I sat down (virtually) with Madi Atkins a big hearted, free spirited creative who you will find most often behind the camera working her magic! Madi is a go-getter and always moving from one project to the next.
Here's what we chatted about, on this occasion...
WHO: Madeleine Atkinson (Madi Atkins for short).
NATIONALITY: Californian ;).
CURRENT LOCATION: West Village, New York City, NY - although I’m temporarily relocated at my mom’s house in San Diego for quarantine.
FAVOURITE NEW YORK:
STORE: B&H Photo.
BEACH: Does Montauk count as an NYC beach? Haha. Otherwise, I’m going to have to defer to my California side and say Del Mar Beach in San Diego.
BAR: You can order chicken tenders at the bar at the Blond, so I’d have to go with that one.
CREATIVES: Annie Leibovitz (she used to be my neighbour!)
STAR SIGN: Aries! Scorpio moon and Libra rising.
BEST PLACE TO TRAVEL: Cauayan Island Resort in El Nido, Philippines.
MOST PRIZED POSSESSION: This is going to sound like such an odd answer, but my most prized possession would probably be my laptop computer - the one I’m typing on right now. I bought it when I was 20 years old about 4 days before I left to take a semester off of college to backpack the world for 4 months. I was starting a travel blog and I needed a small computer with powerhouse energy. I spent hundreds of hours editing photos, videos, and writing blog posts during those 4 months -- and I never stopped. It was this time creating that ultimately ignited my journey to rediscovering myself as a creative professional. 5 years later, I’ve edited everything from my final college project to a Times Square campaign on this tiny computer, and it still runs like a champ (with the help of a lot of extra SSD/RAM/tune-ups, lol). That same powerhouse energy has not only been by my side for every step of my career journey since, it’s driven it. Every project, every software, every all-nighter, every new country I travel to - this computer resiliently supports me. And every day when I go to open it for the first time, I’m reminded how far I’ve come.
FAVOURITE FOOD: Yellow nectarines!! I cry tears of joy every year when they come back in season. Otherwise, my favourite food is bread and butter. Literally. I often enjoy bread and butter more than the meal that follows.
WHO YOU'RE MOST INSPIRED BY: I’m most inspired by my best friend, Elizabeth Bennett. She is a model and stylist living in Mexico City, and we’ve been partners in life and work since the month we both moved to NYC. Liz is 4 years younger than me, but it often feels like she is the older one - she is constantly teaching me things and challenging me to broaden my perspective. She has amazing taste and is constantly discovering new brands, destinations, music, shoot locations… She has had a huge influence on my creative development and personal style. The shoots we’ve created together have been some of my favourite to date. What inspires me most about Liz is her fearlessness. She literally isn’t scared of anything. She holds herself boldly and elegantly - the definition of a tough girl. She has a positive outlook to every situation and inspires me to say yes and make the most out of every day.
WHAT YOU DO: First and foremost, I’m a photographer. I am fortunate enough to shoot a wide variety of subjects and projects - everything from seasonal brand lookbooks to product photos of tech accessories to fashion week in New York in Australia. I am also the founder and director of Madness Studio (formerly known as Madi Atkins Creative), a creative marketing agency specializing in multimedia content production, digital marketing strategy, social media management, and brand development. We work with clients across the globe in the fashion, beauty, travel, and lifestyle industries.
THE DEFINING MOMENT THAT LED YOU TO BE A PHOTOGRAPHER: The defining moment that sticks out in my mind was on my 10th birthday, the day I received my first camera. My grandfather - we called him Pop Pop - was a hobbyist photographer who had some incredible photographs of African wildlife and WWII. He would tell me detailed stories of how he got the shot and let me practice taking pictures of my brothers on his Polaroid whenever I would come over. On my 10th birthday, he gave me the camera. I remember that my parents had never given me anything that nice before (I was a rather destructive child) and I thought he was joking. I even called him that night to thank him for “lending it to me” and he said, “no Madeleine, that’s yours, my gift to you. I know you are going to get some good shots. Take care of it and don’t waste any film.” He was the first person to trust me and my creativity and it was in that moment I decided I wanted to be a photographer. From that day on, I had a camera by my side at all times, and I never stopped taking pictures.
WHEN YOU'RE NOT SHOOTING, YOU ARE: You’d probably find me traveling - I try to take a month every summer during slow season to spend some time traveling, exploring, and visiting friends without the pressures of work. Europe is my go-to. When I’m home, I spend my down time hanging out with my friends or scouring Soundcloud for new music.
IF YOU WEREN'T A PHOTOGRAPHER, YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN: Hmm…. I think I’d like to have been a Private Investigator. I have pretty sharp research skills and a talent for being able to find just about anything on the Internet (watch out boiz).
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR CAREER: The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome in my career is figuring out how to ‘establish myself’ without any guidance or industry connections, especially at a young age. I always wanted to be a photographer, but I’ve never really had a photography mentor or someone to ‘show me the ropes’. That being said, it took a lot of hard work to establish myself and break past the barriers to entry that come with being a professional creative, the fashion industry, and running a business. When I first moved to NYC at 22, it seemed like every fashion photographer I admired was a male in his 40s, who had spent at least 10 years working his way up the assisting ladder until he had learned enough and proven himself sufficiently to be signed by an agency and start shooting his own big brand campaigns. Those who I asked suggested I do the same if I ever wanted to make a name for myself and become an established photographer.
It was my decision to create my own path that led me to overcoming this challenge. I didn’t need to be represented to get recognized or land cool clients - I used Instagram to scout newly-established brands that I noticed had marketing budget depending on the Influencers they used, and then utilized the skills I had learned from my advertising classes to send hundreds of cold emails and put together proposals for lookbooks and content shoots until I finally landed my first client. Anything I needed to learn - whether it was how to use a gimbal or how to manage my QuickBooks, I taught myself online. I networked at the clubs and bars, making sure every model or person who worked in fashion followed me back by the end of the night, so that they’d notice the next morning when I *strategically* posted one of my best photos and hopefully want to shoot with me down the road. I paid close attention to industry trends and made sure that whenever a new creative medium was making its way to the digital marketing landscape, I had it under my belt and could offer it as a service to my clients in addition to my photography.
I’m grateful to say my hard work paid off. I landed Bebe, Show Me Your Mumu, Kensie, Avec Les Filles, and Bagatelle International as regular clients within my first year of business and had 2 campaigns in Times Square, and the ride has only gotten better with time. You truly can overcome anything if you just believe in yourself!!