For me it’s always been the person I’m photographing. Not the photograph itself. I know there’s a bunch of technical stuff I need to master in order to make a great photo. But the content in the picture, that’s what really makes it.
”Smile is just an expression”.
It’s something I overheard as a joke when I was spending time with my colleagues. As cynical as it may sound, it’s true. In most cases a smile makes a person more beautiful. But the beauty of a smile is in the content it has. If you get a smile - a real one that is - from a person, it gives you a signal that you’re on the right track. If you get a smile from a person you find attractive, it explodes the little fireworks in your stomach. If you get a smile from a person you’re trying to impress, it’s a sign of acceptance. Whenever I get a smile from my daughter, I feel ”there’s a reason why” (a quote from Europe: New Love in Town).
Oh, and we all know a fake smile when we see one. There’s nothing beautiful in that.
I don’t necessarily want to capture the ”obviously beautiful” moment. There’s so much in the delicate little expressions that anyone does, when they’re simply being themselves. There’s so much beauty in everything anyone does or is.
The challenge being a photographer is to see those ”real” moments. A lot of times there’s no way of telling if the expressions are real or if they’re something that comes out just because of the camera.
Time is the enemy.
If I’m given 30 minutes to take a photo of someone, there’s a good chance it’ll be a ”technical portrait”. Nice lighting, a look into the camera. Who knows, may be we even manage to get an expression that ”looks like the person”. But there’s no way of telling. That’s why I prefer spending at least an hour making a simple portrait of a person. It includes a cup of coffee (we make a killer coffee at our studio btw, it’s freshly roasted and I know how to brew it!) and a lot of chatting. The objective is to get to know each other even just a bit. In order to know what’s real.
Me & my cameras at 22-Pistepirkko’s studio
Last week I got a chance to hang around with my cameras at 22-Pistepirkko’s studio while they’re working on their new album. The original idea was to take a portrait of Asko, but on top of that I ended up taking a lot of documentary photos during the day. What I love about musicians is that once they get to be with their instrument they relax. And that’s when you get the good shots. Oh, and we did start this photoshoot with a pot of coffee I made. I took a small bag of fresh coffee with me.
We got some nice look-into-the-camera-portraits, but for me in this case, the beauty was in the moments when ”the spotlights were turned off”.
What do you think?
Lari Järnefelt is near 40-year-old photographer based in Helsinki, Finland. His emphasis is on photographing portraits - both traditional and non-traditional - but anything that makes an image is a challenge he likes. Contact for more information, rates and schedule.