May 29, 2014

Phlearn Interviews the Phamily III

Hi Everyone! This week we’ve got something a little different for you! We are bringing back the Phamily Interview.

Last week we brought you Phlearn Interviews The Phamily, Edition II, Featuring photographer and Phamily Member Anthony Passant/AP Photographie. This week we are bringing you Phlearn Interviews the Phamily, Edition III, Featuring photographer and Phamily Member Mandy Rosen.

“Phlearn Interviews The Phamily” is the beginning of a new series, where we feature talented and creative photographers on Phlearn. We showcase their talents through creating dialogue within an interview, and by of course profiling some of our favourite works by the artist(s). If anyone is wondering who or what exactly the “Phamily” is, it’s simply a word created to symbolize the community that we have here at Phlearn. If you watch our videos, read our posts, follow our tutorials and/or look at weekend inspiration, you bet you’re a Phamily member here at Phlearn. 😉

This interview is Edition III in the “Phlearn Interviews the Phamily” series. We will run these types of interviews once every 2-4 months, and the interviews are meant to showcase and profile the amazing talent of photographers, who began learning about photography through the means of our tutorials here at Each edition will profile 1-2 photographers. This edition was spread out over two weeks to make the content easier to read. Enjoy!

Mandy Rosen is a young female photographer born in 1989, and currently living in Southern California. Mandy first began her journey with photography 5 years ago with her main interests lying in landscape photography and photojournalism. However now her work focuses more on conceptual and fine art portraiture and self-portraiture. Mandy’s work has been seen in Magazine features, online publications, as well as on television. Some of these appearances include: Inside Edition, Interview with CBS (2014), Good Morning America (2014), Campaign Collaboration with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2014), New York Times Sunday Edition (2014), Republic X Magazine (2013), Nau Nau Magazine (2013) and many many more.

“Photography is a way for me to escape reality into an ethereal realm; where I can defy gravity, walk on water, play a different character, and make dreams come true. Anything I imagine I can create. Music, film, and personal life experiences serve as inspiration for my work. Desolation, isolation, loneliness, pain, self-discovery, childhood nostalgia, and the pursuit of happiness are some of the common themes found in my photos.”

Join us in this interview with Mandy, as she shares with us amazing before and after composited images, she tells us about her internship with Celebrity Photographer & Victoria’s Secret Photographer Russell James, she shares with us her insights as to how to conceptualize ideas, as well as what she found to be the best option for promoting yourself and your business. This is a great interview, Mandy had me laughing out loud reading some of these answers. Enjoy!!

Currently your photography focuses on fine art conceptual portraiture and self-portraiture, but your interest in photography began with landscape photography and photojournalism. With this said, in the beginning, how did your interest in photography come to fruition?

My interest in photography first began when I saw “The Shot” on VH1, a reality TV show about photography that was hosted by celebrity photographer Russell James. I saw the show approximately 6 years ago and it really inspired me to start taking pictures and introduced me to the notion of conceptual photography. I remember one episode specifically where all the photographers were inside a contained room and were instructed to throw paint everywhere including all over the models. I loved how the photographers captured such interesting photos such as the paint slowly dripping off the model’s chin and how much fun they seemed to be having taking pictures and throwing paint. It showed me a whole new side of photography that I didn’t know existed, I had no idea you could be so creative with a camera in a conceptual way. A few months after watching the show I decided to go into Wal-Mart to purchase my first dSLR camera: a $99 s700 finepix Fugi camera. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of everything I saw and everyone I met after that.

Secondly, how did your photography interest transition from landscape and photojournalism to fine art portraiture and self-portraiture?

I was first introduced to the fine art photography world by a talented photographer named Chrissie White. My mom’s aunt had come across an article about Chrissie in an Oprah magazine and ripped it out to show me. I took a look at the article and the first thing I saw was a beautiful levitation photo of Chrissie where it looked like she was about to fly out the window of her bedroom. I had never seen a levitation photo before and I became fascinated with the idea of creating one for myself just to try it out. I did a lot of research on the internet and found several levitation tutorials while stumbling across other fine art photographers on the internet that I would later down the road learn a lot from.

You’ve learnt a lot about photography through Other than this do you have any type of formal training in photography?

I do not have any formal training in photography. I took one or two classes in college on photography and didn’t like them much. The teachers were really nice and I got along with the students well and everything, I just feel like when it comes to the arts and particular types of photography, I do much better learning on a self-taught basis. Trial and error is the best way I have learned to shoot and edit.

Currently you are in film school at “Video Symphony” in California USA. How did your interest in film begin?

I have always had a special love for cinema, which began really when I was sent to boarding school in Sedona, Arizona at the age 14. Once I was sent to school I found that I didn’t have as much freedom to go out and have a social life like the way I did in California. Boarding school can be strict and you need to find ways to entertain yourself. During the weekend bus trips to Wal-Mart I would always head to the $5 DVD bin and find entertaining movies that I could have fun watching later that weekend. Two years later I would accumulate close to 200 DVDs in my collection.

Tell us about your favourite movie that you’ve ever created. (Title of movie, concept, maybe behind the scenes, whatever you like really!)

My favourite video I ever created was my Video Diary trip to China from two years ago. I was in China with my dad for nearly a month so I had a ton of interesting footage from all the amazing cities, performances, and adventures we had embarked on. Since I had such awesome footage from our travels in China, it made the post processing that much more fun. It was probably the best time I ever had editing one of my travel videos.

Who are some of your favourite artists, directors, and photographers?

If I had to choose a favourite director it would probably be Quentin Tarantino, but I also love the works from Woody Allen, Kevin Smith, and Federico Fellini. In terms of fine art photography some of my favourites are Brooke Shaden, Kyle Thompson, Lissy Larrichia, Anka Zhuravleva, and Olga Valeska.

Please tell us about your internship with celebrity photographer and Victoria’s Secret photog Russell James?

I met Russell for the first time in 2011 when he was hosting a Nomad Two Worlds exhibit in Santa Monica. I approached him and told him how his TV inspired me and how I was a finalist in several of his online photography competitions. We talked for a good 30 minutes and I also gave him a copy of my photography book with my contact info in the cover. Soon after, he contacted me through Facebook and then ended up talking to me on the phone when he offered me an internship in New York. It was one of the greatest experiences I ever had and I learned a lot about myself during my two months at Victoria’s Secret. Mostly I pertained to the social media world during my internship. I would update Russell’s social media pages for him and often came up with ideas for interesting posts they could make on Russell’s fan page. I got food and drinks for all the models in the morning while they were in hair and make up. One time I had to carry over 14 cups of coffee from Starbucks to the Victoria’s Secret photo shoot that was located several blocks away. It was one of the harder tasks of my internship.

What inspires you?

Everything. Music, movies, personal life experiences, other photographers.

What doesn’t inspire you?

Salads. They’re boring and tasteless.

How important is Photoshop and/or post-processing to your works?

Post processing is imperative. I would never post an image without any post processing on the internet the same way a stylist wouldn’t send their celebrity client to a red carpet event without a stitch of makeup. Photoshop to me, is digital “make up” to a photograph.

Tell us about the online workshops that you offer!

I’ve done several workshops with students in person but also several workshops over the internet. I prefer hosting the online workshops because I believe it is easier and more effective. It may be easy to forget important details about photography during a private workshop when you’re not even writing things down, but with the online workshops you get screenshots and all the desired information condensed and written out for you to refer back to.

What is your favourite part about teaching people and sharing your knowledge about Photography and Photoshop?

I love helping people reach their desired goals when it comes to Photography and Photoshop. It took me years to learn Photoshop (and I am still learning new things everyday) and I understand it is important to receive all the help that you can get in the beginning. I know that it makes me happy when creating an image that I love, so if I can help someone else feel that same passion and happiness, that makes me happy as well.

When conceptualizing ideas for photoshoots, do you ever sketch out your ideas?

I am a horrible sketcher. I prefer to write my ideas down, either with pencil or keep lists on my computer.

If not, what are some of your methods (that you don’t mind sharing) for trying to come up with ideas?

I definitely get a lot of inspiration from looking at work from other photographers. I also come up with ideas by visiting antique and vintage shops and checking out all the clothing and different props and visualizing how I could potentially use them in a photo.

And on average how long does it take to create an image? (Conceptualizing an idea, organizing, shooting, editing, etc)

Anywhere from 2 hours to 40 hours.

Is there one piece of equipment that you just can’t live without?

I know it’s sorta cliche to say, but I can’t live without the 50mm 1.4 lens. It’s light and not too heavy to carry and the settings of the depth of field feature is really awesome

What’s your favourite photo that you’ve ever taken? (why?)

I can’t say that I have a favourite photo. They’re all too different to compare really. I do like the series of photos I created while on the Turks and Cacos Island in the Caribbean, it was the perfect blend of heavenly vacation time mixed with productive photo taking and editing.

You’ve only been seriously doing fine art photography for around 2-3 years now, and you’ve come so far over such a short time. I have seen your progress over seeing your work through e-mails over time, and it’s incredible really! Since beginning photography you have been published in several magazines, online magazines, online features, as well as television features.
With all of this said, how hard was it to get to whee you are now?

Thank you so much for the kind words. That means more to me than you’ll know! Looking back, none of it seemed hard, just really time consuming here and there. Photoshop seemed really hard in the beginning but I just realized that it took a lot of practice.

And how important would you consider it to be to stay “self-motivated” (especially when we are our own employees)?

It’s not only important it’s essential. Without self-motivation it would be difficult to be productive. That’s why it’s so important to mix it up when it comes to photography and try different things, techniques and settings.

Please tell us about the things you do to self-promote yourself and your photography. What methods do you find to be the most successful? (for example your booths selling prints)

Facebook seems to be the most successful for me. Handing out business cards is usually pretty ineffective and a waste of paper. I’ve also connected with several other photographers online by either messaging them or friend requesting them over Facebook which has helped to build my online network.

Within your works you sometimes deal with controversial subject matters such as drugs and alcohol, and you often shoot nude self-portraiture. I was wondering if you ever deal with any controversy from creating these types of works?

The main controversy I get mainly comes from my mom and grandma. They think I am too free and bold in the way I express myself verbally and visually on the internet and they often have issues with my posts and nude images. Whenever they talk with me about it I usually just laugh it off and change the subject. Sometimes I’ve gotten other strange reactions from people off the internet from my controversial-type photos but it’s usually not a negative reaction.

What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not shooting and/or editing?

I’m a big homebody so I like to watch a good movie or TV show and snuggle up in bed during my free time. I also like going out with good company to restaurants or a good bar for some down time.

What is your proudest moment as a photographer?

When I set up my stand on the beach to sell my images at the Farmer’s Market.

What are you currently working on/ Any big plans for the future?

Its always been my dream to one day open a school for conceptual photography where people can come and learn fine art photography. I would also like to start my own magazine where I would feature other photographers.

Where would you like to see yourself and your photography go within the next 5 years? (and/or future aspirations?)

I would like to one day open a gallery of my works somewhere in southern California and focus on that full time. I would like to dive deeper into wedding photography and possibly opening up an online editing company.

And finally, would you like to offer some advice to people who were once like you, and haven’t a clue where to start within the game of photography?

Research, research, research! The internet is such an amazing resource to learn whatever you want when it comes to Photoshop and Photography! And never feel hesitant to ask questions. Often I have contacted my favourite photographers and asked them about their editing process and if they’re willing to share their knowledge. If you practice constantly you will inevitably improve over time so never give up!

Interviewed By: Angela Butler

To keep up with Mandy and her work you can do so on her Website, Flickr and Facebook Page. Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for some awesome interviews with fashion, celebrity, and conceptual photographers in the coming weeks, I can’t wait to share with everyone!


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