Mads Nissen

Copenhagen, Denmark

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Danish, b. 1979

Mads sees his photography as being all about empathy - an attempt to create understanding, an intimacy and closeness to his subject. He strives to build that connection while focusing on contemporary issues like inequality, human rights and our destructive relationship with nature.

After graduating from the Danish School of Journalism in 2007 he moved to Shanghai to document the human and social consequences of China's breakneck economic development. Mads currently works for the Danish newspaper Politiken while pursuing his long-term projects alongside his regular work.

In 2015 his image of Jon and Alex, a young gay couple of Russia, was selected as the World Press Photo of the Year. Mads has also taken part in the Joop Swart masterclass programme and his work has been awarded with dozens of prizes including the World Press Photo and the Pictures of the Year International (POYi).

He regularly works for international clients such as TIME, Newsweek, Stern, Der Spiegel, GEO, the Guardian, Sunday Times and Internationale as well as numerous NGOs like Medecins sans Frontières (MSF), CARE and Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Originally assigned by The Nobel Peace Center to photograph President Santos, a nominee and ultimate winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the civil war in Colombia, Mads expanded the project and included important aspects such as the FARC guerilla camps, cocaine production and land mines as well as the downward spiral of displacement, extreme poverty and deadly violence throughout the country. This work came together as a book in 2018 - We are Indestructible - published by GOST. His other photo books are AMAZONAS (2013, Gyldendal) and The Fallen (2010, Peoples Press).

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Click here for a brief overview of Mads Nissen's work.

When South Sudan declared independence in 2011 after decades of civil war with the North, the outlook was bright for the new nation of around 10 and a half million with large reserves of oil.

After more than half a century of war, one of the world’s longest civil wars seems to be coming to and end with a historic agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC rebels.

In the November 2014, Panos photographer Mads Nissen and his colleague Jacob Svendsen from the Danish newspaper Politiken travelled to Sierra Leone to document the ongoing Ebola emergency that was to claim almost 4,000 lives in the West African country.

An agreement between the EU and Turkey in March 2016 stipulated that any migrants or refugees arriving from Turkey in Greece would be sent back to Turkey if they didn’t apply for asylum in Greece or if their claim was rejected.

Colombia’s civil war, a deadly 52 year long national ordeal that left over 200,000 dead and displaced another 5 to 6 million from their homes, finally looks like it might be drawing to a close.

Sierra Leone is set to overtake Liberia as the country worst affected by the worst outbreak of Ebola on record.

A Danish woman’s extraordinary quest to save the life of a Nepalese orphan.

The conflict in Libya – Mads Nissen’s extensive coverage over the first weeks of the war~~Mads Nissen went to Libya in the very first week of the unfolding uprising that soon turned into full scale civil war, bringing thousands of haphazardly armed volunteer fighters onto the streets of Libya’s cities, determined to bring Muammar Gaddafi’s seemingly interminable rule to an end.

Scattered over some 7000 islands, the Philippines is experiencing a surge in population.

As the only place in the People’s Republic of China where gambling is officially legal, Macau straddles the divide between Socialist austerity and capitalist decadence~~ The islands of Hong Kong and Macau given back to China by Great Britain and Portugal in 1997 and 1999 respectively are two places where Chinese are permitted, nay encouraged, to indulge in two activities that are otherwise frowned upon on the mainland: making money and gambling.

The former Soviet republic of Moldova is struggling to shed the vestiges of decades of communist neglect~~Once one of the richest republics in the Soviet Union, Moldova, historically known as Bessarabia, is now officially the poorest country in Europe according to the World Bank.

Over 1,000 women die in childbirth every day around the world.

Niger has the highest fertility rate in the world.

Having covered the Libyan revolution in 2011 as it unfolded, Mads Nissen went back to the scenes of some of the most intense fighting to see what had changed.

Nine years on from the signing of a peace treaty that officially ended the most deadly war since World War II in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country continues to struggle with corruption, lawlessness and poverty.

Since his first visit when he was 19 years old, Mads has been fascinated with the Amazon.

A new law in Russia prohibits ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations’ among minors and imposes hefty fines and prison sentences on both locals and foreigners for any infringement, both in person and online.

West Lake Restaurant near Changsha in China’s Hunan province takes the idea of a Chinese restaurant to the next level.

As the conflict in Syria continues, 2,000,000 people have now been forced to flee their homes.

Mads Nissen visits the seminal sites in the life of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street trader who self-immolated in protest at his government, and the revolution which he sparked.

After months of street protests and violent clashes between protesters and security forces, Ukrainians are stunned to find their country on the brink of a cataclysmic breakup a mere 23 years into nationhood.

Following the toppling of Viktor Yanukovych after months of protests, Ukraine is now facing an uncertain future with various regions, most openly Crimea, agitating to secede from the country to join Russia.

Global warming and a new rush for the Arctic’s hidden resources has made Greenland, still officially a part of tiny Denmark, one of the new frontiers in global geopolitics~~With a surface area of 2,166,086 square kilometres, three quarters of which is permanently covered by an ice sheet, and a population of just 57,000, Greenland would seem like a cold, distant and insignificant appendage, anachronistically linked to the Kingdom of Denmark.

On 17 February 2011, Libya saw the beginnings of a violent insurrection against the regime of Muammar Gadaffi~~ Following the departure of Tunisia’s strongman Zine El Abedine Ben Ali in early January and the drawn-out showdown between President Mubarak and anti-government protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, on 17 February 2011 it was Libya’s turn.

With over 30,000 pregnancies on its score sheet, Cryos International, a sperm bank based in Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, is a veritable fertility factory, supplying clinics in more than 70 countries around the world.