Talman Madsen

Published 15/3/2017


Hi Talman! Can you tell us where you're based and what you do?

I'm a New Zealand based landscape and adventure photographer - aka I travel New Zealand, and sometimes the world, seeking out the most epic of epic places to photograph. For the longest time I have been fascinated with New Zealand and as a passionate kiwi, it was a road trip down the west coast that sparked in me what has been an insatiable desire to explore and see more.

When picking your next adventure, do you look for anything in particular? Do some types of landscape call your name more than others?

"Adventure" - an unusual and exciting or daring experience. When I'm getting out I LOVE going to places I haven't been before. The senses are always overwhelmed with new sights and smells, different structures, plants, animals, it's a feast! A feast you can never enjoy quite like the way you do when you're there for a first time. This doesn't mean I only go to places I haven't been previously, but it does mean when I'm looking for an adventure I find ways to push myself into recreating the sense and feeling of adventure.

As such I tend to find myself in places that can be physically demanding and test your nerves, AKA, mountain tops, edges of waterfalls, sides of cliffs, and the like - generally anywhere my mum wouldn't approve of.

It's in going to these places that I feel like I've created a relationship with the landscape, and therefore the images hold a story of adventure, trial, passion, blood, sweat and tears. Rather than the typical "I hopped out of the car, walked forward ten paces, pushed a button, and that was it."

One thing I do look for when picking a landscape is the ability to be able to shoot it well at multiple times a day, for example I've been known to head out for a sunset, and not come home till after sunrise because I was entranced shooting the stars and thought I might as well stay out.

You took home the title of NZ Geographic Young Photographer of the Year 2016 with an impressive image shot using a drone. How do you think drones have changed the photographic landscape? Do you think they're becoming a more essential part of a photographer's kit?

Drones are definitely changing up the game. The ability to be able to almost instantly get a totally new angle or view of a scene with generally minimal effort is pretty special. Drones give you a whole new way to approach photography and certain landscapes, the level of creativity that it is opening up is unrivaled. There are a few issues and blurred lines surrounding what you can and can't do, once these are ironed out I think we're really going to see an even bigger uptake in drones and drone photography.

A friend of mine recently got the new DJI Mavic and after having a look at what that can do, I'm certainly going to have to get one!

What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get 'the shot'?

I don't know if I can share, out of fear for my parents wellbeing haha! Almost a year ago to the day a friend and I were waterfall bashing in Queenstown and something went wrong and I quite possibly could have died if he wasn't there. Long story short I ended up trapped under a massive boulder, boarder line hypothermic, above the snow line, right on sunset and required a mountain rescue team and a bunch of volunteers to spend 6 hours getting me out of there by helicopter. I was extremely lucky to come away relatively unscathed, but since then I have been more aware of the consequences for my actions.

Yes I still take risks, this is a natural part of life and for me a large part of what I do. I wouldn't want to glamourise this part of it however, as there are serious consequences when things go wrong. It's very important to remember this, and not to push yourself too far.

If you're looking for crazy epic risky stuff however, look no further than America, on my recent road trip I experienced things that would never be allowed here in New Zealand - it's almost as if the whole place is set up to allow natural selection to take its place. If you do dumb things, or get too close to the edge, there's nothing to stop you from falling. One hike in particular - Angels Landing in Zion National Park for example, at the start of the hike there's a sign saying, be careful, X many people have died since X year. When you get to the final push to the top and you're climbing along a ridge line that at places is only meters across with 2000ft drops on either side with no safety rails or anything to hold on to, the sign at the start makes sense. Non the less, the view is worth it!

You have 20,000+ followers on Instagram. In your opinion, what do you think are the key ingredients for creating that appeal?

Instagram is a funny little thing, I've been using the platform for a year and a half now, 3 key things that have worked for me have been:

1. Consistency - Try to post once a day so long as you have content you're happy with.

2. Engage with others and they will engage with you, leave genuine comments and likes on other peoples work, start conversations and make friends, you'll be surprised, some of my best mates I met through Instagram!

3. Look up local "Instameets" in your area and head along, these are awesome opportunities to engage with like minded people and hear about their successes and what works for them.

Lastly, remember that Instagram is just a social platform, numbers are just numbers, people are just people, a great photo that tells an awesome story is worth so much more than a few followers.

Tell us a little about what you take with you on the road - what are your photographic essentials when you're traveling further abroad?

Essentials: number one has to be a good head lamp - you never know when you're going to be out later than you're expecting! I also always take a couple of power banks - as I shoot Sony I can use these to charge my camera, my phone, my headlamp, and most other things, they have saved me more than once! Sticking with the charging theme, I usually take a multibox now so I can always charge everything in one hit, even if there's only a single socket available. Lastly, I'd say pack everything you think you need, then get rid of half of it, having too much will slow you down, plus it's fun being creative when you realise you left something behind that you actually needed!

If you could give yourself some advice when you first started taking photos, what would it be?

Spend more money on adventures than you do on equipment when you start out! Adventures are where you'll learn your craft and what types of photography you enjoy/don't enjoy. Once you're at a point where you've played around a bit then it's time to buy the gear needed to take it to the next level.

For those that want to see more of your work, where can we find you?

The best place to find me is of course on Instagram: @talman (pretty chuffed to get my first name as my handle!)
Snapchat: @Talman1
Twitter: @TalmanMadsen


The view down the valley from atop Angels Landing is well worth it after a death defying hike - Zion National Park, USA.


One of my all time favourite photos ever! Sunset views through the Yosemite Valley from atop Sentinel Dome - Yosemite National Park, USA.


An early start in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park is rewarded with incredible cloud formations and colours over Tasman Lake when it was filled with icebergs! - Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, Canterbury.


The view from above, a drone shot over European Larch Trees. This image was awarded Highly Commended in the Aerial category of the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition, it was also part of my portfolio that saw me take home the Young Photographer of the Year award. Lake Tekapo, Canterbury.


The Church of the Good Shepherd as you've probably never seen it before! Somehow at 7am on a Saturday I was lucky enough to have this place all to myself with some killer light, couldn't believe my luck! - The Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo, Canterbury.


After hiking through the night after work, the weariness was rewarded with a magic sunrise overlooking the Coromandel Peninsular. - The Pinnacles, Coromandel.


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