Just before the snows came, we were able to take advantage of the beautiful Autumn coloring at one of my favorite locations in Espoo.
I am booking up quicker this year for Autumn sessions. I have limited availability on weekends and I’m completely booked from October 15 through November 15 for Christmas sessions. If you’d like an Autumn session in Finland, I recommend booking as soon as possible to ensure better choices for dates/times.
One of my favorite locations to shoot is an apple orchard. I love the neat rows of trees lined up perfectly for interesting compositions and angles. They provide such a dramatic backdrop for my subjects: that little extra that turns a boring picture into something interesting and dynamic.
Photography is, and will always be, very hard work for the professional photographer. It’s not about coming to a location, bringing a big fancy camera, and clicking a shutter. Angles, lines, composition, and especially light (angle, intensity, and color) all have to be weighed and compromises made to capitalize on the best assets and downplay the negatives.
When I go to any location, I first have to analyze the light direction. For an apple orchard, which can only be shot in one of two angles for the majority of the session, I have to make sure the shoot is scheduled for the most optimal time of day. As an example, if I am shooting a North-South oriented orchard field, I can only shoot it very late in the day or very early in the morning. But an East-West field can be shot with much greater opportunity since I can put the light behind or in front of my subjects. All that goes out the window, though, if it is an overcast day. Then I have to put into a new set of considerations in order to prevent harsh shadows of the face and ‘raccoon’ eyes. Also, the amount of foliage also greatly change what I can and cannot shoot: Summer may provide more opportunities with light but also more challenges (green color casts). Spring brings blossoms but few leaves to block the light. Autumn colors are vibrant but the trees can be very dense and the early dead branches need to be avoided.
Once the light is assessed, then I have to decide the best camera settings (aperture, shutter, ISO, lens) to make sure I have enough light on my subject and the surrounding area doesn’t distract or overpower my subject. The lens must enhance the subject but also do appropriate things to the background. A more amateur photographer will most likely have a lot of closeups of the face and be unable to balance the background to the subject. But the professional knows how to provide session variety: closeups, full body, relationship, thoughtful, happy, moments, connection, etc. Very often, the difference between a mediocre shot and an amazing image comes down to where the photographer stood when the shot was taken. Tw0 steps either direction can make or break an image.
Reading a location is a skill set very few photographers possess – it takes time and training to really understand how to find the very best pockets in any location: the confluence of light, background, and moment. It’s one of my greatest strengths and one I proudly bring to every shoot. After all, anyone can shoot a family sitting in the grass in the middle of a park. But at one point, a client should always ask: is my family really that generic and boring that I want to be photographed that way?
And finally, when the images are taken off the camera, post processing becomes critical. Proper color is especially a hurdle for many newer photographers. As well, decisions on mitigation ofenvironmental issues I could not change (ever wish you could move a tree?) and enhancing those that made that area unique need to be assessed with a critical and object eye. For my imagery, the focus (light) is always on the subject. The art of processing is knowing how to ensure that always is the final result of an image with the Ajaton Joki name on them.
I feel that every person is unique and distinct: photographing them in the place where they live, allowing all the factors that helped to grow and define them as a person, are just as important in the story of their life. And that’s what photography really is: the story of a wonderful life, one moment at a time.
Here is the story of a beautiful and serious young lady at the apple orchard where she grew up. This was a later day sunset shoot really playing with the gorgeous light and color at that time of the day. In only a few days, these trees would be picked bare for the harvest: the apple she is holding made into the sweet tasting jellies and jams the children in the area will enjoy for months to come in lunches and as afternoon treats.
She will likely draw many references to a certain Harry Potter heroine, but this young lady has a loveliness all her own. This shoot was taken mid day in full sun – a challenge for a fair haired girl in black. But even in late Autumn, when all the leaves have fallen, a photographer can use the light reflecting off a large river to her advantage to really showcase the sweet beauty of a lovely young woman.
Those versed in American history will be familiar with President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in the 1930s. They were American’s responses to the Great Depression and focused on what historians call the “3 Rs”: relief, recovery and reform. Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.
St Louis, Missouri received quite a few grants during this period from the New Deal initiatives. Of course, not all the products of that time would end up surviving to the fin de siècle; certainly many were important for employment only during those tough years and not needed as America found its prosperity again.
The location for this shoot was what remained of one of those programs. Situated along the Missouri River, not far from the starting point of the Louis and Clark Expedition, the site had several fascinating ruins that, although not terribly old, still retained quite a bit of character. The architecture’s original purposes may have become obsolete but they still remain an important and preserved part of US history.
The raison of the shoot was to create glamour shots for a personal fitness trainer to celebrate her triumph over life’s hardships. Jelena grew up in war but eventually found peace when she was able to emigrate to America from Europe. It was fitting that her spirit echoed those of the original builders of the ruins – that even in times of diversity, determination and strength can create beauty.
Jelena may not be a model but there is no doubt she is every inch a beauty.
We had to wait in the car until the storm passed – but definitely worth it after the sun came out in full effect. Autumn always brings showers in Finland and I admit I welcome them. There’s a reason why movie set decorators water down the streets before a shoot – all those spectral highlights, reflections, and especially rich bokeh that comes from water can make an image rich and lush.
This shoot was all about using a longer focal length lens to let background compression retain the far background in the bokeh or to overcome height issues due to the perfect spot being atop a large mound. We had only a few minutes here before the sun disappeared and rain threatened again. But oh how I love the color and feel of Autumn in Finland.
These were all shot with natural light and no reflectors or modifiers. The light was just so sweet at this particular moment and I am so grateful for the time I spent learning how to read that light and shoot it to its best.
And how could I resist a portrait from the reflections in a puddle.
These two sisters and their parents were such troopers! It was cold, wet, and there were no amenities anywhere nearby. They even drove from across Helsinki, only to have the rain start and cut the session short. Thank you for persevering! Here’s a sneak peek from the 30 minutes we did get – I hope you like them!
It was a bit wet from all the rain in the night – but what a beautiful and bright morning. Images from when photographers meet up.
We were on vacation in the Mikkeli area most of the week and dropped in to Heinola area for lunch on the trip up. It’s one of my favorite cities – rural but with so much history. I especially love the ancient oak lined esplanade along the central lake area.
First, the black and whites. Most were taken in the rain – long before the sun peeked out later in the day.
The train trestle – a site every Heinola resident knows well.
And later, the sun finally came out for us. These are at an area where a river turns into fast rapids.
And, of course, all that glorious fall color
This was under a train trestle – the new route linking Lahti to Helsinki. There was the most exquisite light down there.
And now, back to proofing last week’s sessions!