Reinterpreting the world through photography. Interview with Esme Mai, a student on the Course in Documentary Photography and Reportage

Esme Mai, a British student at the IED Madrid School of Photography, trained and worked in the field of fashion design before devoting herself to her true passion: photography.

As a photographer, she conceives her profession as a way of sharing her point of view, of making people think and feel through her photographs. She says that she loves to create and document in images the ever-changing and dynamic world in which we live.

The Postgraduate Course in Documentary Photography and Reportage is the reason why the British photographer has moved her residence to Madrid. A course dedicated to training professional photographers who are able to reinterpret the world through photography.

Next, we talk to Esme about her vision of photography, her career and her experience at IED Madrid.


Photographs by Esme Mai.




Esme Mai

"I love photography because it allows me to represent the world from my unique viewpoint. I enjoy the challenge of creating thought-provoking images that make people think or feel."


How and when did you know that you wanted to be a photographer? What do you like most about your profession?
I first realised I wanted to be a photographer when I started assisting a professional photographer friend and he lent me a DSLR camera; photography suddenly felt like a form of expression for me and I couldn’t imagine not having it in my life from then on. 
The reason I chose to make photography my profession is simply because I love it. I’m a strong believer in having a career in something you enjoy doing and photography ticks that box for me, it allows me to be creative and indulge in my passion.

During the Documentary & Reportage Course, you have developed a personal photographic project, what is yours about? What did you get inspired?
During the master, we developed a personal project and for this, I decided to explore how I felt as a teenager growing up in a confusing society that puts pressure upon women to look a certain way; which is a topic that’s still relevant in today's society. I was inspired by the grungy 90’s setting of my teenage years and that awkward adolescence stage where you just want to fit in.

How has the experience at the IED Madrid helped you in your professional career? What would you highlight of the program? 
Studying at the IED provided me with the experience and professional qualification that I need for future perspective clients. It enabled me to build a portfolio of relevant work in the areas of photography that I want to pursue within my career.
When looking for a university the IED really stood out to me for various reasons, the masters were condensed into 9 months, which made studying there achievable and affordable. Being from the UK I also loved the idea of studying abroad and experiencing a different culture. The quality and the variety of teachers and speakers at the IED was something that was also very appealing. We were able to meet and network with many different professional photographers in the industry and had the chance to hear different perspectives on photography which broadened my knowledge and enabled me to develop a diverse skill set. We had lots of hands-on projects and studio work, paired with the history of photography and technical classes to create the perfect balance of creativity, inspiration and practical learning.

Where do you see yourself in the coming years?
Now that I’ve graduated from the IED I plan to work as a full-time photographer in areas of the field that I enjoy such as fashion and lifestyle; my objective is to be hired for my personal style and make a living working this way.

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