Beauty: An Interview with Photographer Madison Parker

Model: Terri Lynn Smith   MUA: Courtney Zepeda

Dani: So, I just need to start this interview with my usual greeting to you: “MADISOOOOON!!!!” I don’t know why I always feel compelled to yell out your name…

Madison: I like your enthusiasm. J

Dani: Your presence sort of demands enthusiasm. We all get excited when we know you’re going to be at a shoot!
You are the perfect person to interview about beauty, because beauty is what you create with your images. It’s not just the shot you take, but what you do with it afterwards. How did you get started with photography?

Madison: Most photographers learn photography first, and editing second. For me, it was the other way around. I’ve been manipulating photos for years. One of my earliest masterpieces involved me compositing my mom into a picture with Pierce Brosnan. We got such a laugh out of that! For a while, I had aspirations of being a book cover artist, but got frustrated working with stock images, so I decided to buy a DSLR and learn photography so that I could create my own catalog of stock. I never expected to fall in love with photography the way that I have, nor did I think I would enjoy photographing people as much as I do.

Model: Ophelia PopTart  MUA: Dani Lazaro

Dani: It is SO much fun to watch you at a shoot. I sometimes see those moments where your internal wheels are spinning. You get this very intense look on your face, and that seems to be where your idea is born. What is going on inside your mind at these times?

Madison: Meetups are challenging because I don’t necessarily know what the model, wardrobe, or makeup will look like ahead of time. I don’t walk into those situations with a clear vision. So I like to sit back and watch for a few minutes. I’m looking primarily for movement and expression, and thinking of ways I can transform what’s in front of me in post-processing.

Model: Emily Elizabeth Burns

Dani: I don’t ever see you shoot any one particular type of person – one body size or beauty esthetic – so what is it that attracts your camera to a person? Where are you finding their beauty?

Madison: I love photographing all types of people. To me, beauty is less about having the perfect figure or flawless skin and more about being comfortable in your own skin. Honesty, intensity, confidence. That’s what entices me to click the shutter.

Model: Stacey Marchio Johnson   MUA: Dani Lazaro

Dani: You yourself seem to opt for a fresh faced look, which not only suits you but is very much in style. What routine do you focus on for your own beauty?

Madison: I prefer not to wear makeup while I’m shooting because it inevitably ends up all over the back of my camera. I do like to enhance my eyes, though. My favorite product is Urban Decay’s original Naked palette.

Dani: We both have a passion for empowering young people of all types it seems. What do you wish you could tell every young person out there who struggles with their self image?

Madison: It’s hard to answer that without sounding cliché. I would tell them not to compare themselves to others, but rather to embrace the qualities that make them who they are, because that is truly special. As a photographer, I’ve learned just how much retouching is involved in creating commercial images, even with “classically beautiful” models. It’s an artform, not an attainable real-life standard.

Model: Bellah Jaimie

Dani: We are also very close in age! You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? The awful trends that were so hot when we were young. I had a love affair with the worst looks – navy eyeliner, neons, huge hair….what kinds of things were you rocking? And which trend do you look back on and cringe?

Madison: Oh, I definitely had the huge hair with high, teased bangs. And earcuffs. Remember those?!

Dani: I plead the 5th on earcuffs!!!!
I idolized Molly Ringwald as a teen (didn’t we all?), and I’ve told you on many occasions that I think you look like her. Do you get that a lot? Do you like that comparison?

Madison: I have heard that before, and I love the comparison. I was a huge fan of the brat pack. Rob Lowe made my heart pitter patter on many a lonely night.

Dani: Oh, he was a cutie, wasn’t he? Still is!
Those of us that have the pleasure of working with you kind of perch on the edge of our seats, just waiting for one of your edited images, knowing we’re in for something truly amazing. Where does your inspiration come from?

Model: Savannah Lambert    MUA: Dani Lazaro

Madison: I do tend to keep people waiting… inspiration doesn’t always come quickly; I find it’s better if I don’t force it. It usually starts with the subject’s expression, and I build on the image from there. I do a lot of experimentation as well and wait for those “aha!” moments. When I get so excited by an idea that I lose all track of time working on it, I know I have something special.

Dani: Any dream subjects? Who would you love to get in front of your camera that you haven’t yet, famous or non?

Madison: No one particular comes to mind, but I’d love to work with more male subjects, and try some grittier images.

Model: Ayla Claypool

Dani: Last question! Let’s say you are in charge of my creative side for the day, and we have a fantastic model working for us. What kind of look do you instruct me to do? Smokey eye? Classic pinup? Something a bit dark? The sky’s the limit! And….go!

Madison: If the sky’s the limit, let’s do something funky and sci-fi like with white skin, smokey eyes, and wild hair. And full on body paint!


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