For this month's interview, I had the pleasure of speaking with Mads Peter Iversen, a landscape photographer from Denmark.
Mads has been working as a full-time landscape photographer since 2016, but he also has a master's degree in educational philosophy. In addition to taking breathtaking photographs of epic landscapes around the world, he educates photographers through workshops, online classes, and YouTube videos.
In this interview, he talks about the process behind finding inspiring landscapes, tips on building a social media following, lighting advice, and more.
Mads has over 1 million followers on Instagram, over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube, and many years of photography experience, so this is an interview you don't want to miss!
As you mention on your website, your interest in photography exploded in 2011. What helped you realise that you had a passion for taking photos?
Mads Peter Iversen: I've always enjoyed being creative. Getting into photography (digital photography) came through videography. As I acquired a DSLR that was capable of filming in 60 frames a second - so that I could film slow-motion - it was obvious to also investigate what that "RAW" photo setting was all about. With some old videos on YouTube and Canon's native RAW editing software, a world of magic and photography opened up.
Editing plays an important role in your work. As you state on your website, the camera "can't capture reality as it appears in front of us." Are there any new editing tools or techniques you've been using that have helped you enhance your images?
Mads Peter Iversen: Not so much over the past years, but with newer cameras, bigger dynamic range and better noise-reduction software, I have simplified my workflow so that I no longer need to use five different exposures and blend them with luminosity masks. Now, I need a maximum of two. This makes the editing process much simpler and faster.
Is there a type of lighting that photographers should avoid to take aesthetically pleasing landscape photos?
Mads Peter Iversen: It's always relative to whatever your goal is with your photography, so the short answer is no. However, generally in landscape photography: side-light and back-light (when the sun is close to the horizon) usually works well with most scenes.
A lot of people struggle with telling stories through landscapes. How do you connect with your subjects and create emotional images?
Mads Peter Iversen: Storytelling in landscape photography and whether it is even possible is an ongoing debate. There is not much story in a photo of a waterfall, but the question is, do we even need that?
Landscape photography is often more about emotion. "What does a specific photo make you feel?" The story you get through a photo of a beautiful fog inversion in a valley taken from a mountaintop is just that, it's a story in one sentence. But the question is, what does it make the viewer feel?
You've created over 380 videos for your YouTube channel. As an educator with a lot of experience, what advice would you give to landscape photographers who want to improve their photographs?
Mads Peter Iversen: Combine theory with practice. Learn composition and what editing can do to your photos and then get out as much as possible.
You can also go online and start saving landscape photos that you like to your hard-drive. Once you have over 50, analyse them and figure out why you enjoy them and what they have in common. Then, seek out those kinds of photos.
Your photographs often reflect your personal emotions. How do you pick your subjects in the first place? Is it spontaneous or planned?
Mads Peter Iversen: I generally always have an idea of what I want to photograph and seek that subject out. A specific tree, mountain, waterfall, etc.
From there, I get the photo I want, but then I also try to put my own spin on it and maybe wait for favorable conditions. Alternatively, I go to an area that I find to have great potential for landscape photos, during interesting conditions, and then just see what happens.
You became a full-time photographer in 2016. What was the biggest obstacle that you've had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
Mads Peter Iversen: Making a living is always the hardest part. I started supplementing my income with portrait photography, event photography, and event videography. Slowly, as my audience grew and a demand for a landscape photographer to run workshops happened, I jumped on that opportunity. From there, I have developed my own products and services.
How did you find "flow" on social media? What tips would you give to full-time photographers who want to connect with their audience and build their following?
Mads Peter Iversen: Be authentic, but ALSO be engaging. No one watches a person who acts like an excuse for him or herself. Show people that you know what you are talking about without talking down to them and don't be afraid to admit mistakes. It's also very important that you actually show you're passionate about what you are doing and over time you'll hopefully accumulate a bigger audience.
You've taken a wide variety of photographs in Denmark, your home country. What advice would you give to readers who may not be able to travel regularly but still want to take outstanding photos in their country?
Mads Peter Iversen: Explore, explore, explore! I know it takes time and feels inefficient to begin with, but once you have a good idea about how your country or local region looks like, it's basically just a question about waiting for interesting weather or the optimal season.
What has been inspiring you the most these days?
Mads Peter Iversen: Photographing my home country. ;)
What kind of photography challenge would you like to take on in the new year?
Mads Peter Iversen: I do want to do more atmospheric and minimal "artsy" photography.
Please give the readers an idea or prompt to inspire them during their next photoshoot.
Mads Peter Iversen: GET OUT!