledge and discover new techniques.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam