On Influence

Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Mouth of the River, 2014

Today I felt like writing a post on my personal influences. At the time I am mainly focused on my personal project, so you can figure that my main influences are portrait photographers. I made a post a while ago, on “The Helsinki Bus Station Theory” and how I came across the work of Arno Minkkinen. Long story short, a couple of years ago I suffered from what’s called “photographer’s block”, started digging some books and came across “The Helsinki Bus Station Theory”. I googled it and boom; Minkkinen’s name popped out and literally opened new ways of perceiving photography.

Arno Rafael Minkkinen, King of Fosters Pond, 2013

Up to this day Minkkinen has been my main influence, mainly because of the way he works, for three main reasons: Selfportraits, Single Negatives and Street Photography. Let me explain…

Selfportraits: Many photographs are difficult to make. It’s not always easy to explain to somebody what you already have in mind. Some of those photographs may even be dangerous, though I have not made such photographs yet. We control our vision and how much we can tolerate; such information is unknowable by anyone else. Also, when you title your photographs selfportraits, the viewer knows who is in the photograph and who took it. At the time being most of my photographs are selfportraits.

Single negatives: This means as little manipulation as possible, no double exposures, no overlapping negatives (digital negatives as far as I am concerned), minimal use of Photoshop and so on. What you see happening in the frame of the image happened inside the viewfinder of the camera. In Minkkinen’s words: “What Happens Inside Your Mind, Can Happen Inside A Camera”.

Street Photography: Work the way a documentary photographer works. If you are going to be under the snow, be under the snow. If you are going to be in the water, be in the water. You have to embrace reality as a collaborator in the invention of the image and not rely on software to create such impressions. The photographs will always print with the same information as found in them the day they were made.

The last two reasons particularly stroke me, as street photography was my main “thing” at the time. All these information and many more can be found in Arno Minkkinen’s website in a section titled “How to work the way I work”. Go check it out.

P.S. Lately, I also came across a video on Youtube, something like a tribute on the works of Arno Minkkinen, which triggered the whole idea of writing today’s post. It’s only a few minutes, so check it out, too.