These 25 questions to Erik Luntang-Jensen, Jørn Stjerneklar, Nina Mouritzen, Jacob Langvad and Poul Madsen about what is it like, as a photographer, to set up shop somewhere in the world and live there, these interviews were originally made in the autumn of 2009, but just as I had put them on the server, the server crashed. It took a long time to clean up and I forgot all about the work until the other day – six years later – in which the articles appeared during a cleanup of a hard drive. So, without further ado…
Where is it you are?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: Brussels
Jørn Stjerneklar: I live in Hout Bay, just south of Cape Town, South Africa.
Nina Mouritzen: New York, New York.
Jacob Langvad: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Poul Madsen: I was an intern at the newspaper The Indian Express in Mumbai, India. It was a local edition of a national newspaper.
Why did you choose that place?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: A coincidence. The goal was actually somewhere in the Middle East. In my internship at Polfoto I drove around on Funen and parts of Jutland, where I among other things covered the debate meetings about the upcoming vote on the Maastricht Treaty. It was while I was studying Middle East studies at the University of Odense, in order to go there as a press photographer.
But as it was with me and sports, that have no personal interest, I’d throw the sports supplement out, but the same day I photographed the first first league game I started reading it every day, and finished reading about it when I had photographed my last game.
The same was the case with the articles about the EU, you can not cover the debates about the EU, without knowing what it is about and it struck me that the illustrations newspapers used most frequently were photos of EC buildings. It had to be a better way, I thought.
Colleagues thought it was a crazy idea, unlike the editors and writers. One word led to another and the decision was taken.
Jørn Stjerneklar: I’ve been around many countries, Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, the United States before I ended up down here.
Nina Mouritzen: I always wanted to stay here since I was a child. So it was natural to move here, the moment it could be done. The moment came a few months after my 19 birthday and a mediocre high school exam!
Jacob Langvad: One of my Brazilian friends and former fellow student was a partner in a company that stood to open a new design studio and he invited me over to become part of it.
Poul Madsen: I chose the place because there were some Danish journalism students who had had an internship at the newspaper. Furthermore, I perceived it as being one of the more serious newspapers in India – in other words, a newspaper where the main focus was not directed at recent Bollywood gossip.
How long have you been away?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: too long. Three times since I a few days after finishing as pressphotographer in 1992. I founded Nordfotos editorial office in Brussels and Berlingske Tidende and BT moved into the same building. Closed again in August 1999, leaving my Finnish colleague as the last Nordic press photographer. Moved to Denmark, but back to Brussels again the third time a few years later.
Jørn Stjerneklar: 20 years
Nina Mouritzen: 10 years. (Sept. 1999)
Jacob Langvad: I have lived in São Paulo for most of the last three years.
Poul Madsen: I was off for 6 months, but were not working very much for the newspaper. They did not have so many tasks for me, instead I used the time on my own projects and to make freelance work danish clients.
How long do you expect to be away for?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: Hard to say with two children who have French as their main language and a wife who gets claustrophobia in Denmark and for that matter in Finland, where she grew up as a German citizen.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Forever
Nina Mouritzen: As long as I love being here.
Jacob Langvad: I’m still in love with the city and the country. I’m in no hurry to move on. Over the coming years there will be very much traveling and I will help to start another new office up in New York. But my base remains in São Paulo.
Poul Madsen: I was expecting to be here the six months. I had suffered a photo crisis before I left, but I found myself again during my 6 months in India.
Tell us about the time before you left. Were you nervous? Had you made agreements on housing, jobs, clients?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: Nervous, no way. Got a colleague to drive me to Brussels immediately after we had finished our training. The car was sold and it was its last trip with me. Besides the two of us, it was filled up with a Jobo developing machines that had been Polfotos for the World Cup in Mexico, an old stationary telephoto transmitter which had been with Polfoto editorial office for decades and spat images to the provincial newspapers. While I was a student there, it was replaced with a Hasselblad. Then there were films, chemicals, my old enlarger, Nikon photographic equipment and then there was a little room left over for a small bag with some underwear, a toothbrush and no money.
I got office with two telephone lines provided by a British journalist with the message that I had to pay my phone expenses which is why I just called collect, and that I could pay full rent when I could afford it. It took six months before I could pay rent. In the same office, there were three other Danish freelance journalists.
One of the journalists and his Swedish wife let me stay for free in their basement room, where there was a wooden bed and a garden chair of plastic.
The only agreement I had with customers was that I was allowed to work for both Polfoto and Nordfoto and their respective customers. But the images couldn’t not be the same. It was a deal that also continued when I was a permanent employee at Nordfoto’s editorial office here in Brussels.
Jørn Stjerneklar: My (our’s is more accurate, my wife who is a journalist and I) stated from the beginning: It can only go wrong! We had a return ticket to Copenhagen with us in our pocket. And then we took it from there. We were not nervous, it was an adventure. How hard can it be? We had absolutely no agreements that could give us a guaranteed monetary basis. The first three years were taken in stages, ie six months and then back to DK for a while. And then off again. Until we in the beginning of 1992, deregistered from the population register and flew away with about 30,000 kroner in savings, no housing, no deal, but plenty of grit. Since then we have not looked back.
Nina Mouritzen: When you are 19 you are not nervous, and I certainly was not. There was of course absolutely no reason why it should not succeed, because it was what I wanted. Nope, no agreements on jobs …… Had an agreement to stay a few night at a peripheral friend the day I landed, but nothing otherwise.
Jacob Langvad: I was in Copenhagen. I was restless and full of wanderlust. I had found a small apartment in the city center, off craigslist, where I lived the first few months. The city’s old center is reasonable smashed and a little ‘rough’ – but it has its charms. My apartment was on the top floor with panoramic windows and views of the asphalt jungle. Very fascinating when you come from a small town like Copenhagen.
Poul Madsen: I was not nervous. Probably more excited! Because I had never been to India before and had heard all these terrible stories about how terrible a country is is, with dirt and poverty everywhere. I was pleased to get going and to get far away from the Danish local journalism that I had committed in my first year of internship in Funen. My girlfriend was also down there working as a doctor at a local NGO that took care of children in the slums, so it helped tremendously that my better half to part of the adventures. We sublet our apartment and packed a backpack, and then we were totally ready to try something new. It was a great time and I got a unique insight of India and Indian culture. I love the country so much and I will always come back. We rented an apartment in Mumbai from a former team of writers trainees from DJH. It was perfect.
Have you lived and worked elsewhere in the world?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: Stayed and worked a half years at a large farm in England after finishing primary school. Were first trained to be a farmer and then worked as a reporter on some agricultural newspapers before I had a year as a freelance photographer before I started training as a pressphotographer.
Jørn Stjerneklar: See above
Nina Mouritzen: Work yes. Lived no.
Jacob Langvad: I have lived in Treviso (Italy), London, Paris and New York.
Poul Madsen: I have not worked as a photographer based in other countries, but I myself grew up in Belgium and have also lived in the United States.
Why move abroad?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: I do not know. Perhaps because people are too narrow-minded at home. My grandfather moved from my native island Fyn for the same reason.
Jørn Stjerneklar: First of all curiosity. I have traveled since I was very young and know that there’s a big world out there. Denmark is fine, but not the only place here on earth, if I may say so diplomatically.
Nina Mouritzen: I think that is very individual. I could not imagine being in Denmark, combined with an ever-existing desire to stay in New York, so it felt like the most natural thing in the world to do.
Jacob Langvad: Thrill, restlessness, wanderlust.
Poul Madsen: You take off to test your self, to gain insight into a different culture and to evolve as a photographer. It was certainly some of my considerations before I left and they were met in full.
Does it live up to the dreams?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: It was not a dream. It was a project that should be tested. Virtually all the colleagues who I asked did not think there was any future in Brussels. The editors on the other hand, where very positive. The idea of the Middle East was dropped because I eventually talked to so many people about Brussels that there was only one thing to do and that was to do it. The fact that I have left the city twice and come to the three times is another matter.
Jørn Stjerneklar: After 20 years, it is not difficult to live your dreams.
Nina Mouritzen: Everyone’s dreams are different, but I feel mine every day.
Jacob Langvad: Definitely. Well, it depends on what dreams you have. No matter how exotic a place you go, there comes a time where ‘everyday’ occurs. There is a big difference between visiting an exciting city as a tourist over a short period, and then to stay there. I eventually had to admit that all sites have advantages and disadvantages. What is important is where you have good personal relationships, meaningful work or where you feel right.
Poul Madsen: 100% – ie internship was not particularly good, but I got some close friends there, people that I still have contact with and visit. In addition, it was an enormous challenge to be a photographer in a country where you are “on”. One should remember that although India is a huge country with well over a billion inhabitants, “white skin” is still something that attracts attention. Even in mega cities like Mumbai. I felt like a much richer person when I got home. My internship in India was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Tell us about your career. Which highlights have there been?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: Highlights?
Admission to Pressefotograf studies after PF in a year breathed me strongly in the neck while I did disorganized worked freelance for BT, Landsbladet and Det Fri Aktuelt.
When I was to audition at the School of Journalism in Odense, I actually had no time for it. There were several days when a bull was loose in a forest in Odense. So the two days test lasted, I hurried to Aarhus and solved tasks and drove as quickly as possible back to Odense
When I got the internship at Polfoto.
Winner of the Danish Press Photo Awards for the best politician photo.
Elected as a student representative on the PF Board.
Relief after two days nonstop on the phone to get a free line to my senior contact in Riga, to get an official invitation for my visa so I could get to the Baltic countries and Russia to cover the unrest.
That day in 1992 Kl. 6:00 in the morning when I stood in front of the door to my future editorial in Brussels after a whole night on the roads of Europe.
My breakthrough in Brussels came with coverage of the kidnapping of the Swedish rider Ulrika Bide where I was photographer for Expressen, Svenska Dagbladet and Verdens Gang.
Freelance for Reuters.
When I was convinced my old colleague from Odense, Christian Jørgensen, that he should not come to Brussels but move to Berlin, where he happily remains.
Employed at Nordfotos editorial in Odense in February 1994
Became the first tenured Danish press, and perhaps in all of Scandinavia, who was sent out as a correspondent. I opened the same year in October Nordfotos editorial office in Brussels. It was done in collaboration with NTB in Norway, FLT Pica in Sweden and Lehtikuva Oy in Finland.
As Ritt Bjerregaard and the other Commissioners left office because of scandals. My daughter was born that night. I slept in the hospital and very early in the morning I said goodbye to my wife and daughter and drove in to the editors office to lead the battle along with five freelance photographers I had hired for Nordfoto. The day we sent pictures all over Europe.
When I during a summit in Barcelona scolded the French President, Jacques Chirac, because his bodyguards where between him and my camera, it helped and I got my pictures. Some time later, he did the same in Jerusalem, where he threatened Israeli security officials to travel home if they did not give him a clear view and distance so he could see and well, really being seen himself.
The coverage of the World Cup in France in 1998.
The closure of Nordfotos editorial in Brussels in August 1999, when I went home and continued my work at Nordfotos editorial in Odense.
When I was sacked from Scanpix Nordfoto in 2002 and had to put my property for sale with a greater loss and commute to Brussels, as my wife had returned to to earn enough to provide for our children.
The establishment of the EUP Images in 2003 with the then two German and a Finnish colleague.
Establishment of the family business INSPIRIT International Communications in 2004.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Well then, it’s damn impossible to define highlights, just got the same question in another context. The experiences are different in different contexts. Was it when I met Mandela? No, but it was a highlight. Wars? Both yes and no. The genocide in Rwanda? It was a peak and trough at all levels. I enjoy meeting new people in the environment they live in. It can be a Somali refugee in Kenya, the poor in the slums of Nairobi, an exciting business woman who is very wealthy in Johannesburg. A trip up Kilimanjaro or hunting in Zanzibar. Riding an elephant in Zimbabwe or drinking real coffee in Ethiopia. Luckily, there are hundreds of highlights, that’s why we are here. Life is unusually short, so it is important to push it and learn every day!
Nina Mouritzen: It’s hard to summarize. I deal mostly with process, not with where it should end, so on the basis there is a lot of highlights.
Jacob Langvad: What I am doing now is a combination of all the things that interest me and that I’ve been involved with since I studied at the Danish School of Journalism. I have found a niche that makes sense and that concerns me. It is a combination of visual communication, market research and technology. I am involved in a major market research project about the growing middle class in Brazil, Russia, India and China. The project will run over a number of years and culminate in a series of products including visual reports, books, website, conference and more.
Poul Madsen: I have worked as a newspaper photographer in well over 3 years and I have never really cared about it. Therefore I started 4 years ago a multimedia production company that develops and deals with online storytelling. I do not see myself only as a photographer but more as a visual journalist. I am passionate about making my own independent stories and to follow them through. Besides my studies abroad my career highlight so far has been that I have managed to get my name recognised internationally as an innovative and dedicated multimedia photographer. I have had my stories in some of the most recognized foreign media, like the New York Times and on the whole it seems to me, that I found my niche in an industry that is said to be both in rapid development and maturity.
How would you describe your type of photography “in 25 words or less?”
Erik Luntang-Jensen: Maybe I misunderstand the question, but I have never thought of that. A picture editor at Polfoto, during my internship there, once said something like, that I, imagewise, was not the very best photojournalist, but that one could always count on that I came home with something. I have quite often wondered about that, and still do.
Jørn Stjerneklar: I’m not an artist. I use pictures to tell stories, they are not meant to be exhibited or printed in fine photo books.
Nina Mouritzen: Art & Commerce? …. You can call it whatever you want. I do not feel I fit in any particular box, and I only do projects I think are exciting. This sets me between a few different chairs, but I always hope that a new one will created for me.
Jacob Langvad: I do many portraits with a sober, sensing approach. We can call it the anthropological photograph. I am inspired by many different photographers, including Joel Sternfeld and Taryn Simon to name two.
Poul Madsen: My photograph is social, documentary, single, tightly composed and honest. I’m not hiding behind 400 different Photoshop filters.
How is the working process abroad relative to Denmark?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: As a freelance it is probably the same, perhaps?
As an employee, it was associated with a huge freedom when I was my own boss. I was the only one in the Berlingske photo crew who was allowed to work for “the enemy” at Rådhuspladsen (Politiken). It was also then, when you often could not tell the difference between Berlingske Tidende and Jyllands-Posten’s front pages. The daily planning we stood for. We had not only Nordic special assignments for newspapers and magazines, but performed tasks directly for media in Ireland, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland.
We traveled all over Europe and telephoned Copenhagen the day before to tell that they could expect to get pictures from Rome next afternoon and the day after it would be from Dublin we sent photos. Working as Nordfoto correspondent was a mixture of photography, picture editor and administrator.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Depending on where you are. Sitting in the middle of nowhere can be cumbersome. No power, poor satellite connection, but compared to when I started my career, many things are super easy today. Otherwise we work like they do in Denmark. With great humility towards people and their history.
Nina Mouritzen: I do not know. I work in my own way, which is probably very influenced by having lived a certain place for 10 years and feel reasonably unaffected by contemporary trends and methods and do things which I feel are most natural.
Jacob Langvad: It depends on which country and which customer you work for. In a city like New York, there is far greater tradition for photo productions and several suppliers of various services. To photograph people on the street is much easier in Brazil because people are not hysterical or paranoid about where the images will be used. In return, you have to be a little more vigilant if you have equipment in the field here, due to crime.
Poul Madsen: I know only what it is like to work in India and that is something different. The salary down there is quite low, the work is not particularly feted and the working hours horrible. One of my good friends who is the image manager at a national newspaper has just decided to step down and go freelance. Being a full-time photographer at an Indian newspaper means working weeks of 60 hours + / Additionally, many photographers have not very good equipment. When I comet to Mumbai in 2005, I had a cheap laptop PC with me … it was like none of the local photographers could afford!
What types of clients do you have?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: In the nineties it was 95% press. Now it’s probably half made press and half communication. There are international organizations, the press in Scandinavia, Ireland, London, Germany, Austria, Spain and more, however, most newspapers.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Well all kinds, apart from purely advertising, which I personally do not like to do, but have great respect for. TV, radio, magazines, daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, websites, calendars, you name it. As little news as possible.
Nina Mouritzen: People who like my image style.
Jacob Langvad: In São Paulo I am working on market research projects for Brazilian advertising agencies and international magazines.
Poul Madsen: I photograph primarily for magazines, journals and organizations at home and abroad. Furthermore, I teach international workshops, I edit and program multimedia for other photographers and finally I shoot videos and short documentaries.
How do you market yourself?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: By meeting the deadline and agreements to the letter. Otherwise, the word of mouth method.
Jørn Stjerneklar: By personal contact with potential customers.
Nina Mouritzen: How do you mean? I have a website. But no newsletter, blog, facebook profile or whatever else is going on on the web. I canvas for project I think sound interesting, but otherwise people call if they have seen something I’ve done.
Jacob Langvad: Typically through personal contacts or people who see my work in magazines or projects. I also have a website that provides jobs. I have traveled around a lot in recent years so I have all my customers pretty much all over the place – which is both good and bad.
Poul Madsen: I let the rumor about my abilities leak. It sounds stupid, but viral marketing works fine for me. I get inquiries from some of the biggest agencies and media in the world and it is very exciting although I still consider my company Bombay Flying Club to be in a start-up phase. I have a lot to learn but it is the right path for me – that’s for sure!
What is most important to break through where you are. Being a good photographer or a good businessman?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: I am a poor businessman. The second part, I will let others assess.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Both parts. As in Denmark.
Nina Mouritzen: It’s going to depend on what “break through” means. To get rich? Then you might ask the question to someone other than me.
Jacob Langvad: Talent, industriousness and good contacts.
Poul Madsen: Both. But I don’t think about money as such, I have no ambition to be rich. Of course I would like to run a healthy business while I have the time and opportunity to do projects and stories which I am passionate. Of course you need to make a lot of “bread and butter” on the sidelines, but that it is only good. I became a father in June and since then I have not had as much desire to travel to the world’s hotspots as reportage photographer. I leave that to others. There are so many “rock star photographers” in this business and they all fight. The times are not as they have been and it has become harder to make a name for himself in the industry. You get nothing for free. If you want something as a photographer, you have to fight for it yourself and that I really like. I am a fighter. The day I no longer think it’s inspiring and fun, I’ll find something else to do. I’m probably an entrepreneurial type. I could, for example not imagine being permanently employed at the same newspaper for 10 years.
Can you tell us a little about your work and how much you work?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: It’s a little hard. There may be a week in which nothing happens, then the next week is totally with photo assignments morning, noon, evening and night while the wife has a similar week and the children need to be transported to and from school, sports and other leisure activities. Last week the first assignment came in after a whole month without commissions.
It may be a little varied and sometimes also a little exciting if there will be money to pay the rent.
Jørn Stjerneklar: My work ranges widely. I have for many years been quardromedial, at least. When I work? The head is never static, as a freelancer, it is necessary to get good ideas all the time. People know not what they want, you have to tell them. I find it hard to define “work”. It flows together with my hobby – tell stories. But I try to take vacation for three months a year, on average.
Nina Mouritzen: I take “pictures” a couple of times a week, ie either assignments for magazines, or press photos or some of my own personal projects and I’m disciplined to reach my own, and naturally, magazines, deadlines. If work is to be inspired, thinking ideas and projects, doing research, I work all the time …….
Jacob Langvad: I have recently been a photographer at a major market research project for Nike about football culture in South America. Here I had to photograph the 30 case studies in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Buenos Aires. The result was a 200-page book with portraits, landscapes, stories and information design.
Other jobs could be portraits for magazines like Monocle and the Financial Times or the American and Italian magazines, like doing stories about Brazilian artists or business men.
Poul Madsen: I work with a great many different things so it is very versatile. I shoot kittens for Dyrenes Beskyttelse, program multimedia productions for some of the world’s best photographers and travel to shoot for NGOs and organizations. When there is enough to do, I love my job. I spend probably 40 to 45 hours a week as a freelancer. Much of the time is in front of the screen. I don’t shoot that much.
Who are your biggest rivals?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: the EU institutions, providing free service to the media who uncritically use what they offer. This is not so much the media from the former Eastern European countries. They still have memories of state propaganda in memory, but in turn can not pay.
And then there are colleagues, who set prices so low that they even go personally bankrupt. They do not earn enough to pay their taxes by 33% and their social benefits of 22% of the revenue. They use the three years to bomb the market, then afterwards we must use energy to explain to customers that they will have to pay to use a professional photographer.
Jørn Stjerneklar: I’m sitting in a niche and have not really any serious competitors: -)
Nina Mouritzen: ??
Jacob Langvad: There are so many talented photographers out there, that you can stare yourself blind. I am not thinking so much about the competition. However, in Brazil, for example. the price level is generally much lower than in Europe / US, so it happens that one is undercut by local photographers.
Poul Madsen: Photographers destroying the profession and the industry by abusing editing tools like Photoshop. Newspapers destroy journalism by filling their columns with the indifferent infotainment and gossip bullshit. Politiken’s online newspaper reminds me gradually of the now defunct magazine called “A crazy, crazy world.” The media industry is in flux and national newspapers can not figure out how to use the internet even if print media are struggling. It’s a little sad to see…
What is the future like?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: It looks very exciting with lots of challenges.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Very good.
Nina Mouritzen: At a political / World Soluble plan? …. Better, thanks to Obama.
Jacob Langvad: Very interesting.
Poul Madsen: I do not know. I am not such a type that makes five-year plans and things like that. I take it as it comes. But if all goes well then I have created a professional production company with distinctive quality. The exact opposite of the way that the media industry is running at the moment!
What has surprised you on your journey?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: There have not been any surprises to me, but I am rather surprised that the media uncompromisingly accepts free journalistic services and materials such as photos, TV, photographers from public institutions as we, the press should be critical of.
That is interesting; what happened in the EU in this decade has declined so drastically as they have. Before the summer holidays both Berlingske Tidende and Politiken every two full-time correspondents. Today they have half, and not forgetting that Politiken luckily still have their trainees. Berlingske had in the nineties two permanent employees and a freelance employee journalist. Børsen has not had a correspondent in recent years. In the early nineties, it had two.
And it surprises me a little that I have to work as a PR photographer for businesses and institutions.
In the nineties, we were two Danish photographers (Claus Lunde), 2 Finnish and 1 Norwegian. In addition, we could add one Norwegian and Swedish photographer from Paris, which is still there. Here in the city, we are only my Finnish colleague Juha Roininen and myself.
Jørn Stjerneklar: That Danes (editors, etc.) still cares so little for Africa.
Nina Mouritzen: Life in general is fairly complex to understand, so I will say that every day sends a “curve ball”.
Jacob Langvad: I’m just pleasantly surprised by Brazil. It is a very exciting country with great development. My friends and family are beginning to understand that I am not only here to lie on the beach and dance samba. São Paulo is the economic and cultural center for the whole of South America and a very exciting place to be.
Poul Madsen: How level of competition within the profession and how the editors of magazines consistently use the same photographers … and thus the same visual expression. It’s probably been a surprise to me how much portraits and pictures really fill the magazine industry. It is a “polished unreality” that is presented to the readers.
What are the advantages of living where you live?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: The sky is the limit. Brussels is a very tolerant city to live in. I think it is because it has always been bilingual, Flemish and French, and thus different cultures.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Eight-month summer skies, it’s relatively cheap, good wine, fresh fish and vegetables year round and people who are open and welcoming.
Nina Mouritzen: The whole world is at your doorstep and the city never so much as takes a nap.
Jacob Langvad: Large economic development, many creative people, sympathetic people, good climate, better service, exciting language, beautiful nature.
Poul Madsen: It was cheap and there was really short way in if you wanted to enter and succeed in higher social strata. It is also a good way learn how to cope in a culture that is so radically different from the Danish. If you can work as a photographer in India you can survive anywhere.
Do you networks with other danish photographers abroad?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: I network with Christian Jørgensen in Berlin, otherwise not. I networked a little with other Nordic photographers, but otherwise it’s here in town it takes place, where we are a small mix of Polish, American, South American, French, Flemish, Walloon, German, Spanish and Finnish influences.
Jørn Stjerneklar: No.
Nina Mouritzen: I speak and e-mail with other photographers whose work I find interesting. Their nationality and geographical location has nothing to do with it.
Jacob Langvad: No, not really.
Poul Madsen: Not so much Danish, but more foreign photographers and journalists. I networks with people who have the same interests as me and whom I maybe can work with. I have received many good sources and contacts abroad using the social networking services.
Is there something you want to warn against?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: To underestimate working conditions, tasks and more.
Often there are only seconds or minutes available on a task and the Commissioners, or their spin doctors, are not necessarily happy to have an independent photojournalist in on the interview.
Had a situation with a former Commissioner, where his spokesperson believed that I had enough photos after a few minutes. After some diplomatic discussion I was allowed to stay the entire interviewed. He had just helped his get his Commissioner jacket on, and I got a single photo of that situation. The photo came on the section front page and a few days after the journalist was asked that negatives be deleted and that it was the last time that the newspaper got a photographer into the Commissioner. They demand was later retracted.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Not to be creative and inventive is a sure killer. Being too proud to accept small assignments. Not to be humble.
Nina Mouritzen: Supports of the Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti).
Jacob Langvad: No. Nothing more than what I have said earlier. There is a big difference between being on vacation somewhere and actually live and work in a foreign city. This can be tricky with visas and work permits in all locations outside the EU, and if you do not have friends or work it can take a long time to build something.
Poul Madsen: Oh .. not really. You should do it because you are passionate about it and because quite honestly would like to commit your self to a different culture.
Is there anything you would do differently?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: Lots, but I can not right here and now remember what it is! Maybe say an apology here and there and then just try to do better next time.
Jørn Stjerneklar: No
Nina Mouritzen: Nothing at all. Nothing has gone according to any plan, and that has always been the plan.
Jacob Langvad: No.
Poul Madsen: No
Has being abroad developed you as a photographer?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: This decade has developed me as a photographer, but not because I am abroad. I work hard to develop my own style after many years as agency photographer. As the news photographer I was, it was not style that told the story. When I see old pictures, I can still remember the feeling of pride when I got the right picture. We spent a whole day to gain access and five seconds to plan and photograph.
Of course, one way or another I have been evolving. It’s hard and grueling work from time to time to get the best positions and thus the best photos. There are not many old colleagues from back then and those that remain take it slow today. I just can not take it easy, I still have that old fighter, who has to be in the middle of the event. I’ve tried to make it different, but with 27 member countries and thus more photo- and television photographers, to be multiplied by at least 2, it is difficult to do something that is different, if it is to sell. Here it is important to be first and in the best position.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Definitely.
Nina Mouritzen: I have lived in New York since I was 19 to 29 …… I think this is when one develops most as a human being at all, and commits most mistakes and makes the most discoveries. My photographic work is parallel to my life, so yes, I have developed a lot as a photographer. Whether it’s a product of having lived abroad I do not know.
Jacob Langvad: Definitely.
Poul Madsen: Definitely. It has create a lot of things for me. India was also the first place where I really was trying to make documentaries. India is an excellent place to be if you want to learn how to sweet-talk your self into the right places. It’s bureaucracy’s stronghold!
Do you have some advice for those who are considering traveling out in the world?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: Do it if you have a dream, but be prepared that you may never come home again. Maybe because you find out that the food department is ten times better than in the supermarket at home, people are more friendly, there are different cultures and people, and one might find a local lover you start a family with.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Do it!
Nina Mouritzen: Off you go!
Jacob Langvad: Try it for a time, for example. 4-6 months before doing it for real with visa etc. Get local contacts who can introduce you. Be sure to have something to do before you leave.
Poul Madsen: Just do it. Do it wholeheartedly and remember that nothing is as you expect it. Take each day as a challenge and give it all you got. Do not look back and live in the present. Network and create a network in the local environment.
Do you have any advice for graduate photographers in general?
Erik Luntang-Jensen: Maintain enthusiasm, be positive, and most importantly adhere to agreements and deadlines. Here where I work, it is important that you arrive on time, otherwise there is no access and thus no pictures.
Jørn Stjerneklar: Do not believe that you are world champions. But believe in yourself. Have respect for the subject, tell the truth, keep your head up. And although there is nothing new under the sun you can always interpret the past and present new angles.
Nina Mouritzen: Can you train to become a photographer ?? !!
Jacob Langvad: Full speed ahead and think positive.
Poul Madsen: Listen to yourself and find a niche. The media and photography industry is under pressure and there are not many permanent positions. Be passionate about your work and push yourself 100%. Create your own look and stand by it. Never refuse a challenge!
Sorry for the slight delay and thanks to:
Erik Luntang-Jensen ( https://twitter.com/luntang ) Jørn Stjerneklar Nina Mouritzen Jakob Langvad ( https://twitter.com/jlangvad ) Poul Madsen