Maxine Helfman is a self-taught photographer who made the jump from stylist and photo art director, to actually getting behind the camera and realising her vision.  Since that transition, Maxine Helfman has been shooting commercially for advertising and editorial clients.  However, Maxine also finds time for personal projects.  The work of Maxine Helfman has been recognised by PX3, IPA, Lucie Awards, CNN, Critical Mass and the British Journal of Photography.  On top of this, her work is also part of the permanent collection of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and at the Museum of Fine Art in Houston.  Her work has been exhibited all around the world.  Please enjoy my interview with Maxine Helfman…

When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?

I’m a photographer, I make a living by doing what I love.

the art of creative thinkingWhat are you reading at the moment?

I am currently reading two books; The Shadow Of The Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski and The Art Of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins.

What’s your earliest memory of reading?

My earliest reading memory would of course be reading The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss.

If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?

I would encourage young people to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

When did you fall in love with photography?

I fell in love with photography when I discovered the work of Irving Penn and Richard Avedon.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

The worst job I’ve ever had was working in road construction.

What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring photographer?

Play, make mistakes, learn the technicals, but break the rules. Take the time to find your style.

Who would you say are the three photographers that continue to inspire you?

Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Erwin Blumenfeld, their work continues to amaze me.

Do you read as much as you’d like to?

I wish my answer was yes.

the alchemistWhat books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?

I would recommend aspiring photographers to read the following:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho,
Ignore Everybody: 39 Other Keys To Creativity by Hugh Macleod,
Photowisdom by Lewis Blackwell,
Road To Seeing by Dan Winters.

Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Photowisdom by Lewis Blackwell; they’re good places to take a pause as I go forward.  I’ve also re-read Bird By Bird by Anne Lamot.

What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?

The book I’ve recommended the most is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho; which is a great book for reflection.

What’s your favourite genre of book?

My choices are random, but I have a pretty extensive photoraphy library.

What do you think a world without books would be like?

We thought that would happen, but it hasn’t.

the bluest eyeIs there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?

I will read anything by Toni Morrison, ever since I read The Bluest Eye, and also, anything by Anne Lamott.

Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?

No, I think we’ve already seen that. it’s refreshing to get away from a screen.

What book do you feel humanity needs most right now?

A compilation of all of the best minds in the world in the arts, science, technology, historians, politicians and religious leaders, a few pages from each containing their reflections and insight.

What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?

It’s not one book, it’s my photography library.  I spend alot of time there.

Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?

I love reading the introductions and information in my library of photography books.

What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?

I plan on reading more on the subject of history, as it just gets more interesting as we see the world change so rapidly.

If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?

It would be a photo book, images are my words.

If you’d like to learn more about Maxine Helfman, you can find her on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

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