This month on Industry Insiders, we talk to the incredibly talented photographer/videographer, Marcus Hessenberg…
Tell us about your company or your role in it?
I am a Freelance Photographer and Videographer based in London. I am a Sole Trader which means I am responsible for my own ingoings and outgoings, basically, I work alone! My main work is in two strands, Fashion and Documentary – I love Fashion photography and film, but I also have a huge interest in factual and political filming as I love capturing people.
How did you get your start in the fashion business?
By accident really. As I say, I love capturing people from all sorts of backgrounds. My main hope is to get into documentary filming and to create long-form films about political situations. I also like mixing sexuality with fashion. I am far from a prude and enjoy that element in fashion photography.
My time is really split between Fashion and Documentary work. I just found myself pursuing each of these subjects whenever I had time off from my previous jobs. If I could book an interview with a London Cab Driver, or book a model and arrange an ad-hoc shoot, I would make sure all my downtime was spent on either.
Did you always want to be a photographer?
I started shooting when I was 14, with am OM10 that I bought. This was a 35mm film camera and all the photos would be developed at Bonusprint. I would just shoot my friends – none of the photos was particularly good but learning how to shoot on film really makes you learn how to use a camera manually. I then studied photography A Level where I was the last year to learn how to use a darkroom. Digital Cameras were only really just getting to be usable.
I planned to study photography as a degree but somehow found myself on a Performance and Visual Art course that focused on music and video. It was a great place to learn how to develop yourself as a ‘creative’ but on the whole, most of my learning was outside University. The course has closed now. During that time I always had my video camera and filmed everything, from conversations with girls I fancied (it is not as creepy as it sounds) to bands I liked.
It was not until I moved to London that I finally took it all a bit more seriously.
The most important quality needed to do your job well?
Work hard!!! You have to just build up momentum and keep going. Being freelance means you are always working, whether it is organising a shoot, shooting, emailing, doing your tax, learning new techniques etc. You have to be really determined and prioritise your work over your social life – eventually, it all blurs into one and your work becomes your social life.
You also have to be good with people. People hire you because they like you, as much as they like your images. If you get on with people, they will book you again. They will also like your images more. When it comes to interviewing people in the documentary world, this is the most important skill.
Do you think fashion films are an emerging sub-genre?
100 percent. Film and fashion have always gone hand in hand. However, I love historical films and film by default records fashion and times. If you watch an old Pathe news film from the 60s, you may learn about the original subject matter that was intended in the film but you learn about the fashion of the day as much. However, with the video being easier to film, edit and share these days and with the internet making it easier and easier, everything is moving towards film. As a photographer, you must know about film too.
Any misconceptions people have of your industry?
There are some truths and misconceptions… Luckily, I move in circles of very nice people, from agencies to models and colleagues. We can be discussing all sorts whilst shooting. Some people just expect everyone to be airheads, I am sure that world exists, and I have seen it, but I think there are many clubs in most industries, you can choose what your aspirations are. I try to avoid the privileged end of the industry – I think the more sheltered people are, the more the cliches of the industry can be true.