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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Expert Interview: Magdalena Simm, lifestyle portrait photographer in Neuchatel.

Last week, I had the chance to interview Magdalenna Simm, professionnal photographer in the French speaking part of Switzerland, and it’s a pleasure to share this interview today on my blog:

Magdelena’s work is focused on lifestyle photography, which is “a style of photography which aims to portray real-life situations in a controlled setting. (look at her webpage). I really like her style also when applied to “Media Photography” meant to be used for professional and online purposes.

Magdalena, can you tell us something about your accompanying spouse story?
MAGDALENA SIMM: It's a simple story similar to the one of a large group of women living in Switzerland - my husband got an opportunity to work in Switzerland, so we came here. He took a job, and me - home and family (we have two boys).

S: Did you immediately get a job in Switzerland?
M: At the beginning I worked from Neuchatel for my newspaper (in Cracow I use to work for the biggest newspaper in south Poland), but working remotely was very complicated. Then I got an offer from a big publishing house and I wrote a guide about Switezrland. Unfortunately, due to my poor level of French, I could not even dream about taking journalistic work here.

S: And so you started photography?
M: Not right away. I have always been attracted by the world of art, and photography is my passion. Every spare moment (between home works, language classes, lessons and playing with my children) were dedicated to improve my skills. I have been reading a lot, participating to trainings and workshops, learning the new software for digital photography, and above all - I was shooting thousands of photos.

S: It looks like you are very busy?
M: In Poland,  I was really busy as I was working a 150% time job. The rest of the story you know: I had been very lucky that my husband’s company supported my career transition to Switzerland with a spouse career assistance program. Few months ago I decided that I was ready to turn my passion into a profession. And I had a lot of fun working on my professional project together with you.

S: Thanks to you I realized how important are the photos that we post on the Internet.
M: Today, more than ever, pictures are everywhere! It’s a kid of explosion of visuals everywhere. Almost every family has a camera; we have them also in our computers, mobile phones. Shoots everyone and everywhere.

S: Isn’t it good?
M: Of course it is:  Pictures, even unprofessional are great souvenirs. However, this huge volume also means a dramatic deterioration of the positioning of art photography. There has never been before so many bad pictures that are made public.

S: Do you mean on the Internet?
M: Yes, but not only. Twenty, thirty years ago in our homes there were not to many pictures, but those we exposed - on walls, placed in nice frames - were taken by professional photographers. And usually they were really good. Then we started to “make” photos ourselves and in frame appeared smiling faces and natural poses, which, however, often were far away from perfection. It was the beginning of the "lifestyle photography". But you're right, the biggest mess is on the net.

S: I think it is particularly important when images are used for professional use. Also Professional Branding International experts all agree that the visuals you put online to document your profile are extremely important.
M: In today social media world, it has never been so important: you need to control your image online and the pictures circulating on the net are a big part of your personal branding. You need to be sure that your image is telling the same message as what you say or write.

S: Okay, I understand that, but I recently read 2 contradictory articles from a famous personal branding expert. One recommended posting the same pictures on all your on-line profiles: One single avatar that you should update on a regular base (no picture of you when you were 20 if you’re now in your late 30’s…) but not too frequently. The second article advised to have many different pictures of you online so that someone who would “google” your name wouldn’t be bored seeing always the same visual. What do you think?
M: I would say that if you have an avatar (This is a visual used for your social media profile) and if that avatar is a nice professional picture of you, well, you’re already doing pretty well!  Some people are using comics or object pictures: these types of avatar don’t allow to make the link between online and face to face networking. Moreover, people may believe that you are hiding yourself being this impersonal avatar. Casual pictures are fine but only for Facebook with access reserved only to your very closed friend.

S: So, What would you recommend?
M: I think you always need to be guided by common sense.  For business purposes I would advise to have one single avatar and to use the same everywhere: on your website and blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype, email, etc.. However, there is nothing to prevent to use in private places (such as a different account on Facebook, another email address) a different avatar, perhaps with less formal photo. your picture is like your business card: it shows your professionalism at work, what you can offer as a professional, what kind of skills you can have. Personal photos can be of a different nature, but be careful - they shouldn’t look bad either, because anyone can just google your name and… see these photos...

S: Thank you Magdalenna.

You can see the work of Magdalena  on her Moonlight Photography website:
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