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Kimmo Ojaniemi

19 November 2021

Kimmo Ojaniemi is a visual artist who has a photographic style that lies between the realms of the real and the surreal. His work conists mainly of murky greens and browns that feature foggy landscapes, interspersed with the odd city related capture.

What is your backstory?

I've worked as a freelance professional artist ever since I graduated from art school in 1986. I graduated as a painter, but for about half of my career, I've worked in the fields of sculptures and kinetic installations. I've needed (and used) a camera during this time, but I exhibited my photos for the first time only a few years ago. For a short period of time, I also worked as a photographer for an agency.

In addition to my work in the arts, I have taught and lectured occasionally and have done a bit of layout and web design work.

Captain says no

How did you first start out in photography?

My dad and his medium format camera introduced me to photography. By about the age of eleven, I also developed photographs for the first time. In high school when I was 17-18 years old, I worked on vacations as a journalist and got my first SLR camera. Since then, I have always had a camera with me, Practica, Konica, Minolta, Ricoh, Nikon etc.

My first digital camera was the Kodak DC20 in 1997, and after that dozens of digital pocket cameras since that. Unfortunately their image quality was not good enough for promotional photography of paintings and sculptures, and definitely not for art photography. In the late 90s and early 2000s, I took photos mostly on slides and scanned them right away. I did that until good DSLR cameras started to get cheaper. The first camera ever, I was completely happy with, was the Nikon D800 and this current one, the D850 is even much better. When a camera is so great, you can't explain bad pictures with anything but your lack of skills, which leads you to study and learn something new.

Home of Conrad Bitz

Where do you draw inspiration from?

To get in the right mood, I want to be alone and undisturbed. Concentration is very important in my way of working with the camera and it's easiest during night and dusk, when others are sleeping. Shooting in the dark fascinates me also, because it's technically quite challenging.

My recent photos are somehow similar to the landscape guashes I painted as teen, before art school. They are a bit like scenes or stages where I can place dramas and events with characters from my imagination. That's a personal way to take over the whole process, kind of a method. It starts while shooting and continues until the picture is edited and completed. It makes me glad if others can find stories that I have imagined, or otherwise, in my photos.

To encounter even humans

What subjects do you like to shoot?

Earlier on, I've photographed people and animals, especially birds I like, because it's so damned difficult. I also like landscapes, they are mostly peaceful. If there happen to be people I wait until they've left the scene.

Waiting for the suitable weather, lighting and other conditions are the keys to the whole thing for me and that's why I only need a camera and a sturdy tripod. Flash or other artificial lighting arrangements I use rarely.

Are you an impulsive or planned shooter?

I am both, I think. I carefully study the weather forecasts, the orbits of the moon and the sun on a daily basis, and when suitable situations are in place, I start looking for suitable places on the maps to put the ideas into practice. On the other hand, nature, i.e. wind, rain and my favorite, fog, offer challenging situations where you have to be fast as a paparazzo. I might also go out to shoot if I happen to wake up in the middle of the night and notice that it's snowing or there is thick fog outside, that's impulsivity, isn't it.

120th birthday

How do you achieve the look in your photos?

I try to do the final framing while shooting, and usually that's enough. I take as few pictures as possible, maybe subconsciously still trying to save the film. I shoot RAW, and I use Nikon's RAW-editing program, and the final editing I'll do with Corell's PhotoPaint, which I have used since 1997 (version 13 was the best). I don't hesitate from removing distracting factors like traffic signs, graffiti, or ugly high voltage power lines.

What advice would you have for people getting into photography?

For me, the camera and photography are tools for making art and in the artistic process it's necessary to properly know your tools to achieve your aspirations. The best way to have fun with the camera depends on yourself and your passions. Not all photography needs to be art; for some photographers, the most important thing is to record the environment or events, and such documents can be stunningly beautiful or emotionally influential, no matter why or for what purpose the photo was taken. In any case, the most important thing is to go your own way.

Penelope arrives to bring the microfilms

What are your thoughts on Instagram as a photography platform?

Depending on what is most profitable for Instagram itself at any given time, it will make it more difficult or easier for its users to spread their message. Algorithms are like spies within a totalitarian state, they make accurate reports about every citizen, and the artificial intelligence that acts as the chief decides what to do for each citizen, the big brother scenario kind of comes true. While this is the reality, Instagram is very entertaining, and very useful too for a professional artist as an advertising channel because the potential audience is wide in all age and income groups. As an artist's portfolio however, it is ill-suited. The photos are too tiny and much too compressed and there is not any option to sort them.

Agent eats Tuq biscuits

What are some of your hobbies outside of photography?

History of cultures, old books, old tools, genealogy, writing and reading.

Thank you for speaking to us Kimmo. Any final words?

Many thanks to you for the platform to share my work.

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