JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
MIKE TSENTI: When I was much younger I wanted to be a lego brick maker. I want to make the bricks that came together to build whatever my imagination wanted to make. I think this was an early start to my creativity. As I got older I started to head towards wanting to write for magazines. I then started shooting when i was about 14/15 and that made me want to start focusing on photography and try to mix it in with writing.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
MT: At the moment I am very influenced by film effects. This is something I always like to use with my photography but I have not had the time recently to get film developed so I have been working with giving my images a vintage clean feel using simple Photoshop techniques. I am always inspired by articles I see from Time Magazine and it really inspires me to want to travel and photograph my experiences.
JC: What are you up to right now?
MT: Right now I am currently working on a project focusing on the blending of nature and the human identity. It’s a subject I’ve been into the idea of human identity and taking it away ever since I left college so really I’m experimenting with new ideas on that.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
MT: I have not really had much help with what I want to do with my photography. I had some University teachers assist me but they never really helped me define how I wanted to approach my photography and I felt a little let down by them when I was trying to explain ideas that were shrugged off for not being commercial enough. I would say my dad has been my biggest mentor as he was the first person to introduce me to photography and is still giving me tips to this date.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
MT: I am currently based in North London and although it is not a great area for creativity Central London is only about 30 minutes away by tube so it’s not an issue. As I am currently just working on my own ideas it’s a relaxing environment to help me think about ideas and plan. I plan to try and move to the US or Canada in the next few years to try to improve my career prospects.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
MT: It sounds silly but don’t be extremely optimistic when you graduate. It’s an extremely tough business and you will have to work hard when you finish. I was very optimistic when I finished and it disheartened me a lot when reality hit. But do some free work, internships or photography jobs, and the experience will take you places!
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
MT: My plan A is to get working for a magazine or creative company as a picture editor. My plan B is to simply work and get enough money to fund myself and as I said previously, travel around the world and photograph my experiences and try to really capture what is going on in the world, not holiday snaps.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
MT: It is very important to be a part of a creative community. Here in Barnet (where I live) it is very hard to find creativity as most of my friends are not from creative backgrounds but I have stayed in contact with some friends from University so it’s nice to talk to them about creativity. It keeps the juices flowing and ensures I do not get lazy and sit around all day.