photographer feature: kevin mason aka dark daze
When did you decide to go into the photography field?
I left university 3 months before I was due to finish my Interior Architecture degree. I had a strong feeling then that I wanted to pursue photography, but maybe that decision had been made years before and I wasn’t aware of it.
Who or what influenced you to become a photographer?
I believe we all build up a visual language, that we filter and process and that helps us to read the world around us. I am a very visual person, socially fairly shy, not great with conversation but I feel I understand people more through observation. Photography, or being a photographer is an attempt to understand my world and for others to hopefully understand me.
When did your career start?
When I went on a road trip with my parents aged 9- and took some snaps and cried when the prints came back as they were not what I had seen through the camera…. Truthfully though it was when I find a subject matter that I really enjoyed photography, which was graffiti writers that I knew. It was a niche area at the time, kind of underground and allowed my work to get an international following pretty quickly. I then worked for Graphotism, shooting their covers and portraits. It didn’t pay but it was definitely the start and led on to work with MTV offshoot production companies, music video shoots as a cameraman etc.
What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome when you first entered the photography field?
That I knew nothing about photography, and that I have a complete inability to network.
What is your job?
I own and run (with a business partner) the biggest photography and training centre in the south of England. I am also a full time photographer as well as teacher.
What are some of your accomplishments in the field?
I have been published in magazines from UK, to USA, Korea, France. I have been interviewed in both documentaries, and in print media. I have numerous solo exhibitions and joint exhibitions. But my biggest accomplishment to date is starting this business and keeping it thriving thru a recession.
Oh and I founded GangUp a fashion magazine.
What are the pros and cons of being in the photography business?
Pros- you get to live out your dream. When It works you genuinely cant believe you are getting paid for what you love.
Cons- its an incredibly hard business to survive in- someone will always undercut you. Clients care less now about impact of the image than they do about the cost of an image. It’s an industry of obsession and insecurity like being any kind of artist. You never now when you are going to make money, and if it will ever last. You are only as good as your last picture. Visual droughts are common and awful.
What advice could you give to a newcomer to the field as he or she searches for their first job?
Don’t price yourself too cheaply. Be confident in your visual language, if its strong it will win through. Don’t compromise at the expense of your integrity.
What are your future photography goals?
A studio in USA, and permanent residence there. Eventually I want to make movies, and have a retrospective at MOMA SF.
Does the price of a camera matter in ways that it affects the quality of the picture?
No- the camera is a device for showing what you see. Its construction is practically irrelevant.
Was photography just considered as a hobby to you in the past?
No when I knew I wanted to do it I never stopped being serious about it.
What makes a good photographer in your opinion?
Someone who has enough arrogance to believe that want they want to say and show should be seen- but not so much arrogance that they believe people will want to see it.
What do you enjoy most photographing and what do you enjoy photographing the most?
I enjoy presenting fictions that I see as truths.
Do you prefer using film cameras over digital?
In my soul yes- but sometimes I would be impossible. So I have embraced digital in the same way I have disposable point and shoot cameras, it’s just another way of showing what you want others to see.
How long did it take to take your hobby in photography and turn it into a career?
Properly it took about 6 years of full graft.
You can find Kevin Mason online here: Tumblr, Garage Studios, and Kevin Mason Photography.
This is just a small part of my e-mail interview with Kevin Mason. To read more about his photography career including a surprising look at the amount of writing a photographer does, please read the full interview here! It is a great read for anyone who is aspiring to become a professional photographer and a glimpse at what the industry is like.