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q&a with jesper nielsen

Image courtesy of Jesper Nielson

Image courtesy of Jesper Nielson

Jesper Nielson is a photographer hailing from Denmark who has started a photography project in the hopes of raising awareness about the increasing prevalence of domestic violence in Australia.  He is currently working  hair and make-up artist Natalie Burley,  who specialises in creating injuries for film and television, in shooting some confronting images of women who look like they have been abused. With such a sensitive subject being exposed in such an in-your-face way, Nielson’s project is sure to raise a few eyebrows, yet he’s hoping that his images will stir up more than just shock, but also action from the people and the government.

I had a quick chat with Nielson about his work, which can you find more of by heading here.

Tell me first a bit about your background. How did you get started as a photographer and why do you enjoy the work?

My career began in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I worked at the Influential Schiller & Co photographic/film studios.

An amalgamation of experiences soon led me to the opportunity to work in Melbourne, Australia. Here, I embarked on a career as a freelance advertising photographer (

My passion for photography has given me the good fortune to work both nationally and internationally and the additional opportunity of meeting amazing people.

What first inspired you to start this project on domestic violence?

I was first inspired to start a project portraying the harrowing images of domestic violence, after reading an article about the staggering number of deaths every year, because of this violent crime.

The ABC news article explained that ‘domestic violence was the leading cause of death and injury for women under 45 years of age’.  Domestic violence accounts for 2 deaths per week, 40 per cent of police time and at the cost of 13.6 billion to the Australian economy per year.

From my perspective, I feel we all need take a stand and raise awareness of the issue of domestic violence in Australia.

What has been the biggest challenge in pursuing this project and why?

It is fantastic that Lip magazine is putting a spotlight on important issues such as domestic violence. My challenge will be finding the right avenues and a variety of mediums to have my photos of domestic violence published. The more exposure the images are given the more I hope to get people thinking about this issue.  In addition, I will feel I am making a small contribution to our society by further highlighting this topical issue.

Why do you think it’s important to raise awareness and what do you think your project brings to the table?

Domestic violence is an issue of concern for all Australians. I am hoping that by increasing awareness of this issue the government will take the appropriate measures and resources to support and protect Australia’s women and children. Photos help to raise awareness of topical issues and often convey a message in a more powerful way than words can.

What do you hope people who see your work think and feel about domestic violence?

I hope that when people see my images they feel compelled to make a difference and have a voice on this issue. I hope the photos make people stop and read information about this violent crime and in turn empower them to make others aware of it, so they too can take action.

Are you planning on showcasing your work somewhere such as an art gallery, in an ad, online?

Currently, my images are showcased on my website. However, my plan is to approach government and not-for-profit organisations which raise awareness of domestic violence.  Ideally, if the images were used through various forms of social media; this would also be helpful to capture a broad audience.

What are your plans for the future of this project or for your work in general?

Future plans for this project would include producing more images capturing the severity and reality of domestic violence and possibly a short video clip.  I plan to continue collaborating on these particular projects with special effects makeup artist, Natalie Burley.

With regards to my advertising work I will continue to produce work of integrity that best articulates creative ideas.  I love what I do and hopefully I can continue making a living from photography for many years to come.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, from my perspective we all have strengths or skills that we can share to make a small contribution for the betterment of others. I have chosen to use my creative skills to convey images that I hope will create an emotional response in those that see them; to raise awareness of the significant, social issue of domestic violence in Australia.

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