“What is this?” “Where was this taken?” people sometimes ask when they look at my photos. And I feel torn. Should I tell them or not? If I do, will it ruin the experience for them or will it provide necessary additional information? Mostly I feel that I shouldn’t. When I was going through my photos for last summer’s exhibition, a good friend told me not to reveal too much of the photos. The theme was ‘moment before sunset’ and her point was that if there is someone admiring my sunset image and it brings good memories into her mind about something in her own life, she does not want to read in the description something about that sea being one of the most polluted seas in the world. In that case the purpose of the photos is to evoke feelings, not to convey information.
There is going to be next year’s Wildlife Photographer of the year deadline soon. I find myself pondering about the difference between photojournalism and fine art photography, trying to find my place in those genres. I guess I’m leaning quite heavily on the fine art side. Which makes me wonder how much the jury values fine art photos in comparison to the ones that portray the subject truthfully and in great detail. Be it as it may, I will pitch in and I will do my best in what I feel that my niche is – creating feelings and engaging imagination. Just to give you an example, in my own work I don’t think that pictures need to be focused. Blurred images sometimes have much more feeling that the focused ones as the tones then become softer and dreamier. Both in my own work as well as in others’ I mostly enjoy the opportunity to imagine what the story in the picture might be and not knowing the answer I enjoy making up my own story as I look at it. Similarly, of the feedback that I get, I mostly enjoy the ones where people explain to me what they see in the image and what it means to them. And when there are many different stories for the same image, that is for me the most precious image of them all. That has happened for example with the portrait Shadowed Woman. People have very different interpretations of it. It seems that we want to reflect our own thoughts from the art work we see, and it is very little you need to do to change the image in order to change the story for the viewer, sometimes just cropping it differently makes the image convey a completely different story.
Our lives today are flooded with images. An image is such a powerful tool to convey both information and emotions that I see for example my students relying more and more on the nonverbal input when given material to study. Sometimes I find myself wondering if the importance of words is diminishing because sometimes people don’t seem to be bothered to read the text, they just look at the pictures. It’s really easy today to take a snapshot and upload it in the stream: ‘here’s my lunch’ ‘here’s my transport’ ‘there are the people I hang out with’ and ‘this is my house’. Text is being replaced by images and when people have something to say, they just post a picture rather than words and soon the stream is flooded with images. And when the pictures flood you, do you take the time to really see them or do they just run down the stream with the flow? How many of us see it as just a stream of information and do not take time to think about the story in the image? And those of us who do like to stay with the image a bit longer and get to know it better, can we find it in ourselves to appreciated simple things are do we just crave for more and more – flashier and more grandeur? As for myself, I’ve based on my work on the idea that I don’t do any post-processing and I don’t use any artificial light sources, and it does make it a bit difficult to compete with the retouched images as far as being flashy and grandeur is concerned. Wildlife Photographer of the year competition is the only competition I take part in, last year I made it to the semifinal. It is going to be exciting to see how I do this year. If there is anyone willing to help me decide which images to include, I will truly appreciate all the comments that you want to leave me in any of my sites. The photos have to be nature photos and taken in Finland in the year 2011, all that information you can find for example in my Flickr stream. All the photos that haven’t been marked on the map have been taken in Finland.
For me photography does not mean comparing my images to those of others, I have a strong vision of what I want to do and I will continue doing that no matter how well I do in a competition. It does not seem to be a choice either, going out with my camera is a necessity for me and I enjoy it enormously. This last image I took today in the wetlands standing in the middle of a swamp. I managed to find a spot for both feet, quite far apart though, and had to come down for a semi-crouch to get the right angle. In the middle of finding the right time and angle, I realized that it would be fun to create a monet-like effect in the image by kicking the water in order to make waves. In contrary to the way I normally think about pictures and words, this time I’m truly happy there isn’t an image to tell you this story and how it ended, but I do hope these words tell you why I love photography.