Monday, 9 April 2012

An interview with Kenneth Lehtinen

Recently I was lucky enough to interview Kenneth Lehtinen, a photographer who I was introduced to by a friend some time ago...

Firstly thanks very much for agreeing to answering a few of my questions Kenneth. As you already know I'm a big fan of your work and I would also like to say how approachable I have found you no matter how busy you've been...It's a quality I admire in people!

©Kenneth Lehtinen 2012

Can you start of by telling me a bit about yourself and your background...

I´m Freelance photographer based in Helsinki, and I have degrees in Psychology and Photography. Capturing emotions and reflections of human personality is something I want so see in my photos.

When was it you first picked-up a camera and knew this was for you?

I acquired a small compact camera in 2004. The start wasn´t very promising but the freedom and the peace of mind photography gave me was something special. In 2006 I really started to work on my photography skills and read magazines and books. The pictures started to transform from snapshots to photographs. That was the moment that I knew this was for me.

It´s a everyday struggle to get better and to be more and more diverse photographer. It´s also a challenge not to be caught up in the routines and to challenge yourself and step out of the box. It´s all about the journey, not about the final destination.

Digital or film and why?

Coming from a purely digital background, film and its strengths are interesting and something I want to explore as a hobbyist, but not as a professional. I like to use all sorts of platforms of photography starting from mobile phone cameras. Day to day professional work is 100% digital, the world doesn´t want to wait and to be honest neither do I. Shoot, edit, deliver and bill the client.

Who inspires you?

That´s a challenging question to answer. Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Pentti Sammallahti, Richard Avedon and Joe Mcnally, to name a few. Joe is an everyday hero of mine, he has the skills to turn even the most modest environment in to an interesting and a well lit place. This is partially a reflection to Finnish photographers who complain a lot about the lack of light here up North. Finland is a though place to take photos that is for sure, but it´s also about skills to “make the shot”.

Minkkinen, Sammallahti and Avedon are true artist as photographers are concerned. I don´t see much of their work in mine but their skills and mastery what they do (and did) is something that leaves me breathless and makes me want to do better.

It´s also inspiring to see fellow photographers getting better and advancing their photographic skills. 

What changes have you seen since you first started working is this field and what would you like to see more or less of?

First of all, photography seems to get more and more about the tech and gear, not about vision and creativity. Sure gear matters, but its just circuit boards and plastics that are needed to capture photos. I want so see more emphasis in books and camera magazines about creativity, not news about the latest “Expeed Processor that makes your pictures stand out”.

Secondly, it’s the working field in photography. Commissions are getting smaller and the working terms are becoming to be unacceptable. Big newspapers are demanding full rights of your photos with minimal fee. At the same time photographers have to take full responsibility where their photos are used, even if the newspaper fully decide where they sell the photos without consulting the photographer.

Also the quality of the photos doesn´t seem to matter anymore, readers take photos for newspaper with mobile phones for a change to win movie tickets. This is the case with tabloid magazines and yellow papers, real photographers aren´t really needed there.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work within the field of gig photography?

Patience is the key. Know your gear and have a deep understanding of light and post processing.
When you get those sorted you have to know the artist what they do and how they act.

Gig photography is pretty popular these days. So be polite to other photographers and make sure you give them space to work, too. In a small country like Finland people tend to remember if your manners aren´t as they should be.

Last but not least. Fans and bands go first. Don´t ruin the fans night with your photography, so try to be out of the way as much as you can, so people can enjoy the show. They paid for their tickets.

©Kenneth Lehtinen 2012

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I hope to see myself doing more and more educational work teaching and mentoring other photographers along the work I do today. I want to continue writing books and photograph only what really inspires me.  Those gigs I do only to support my family will have to go. This means getting an additional career to photography. Getting those pieces to fit will be a puzzle that I hope I´ve solved in five years time.

Working professionally do you ever wish you only did this as a hobby, or just for the love of it

Yes I do, but luckily I can do it as a hobby aswell when I´m of work. At the moment, most of my leisure time photos seem to end up as professional work later. For example, most photos of my photography books and articles in camera magazines are taken in my leisure time, not when I was working for a client.

If any, what advice would you give to anyone trying to make it as a photographer in 2012.

Build a strong network, be diverse and make sure that every client’s work is your dream account, even when it´s not. Getting things right with your first commission usually means you get another gig too. Be a working man with your clients and a artist at your own time.

I hear a lot of photographers saying that they are looking for that 'one image'. If there was an image that could define you what would it be?

There is that one photograph I want to capture so badly, but hopefully I will never get it. I seem to capture a reflection, piece or part of it, but never that “one perfect shot “ that defines me as a photographer. Getting that shot would mean the end of photography for me.

© Kenneth Lehtinen 2012

What are you working on at the moment?

I´m working on my fourth and fitfh educational photography book. The fourth is a book for the hobbyist out there who want to capture those special everyday moments in their family life. Everything from birth to death and between will covered. I hope to include some basic developmental psychology there as well.

I’m also working with an exhibition of rock photos with the fabulous Mikko Pylkkö, Aku-Axel Muukka, Henri Käck, Petri Vilén, Jussi Eerola and Markus Lehto. We’re going on tour with our work in several major cities in Finland under the name of Live N´ Loud.

Future emphasis in my photography will be in potrait, street photography and abstract works.

© Kenneth Lehtinen 2012

Well thank you so much for agreeing to take time out of your busy work and family life Kenneth! I also hope you don't get that final image as you know already how much I admire your work, as for working in education your students will be very lucky indeed!

You can find details about Kenneth and his work here:-

© Kenneth Lihtinen 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment