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The Last Call: Justin Mott

On the back of making the first-ever reality TV show about photography — Photo Face-Off — we catch up with award-winning, Hanoi-based photographer Justin Mott


I based myself in Hanoi because… from the moment I arrived here as a tourist I felt welcomed. Visually the city is amazing. It has so much character, there is always something new to shoot and I never get bored exploring. I travel all over Southeast Asia for work, but Hanoi will always be my home.


Working in Southeast Asia… is a blessing. Each country is unique and every assignment is diverse. Living in this region allows me the opportunity to shoot editorial, commercial and wedding work. I love all three sectors.


My break as a photographer came… when I was assigned a story in Malaysia for the New York Times. It was a tricky story to get access to and my image made the front page. After that I was on the radar of the editors there. From there they have sent me all over Asia — I’ve now covered over 100 assignments for them.


Being successful… is personal. For me success is loving your job and I absolutely love what I do.


Good photojournalism… should be real — never fake a story or fake reality. Your job as a photojournalist is to document the truth and be fair to both sides of the story.


The age of the DSLR… has made a lot of professional photographers angry because they think it’s saturating our market. I disagree. I think it’s great because it makes photography more accessible. More people can share the experience and joy of photography.


Lighting… is where you create your mood to your image. It’s an element of photography often overlooked by professional photographers. A key part of your personal style is how you see and capture light.


Working with other photographers… is fantastic. I love being pushed by my colleagues and I love sharing ideas and techniques.


Photo Face-Off... was a one-of-a-kind experience. I never thought my ugly face would make it on TV. It was loads of fun being part of a reality show about photography and I met some talented young photographers all over Southeast Asia. I'm hoping for a second season.


Doing assignments for the New York Times… is in my opinion the pinnacle of photojournalism. It’s been an honour and a dream since I was at university.


The work I am most proud of is… probably my personal work on Agent Orange victims because I’ve seen it have a direct impact on people.


Being featured on the BBC… was a huge surprise. I respect their level of journalism and they have such huge reach globally. I hope I represented Vietnam fairly in my images.


Images say more than words… because if they are done properly, they are emblazoned in someone’s mind. If you can provoke an emotion with your images, people will remember them.


If there was one thing I could change about the world of photography… I would tell people to stop following the rules of photography. Sure, a basic understanding of the technical side of photography is imperative, but once you grasp that you must learn to break the rules and discover your own personal style. If you follow all the rules you will just shoot like every other person out there and what fun is that.


My ultimate goal is… to keep growing my brand Mott Visuals, and to keep growing and improving personally as a visual storyteller.


Photo Face-Off is presently showing on History Channel Asia —

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