An Interview with Madeleine Penfold

  • Athlete jumping and posing
  • Athlete going through motions

A short time ago we caught up with Madeleine Penfold, an up-and-coming photographer who was using Direct Studio to shoot a project on the strength of women. While she was developing the theme in her photos and exploring what the idea means to the subjects, we managed to ask her a few questions about her process and inspiration.

How did you get into photography?

I was always naturally drawn to cameras and art; I used to draw for hours as a young girl. I received my first camera for my 14th birthday and I haven't stopped since. I was that annoying kid that went everywhere with a camera. My first camera was an Olympus e-410. 

How do you feel you connect to the theme of strength?

Strength can be interpreted in many ways - physically, mentally and emotionally. Feeling strong is feeling confident and good in what you do. This is something I wanted to communicate in my images.

What made you choose this subject?

The idea of strength of females and how this is captured and portrayed in the media interests me. I have photographed many males looking strong and powerful but never had the chance to commercially photograph female's in this way. 
Being strong is something I want to show visually in females for other women and men to see and connect with. This doesn't necessarily mean physically strong, although this is a part of it, but also being strong with your identity and different sides of who you are. In the images I captured, there are a variety of emotions. 

Madeleine taking photo of Arnelle


How do you try to connect to your subjects?

I do my research first, so I know who I'm talking to. I create a comfortable environment for that person to be able to come out of their shell: I allow them to talk about what they do and give them the space to be them. I'll give suggestions in terms of direction. I also make myself vulnerable - sharing something personal and relatable. Through doing this it creates a connection.

What inspires you?

Humans and places. People who go against the grain. People who do selfless acts of kindness. Places of natural beauty. 

What kind of equipment do you use?

For this particular shoot, Canon 1DX with a 24-70mm sigma. 
Personally, I switch between my Canon with Sigma lenses, my little Leica d-lux 109, disposable cameras, I also have a Sony a7s but we're yet to bond. 

Madeleine was able to transform our studio into the space she needed to connect to her subjects and get the powerful shots that represent strength in women. We provided a space, equipment, and advice - able to share our technical knowledge. When asked about her experience working with us, luckily, she had only good things to say,

"I love Direct. I hope they love me too. Direct Digital are professional and inspiring to work with. They give advice and are heavily involved in the industry. They are lovely, giving people with all the knowledge needed for someone like myself to feel supported in what I do as a visual artist."  

Madeleine taking jumping shot of Arnelle

To see more images from this shoot and keep track of Madeleine's upcoming projects, check out her site and follow her @madeleine.penfold