Making a rough male portrait - in studio with Wallu Valpio

I've had this idea of a "not pretty" portrait for some time. Last week I wrote about making a photo series to Mika Ikonen for his new single release. This photoshoot was going to be something else.

As I collected the mood board in Pinterest, I got the idea of a smoking man. Not trendy, not good role model, but just right for this photo I had in mind. Also I wanted to leave a lot in the dark. Almost as if more of the photo was beyond what the light would bring to our eyes.

The mood board for this photoshoot.

The mood board for this photoshoot.

As I went through models for this photoshoot in my mind, I quite quickly came up with Mr. Wallu Valpio that I had met previosly at VÄKIVALLANKUMOUSIn my opinion he's got the kind of rough charisma that I wanted in this photo series. With a quick google image search I also noticed that he had no trouble showing his tattoos, which suited this photoshoot perfectly!

I contacted Mr. Valpio via Facebook asking if he'd like to be the model for a rough portrait. His first answer was "Yes" and then he asked, if it was going to be a photo or a painting. I promised that the final product would be a lot more kind to him if it wasn't a painting. So we agreed on a photoshoot at my studio

As it was our first meeting at the studio, we sat down in the upstairs coffee shop/lounge and had a little chat getting to know each other before going downstairs to the studio. It was a typically grey Finnish day, so we got to talk about the pathetic weather. Wallu told me about his flat in Turkey and I have to admit, the thought of a warm summer breeze and sunlight sounded very tempting. 

Wallu showed me some of his tattoos and told me the last one (The Dance of Death) had never been photographed before. 

We looked at the Pinterest board and had some final talk about what we're trying to accomplish. The good news was that Wallu had an electric cigarette looking a bit like a real one with him. The bad news was that the cartridge was empty, so we couldn't get any smoke. (I added some smoke to one of the photos in the post production.)

However, we got to the studio and Wallu was really comfortable in front of the camera. He mentioned that he really liked the way of photographing where he didn't need to "pose" for the camera, but instead he got to be as he felt natural. Finally we got a series of photos that both Wallu and myself were really happy with.

Here's a collection from that series.

Wallu Valpio at the Felt Fotografi studio.

Wallu Valpio at the Felt Fotografi studio.