Our ‘Discover’ series highlights distinct up-and-coming photographers on 500px, sharing their experiences from behind the lens. In this instalment, we’re featuring Elnaz Mansouri, a Canadian photographer whose art is rooted in her experience as an immigrant.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself as a photographer—how did you get started?

A: I was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to Canada with my family in 2003. As a young girl on the verge of turning into a teenager, I began facing an identity crisis due to the language barrier that I experienced in my daily life, and struggled to find the meaning of “home.” Being disconnected from my native culture and unable to communicate socially, I started looking for an alternative way to reconnect with my surroundings. The best option was capturing the Canadian landscape through photography.

My passion for the visual arts became a profession after I graduated from OCAD University with a BFA in photography in 2013, and since, then my work has been published on platforms like National Geographic and Canadian Geographic. Nature is a mirror to my identity, and I continuously build upon my definition of “home” through observing and reflecting in the landscape.

Fall On Me by Elnaz Mansouri on 500px.com

Q: How would you describe where you are now compared to five years ago?

A: Five years ago, I had just graduated from art school with high hopes about my degree and feeling confident that the hard part of my life was over. As I think back on my photography skills and vision compared to now, I feel my artistic work has found its own style and approach, which is very important if you want to succeed in this medium. Everyone can take pictures these days thanks to high-tech smartphones and cameras, but it’s the vision and the voice, the “why”s and “how”s that matter and make you stand out as an artist.

Winter Wonderland In Alberta by Elnaz Mansouri on 500px.com

Q: What tools have you used to develop your skills?

A: Although my initial medium was photography, I have not limited myself to experimenting with other tools to create a visual narrative. Working with drone technology to create aerial documentary videos from different parts of the world, as well as using 360-degree cameras to create virtual reality content, has allowed me to explore various media and tools and integrate them in my artistic practices.

Winter Wonderland In Banff, Alberta by Elnaz Mansouri on 500px.com

Q: You have a great personal brand—did this come naturally to you or did you spend consciously develop it over the years?

A: I feel the image I have created is rooted in my struggle to find a new identity for myself as an immigrant, but it’s the passion and effort that I invested in photography for the last decade that has shaped my brand as well.

Q: Any advice for younger photographers looking to build their own personal brand?

A: Being true to yourself and finding what matters to you is the most important thing in building your brand. Try to find inspiration from other artists, but never try to be their replica. Be open to new mediums and techniques, because it can help you express your vision in a more effective way.

Lucid Dreaming At Emerald Lake by Elnaz Mansouri on 500px.com

Q: How has 500px helped you as a photographer?

A: 500px has been an amazing platform in helping me find inspiration from great photographers around the world and improving my technical skills by reading tutorials and photography tips on the 500px Blog.

Unzipped Toronto by Elnaz Mansouri on 500px.com

Q: How do you use 500px to market yourself?

A: I have used 500px Licensing to sell my photographs, and I also use my gallery as an online portfolio for promoting my brand.

Q: What’s your experience been like with licensing your photos on 500px? What have you learned from the experience?

A: I have learned that the photographs I submit for Licensing require a high standard in terms of technical aspects, which inspires me to make higher-quality photos.

Follow Elnaz Mansouri

500px: 500px.com/elnazmansouri
Instagram: @elnaz555

Midnight Fantasies by Elnaz Mansouri on 500px.com