Mads Peter Iversen isn’t just a YouTuber. Originally from Denmark, this philosopher turned landscape photographer and videographer has harnessed his background to make photography education available to the masses.
Having first photographed Iceland in 2015, his focus is now on expressing himself through the raw and otherworldly nature of the Arctic.
We sat down with Mads this month to talk about how he came to get tangled up in shooting, his influences and what interests him about the future of photography.
Hello Mads! You’ve had a very interesting background that wasn’t always in photography. Take us on a journey through your history!
For the most part of my youth, I wanted to be an astrophysicist. When I finally reached university I realised the math part was simply too boring. I needed something more visual and continued watching all documentaries on the subject. I decided to start at teachers college because of my background in gymnastics. Finishing teachers college, I realised I wasn’t ready to become a schoolteacher and started at university again doing a masters on educational philosophy.
In this period, my interest for photography exploded and I tried out a lot of different genres. For a long time, I thought about becoming a portrait photographer and, having learned the basics of photography, I taught some classes at a Danish Folk High School. I had played around a little with Landscape Photography in Denmark, but after my first tour to Iceland back in 2015, I fell in love with that genre and for a year I mixed portraits, events and landscape photography. I spent half a year in a photography shop confirming to myself that that was not of interest to me.
Now by 2018, I run workshops with Iceland Photo Tours and do 98% landscape photography, as well as occasional events or maybe one wedding a year. On the side, I started a YouTube channel with landscape photography guides to a lot of beautiful locations around the world.
Beneath the Aurora. Photo by: 'Mads Peter Iversen'.
How did you develop an interest in photography?
I’ve always been fairly creative and actually started out in video editing. Using my dad’s Canon 550D for gymnastic videos, it was only a small jump to doing photography. Learning photography editing and what a RAW file could do made my interest in photography explode. I spent hours each day watching tutorials on YouTube, learning that only the confines of your imagination is the limit.
Was there anything specific that you can remember that made you want to become a photographer?
The naive thought that I could actually make a living from it? No jokes aside, my main motivation is to do what I love, which is landscape photography and everything that comes with it. Living an unlived life is my biggest fear.
Black Church of Budir. Photo by: 'Mads Peter Iversen'.
Who influenced you in the early years of photography? And, are there photographers out there that you see as taking the torch and helping to push landscape photography into the future?
I’ve had many influences. An ex-girlfriend with a background in the art world was a huge help and push in the right direction of how to think about my career.
Photographers like Joel Grimes, Peter Hurley, Scott Kelby, Elia Locardi, Ted Gore, Ryan Dyer, Michael Shainblum and Alexandre Deschaumes have all been big influences in each their way.
However, I think it’s extremely hard to predict the future in regard to landscape photography and what defines landscape photography. There are now so many people influencing landscape photography in their own way that I can’t point at anyone specific. I do see the genre to become broader, more liberal and accepting “heavy” editing to be a part of it.
Dyrholaey. Photo by: 'Mads Peter Iversen'.
What was the first trip you took for photography that really helped you develop the appreciation, and ultimately passion, for landscape photography?
Without shadow of a doubt, my first tour to Iceland back in 2015. I spent three weeks alone driving around Iceland, taking photos I never thought I would be able to take.
What draws you to landscapes rather than other types of photography or subjects?
It goes back to my “nerdy” past with interest for fantasy novels, books, video games, and movies. Even though I also mixed this with portraits for a short while, it was the epic landscapes that drew my attention. Documenting nature is not a priority to me. My main motivation is to capture the landscapes in a way that reflects me and what I “see”.
Haifoss. Photo by: 'Mads Peter Iversen'.
How do you differentiate yourself from other landscape photographers?
By being myself all the way through. There’s only one of me, so it’s actually not that hard. The hard part is “finding” yourself and staying true to that.
What kind of landscape is your favourite to photograph and why?
A big, epic, rugged vista either bathed in a glorious golden light or full of stormy atmospheric clouds. Not to mention a beautiful landscape underneath heavenly phenomenons such as the Northern Lights or Milky Way.
Kirkjufell. Photo by: 'Mads Peter Iversen'.
Can you tell us a bit about your favourite locations for photography in Iceland?
Vestrahorn, Eystrahorn and Kirkjufell work really well for me as they all have a strong focal point, delivering the raw, rugged and complex vistas I so enjoy. There are also great opportunities at these locations for capturing movement.
How do you get paid to do what you want to do with your photography?
Besides running workshops, I do presentations and sell prints as well as editing tutorials through my homepage. Occasionally, I photograph an event or two. I also earn a little through my YouTube channel and by writing articles for Fstoppers.
Selfoss Waterfall. Photo by: 'Mads Peter Iversen'.
Do you keep all your photographs, even the junk?
More or less, yes. You never know if you’ll need them in the future after you get to know new editing techniques. Which I by now have experienced on several occasions.
How important is social media to your success?
Fairly important. It’s where I grow my audience and what unlocks doors to other opportunities.
Skogafoss. Photo by: 'Mads Peter Iversen'.
What are three new things (names, places), you learned in the past year about photography?
Sony Cameras are really as great as they say they are. Eystrahorn in Iceland is amazing! Having a serious Youtube channel is hard work!
What is the most unpredictable thing about the photography business?
Your income and where it comes from.
Thinking more in the present, what kinds of things are happening in the photography world now that interest you?
I think the main interest these days is how to actually boost my income. It seems shallow, but those bills need to be paid. Besides that, I enjoy the advances in drone photography.
Are you after the adventure of a lifetime? Have you been inspired to travel for photography? Join Mads on a winter photography adventure in Iceland!