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Interview: Photographer Marcus Mantino (UK)

Can you tell us a little about you?

I’m half English and half Maltese photographer living in England, 42 years of age, an entrepreneur and photographer for the past 22 years since leaving University.

How and when did you get into photography?

Starting my professional career as a Flash web designer I launched my first company at 22 years of age, I started photography professionally 8 years on at the age of 28 and was full time for 5 years, mainly doing simple portrait work, I ran a small modelling agency and a professional studio for hire. At this time I also ran a digital media company working with global brands such as Ford and Microsoft, with the recession I started another company which grew to a size that then gave me the opportunity to take my photography in a new direction by removing the need to earn my basic living from working as a photographer.

What does photography mean to you?

Photography has always been a passion since I was a small boy playing with old film cameras, but in my late 20’s I decided to specialize in portrait photography, my love of technology and gadgets combined with my deep appreciation for the female form and beauty has fueled this passion over the years.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

My recent style is intentionally designed to not follow any particular style, especially not one that fits into any commercial box, I’m not trying to shoot fashion, or glamour, or artistic nude, etc, I just want to create art and if the end result of a particular shoot happens to fit one of those categories then that’s fine, but not the intention. I have found that this approach has allowed my work to elevate massively from before when I was trying to fit certain moulds.

Where do you get inspiration from?

One of my biggest inspirations currently is my love of movies, I realized that I had been preparing for this my whole life having watched so many movies for pleasure but all that creativity is embedded in my brain, tapping into this for a creative photoshoot has been immensely fun and resulted in some of my best work I think. My recent Post-Apocalyptic themed shoots where created on the fly without trying to copy or imitate any particular film or existing image, just tapping into this feeling and memories from a life of movie watching.

Do you think in advance what you want in the picture ?

Yes to a certain degree, I have ideas that come to me or I just see something random and I think I could do something with that, I then start putting the pieces together, buying pros, outfits and looking for a model that I think could work for the concept. I don’t fully design the concept, rather put the ingredients in place and then on the day its cooking time, working with the different ingredients to put together the dish on the day! I find that if everything is planned too perfectly if the model doesn’t quite work then the shoot will fail, so I keep things fairly flexible and piece everything together on the day.

Studio, on location or both?

I work in the studio only. I have shot outdoors and on location before and would like to do more of it, but my shoots are fairly complex in studio where I regularly shoot with up to 7 flash heads, large soft boxes, 3 x smoke machines, haze and fog machines, that’s a lot of kit to drag around. I also find the studio more challenging to create something interesting, location I think does a lot of the work for you by instantly creating your backdrop drama, in the studio you start with a blank sheet of paper.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

This is not a straight answer! But I consider myself as neither right now, I am currently shooting primarily to create art, not commercial commissions, and I am doing this intentionally to allow my work to grow at an accelerated rate, without my time or creativity being potentially held back, at some point and when the time is right I hope to capitalise on this and accept a higher standard of commissioned work.

What has been your most memorable session and why?

A recent shoot with a fire performer in my studio, we combined water, smoke effects and fire inside my studio creating various challenges, but ultimately very exciting with some great results.

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

Canon but I’ve never tried Nikon, have just always used canon since the 10D, now using the 5D Mark IV. For the past 12 years I primarily shot portrait with a fairly cheap 28-135 Canon lens and loved it, very light and versatile but more recently I have been primarily shooting with a Canon 50mm 1.4

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

Learn the art of saying “No”… having the ability to turn down work and say No is the most powerful thing you can do in any business, saying yes to every piece of work or opportunity that comes along lets other people dictate the course of your business, being selective and choosing what you do, especially in the beginning when you might think you have to say yes to everything, will ultimately lead to a better business in the long run.

What do you think of our new magazine?

Great opportunity for models and togs to find each other and receive exposure, would love to see the articles be more tailored to each creative and would love to see hardware reviews and even advertising for kit, in most cases we hate adverts but with photography there is nothing better than discovering new gear that could help with our work.

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