An interview with a photographer​​

Updated: Jul 7

Translated from Russian. The original version of the interview is here.

 

Introducing to you Klavdia Parkkonen, a photographer from Joensuu. Photo from Klavdia's personal archive.

In this interview, I am going to introduce to you a thoughtful photographer from our town. Her name is Klavdia Parkkonen. I was lucky to meet Klavdia at my own wedding and later to participate in several of her photo projects. I can confidently say that Klavdia is a true professional. It is incredibly easy to work with her. And her photos are astonishing!

 

As usual, I invite to get comfortable and to learn a little bit more about the wisdom of photographer's work

 

  • About Klavdia, photographer's work and how to become one

  • About the secrets to a successful photo shoot and preparations to a photo shoot

  • About the styles in photography and favourite photo shoots

  • About the post-processing of photos, equipment and the future

About Klavdia, photographer's work and how to become one

 

First of all, tell about yourself. When did you start doing photography? How have you come to it?

 

I think my interest in photography has been growing from the very childhood. My mother used to take plenty of photos. She had even equipped her own darkroom for making photos. We still have a huge archive of her works saved.

 

I started taking photography seriously in 2011. At first, there were various courses and self-education. This all happened parallel to my primary job.

In 2013, I happened to find an advertisement in a newspaper, through which I applied to study for a graphic designer at the University of Applied Sciences Karelia. The studies were not directly linked to photography but were connected to the same creative process. The topic of the design was absolutely unknown to me—new programmes, new area. I did enjoy to study. Besides the courses in graphic design, we had courses dedicated to photography.

I travel a lot and participate in various master-classes and workshops. I am really interested in learning something new, some non-standard ways of shooting to achieve the wow-effect in my photos.

Later, I started focusing more and more on photography. I participated in master-classes, studied online and continued to self-educate. I had my first photo shoots at that time. Photography has taken me up as much as my studies and the primary job.

 

Everything happened imperceptibly. At one moment, I had to decide what to do next. In 2017, I have registered as an entrepreneur. At the same time, I have my primary job, which is not connected to photography and graphic design. Nowadays, I focus a lot on photography and put resources into it. I travel a lot and participate in various master-classes and workshops. I am really interested in learning something new, some non-standard ways of shooting to achieve the wow-effect in my photos. I keep developing myself continuously and do not stay in one spot.

 

 

«Wild Souls». Photo from Klavdia's personal archive.

In your opinion, can any person take a camera into their hands and become a good photographer at once?

 

Becoming a good photographer at once will, most likely, not happen. One needs a great motivation to work, a desire to grow and a set of certain skills that only develop with time.

 

The person should have basic knowledge about composition and light, understand how a photo is built and possess technical skills.

Besides, a photographer must have a certain vision. There is a term among creative people, exposure (i.e. experience gained as the result of watching a large number of films and pieces of art). At many workshops in which I participate, a lot of attention is paid to the importance of the photographer's background in art.

 

In my opinion, one does not need to be an artistic person from the very beginning. Artistic skills can be developed. The most important thing is to be motivated and have a passion.

 

Do you follow somebody among photographers? Do you have any favourites?

 

There are people with whom I try to keep up. I began my education in photography at Daria Bulavina's Dark Room School in Moscow. Daria is a professional photographer with many years in business. I took my first steps in the studio and wedding shootings there. Of course, Daria is my idol. She makes all kinds of shoots, and all her works are of a very high level. One can say I have a teacher (laughs).

 

Besides, I follow many photographers around the world. The field is enormous thanks to social media. New people appear all the time, who bring new trends to photography.

 

Photo from Klavdia's personal archive.

 

About the secrets to a successful photo shoot and preparations to a photo shoot

 

What do you think is necessary for a good series of photos?

 

As a rule of thumb, a photo series should show the heroes, the places and its details. This helps to share the atmosphere. For a wedding photo shoot, the organisation plays, therefore, an important role—details, the venue, the atmosphere. These all influence on the photo series that is going to be created after the shooting day is over.

When the atmosphere of the celebration is in the air when you see that the couple shines, you start shining yourself.

When there are gleeful guests at a wedding and when there is movement, I have plenty of chance to shoot cool moments. People's emotions during the celebration are really important to me. Of course, my duty is to catch such moments in any case and to find the maximum beauty in things that are not so beautiful. But if the entire process is thought through and the participants are involved in the celebration, that is a great bonus to me.

 

A fragile bride. Photo from Klavdia's personal archive.

Is there a great difference between a staged and a reportage shoot?

 

A reportage shoot has its own requirements, own approach and own technicalities. It is important to understand what you want to shoot, to have a plan in your head on what frames you want to get in the end. In the case of reportage, the photographer does not orchestrate the process, they observe from the side. Their task is just to grasp everything and be in the right place at the right time. Or simply be everywhere. If I know precisely what comes after what, I can do it.

 

How do you prepare for a shoot? Do you visit the location beforehand?

 

I try to explore locations maximally. Although, in my opinion, a photographer must be able to shoot under any conditions. In Finland, it is rather easy to choose a good location because there are lakes and forests everywhere. There are also locations for urban shoots. Complications may occur when you do not know the city. But I have not been in such places yet.

 

Do you help your clients to prepare for photo shoots?

 

If we are talking about weddings, then I cannot affect much due to the long distances. In general, preparations can be joint. I can give advice and recommendations.

I am always trying to convince the client that everything should be thought through beforehand if they want to look good in photos and to achieve a good result.

In the cases of portrait and family photo shoots, I try to meet up with the clients in advance. We decide on where the shoot will take place, solve issues related to clothing and outlook, develop together the theme of the photo shoot. I am always trying to convince the client that everything should be thought through beforehand if they want to look good in photos and to achieve a good result.

 

A stylish family photo. Photo from Klavdia's archive.

And what is the advantage of professional make-up from the photographer's point of view?

 

The basic wish of the client is to look good in photos. The photos remain for ages, and we all want to look beautiful in them.

 

To achieve a good result, technicalities must be taken care of: light, shooting conditions, photographer's professionalism (e.g. where to place the model). Using the services of a stylist simplifies the work. A photographer should not titivate the client during post-production if it can be done during preparations. Besides, post-production will not look natural. Nowadays, professional make-up is a must with many photographers.

For a quality and quick result, three conditions should be met: 1) the photographer must be technically skilled, 2) the shoot must be planned in advance and 3) the client must be prepared.

There is also the factor of speed. In the modern world, everybody wants to get a quick result. A photographer should quickly process the shoots and deliver the product of high quality to the client fast. To achieve this, three conditions should be met: 1) the photographer must be technically skilled, 2) the shoot must be planned in advance and 3) the client must be prepared.

 

The Reds. Photo from Klavdia's personal archive.

 

About the styles in photography and favourite photo shoots

 

How would you choose a photographer for yourself?

 

I would check the portfolios of photographers who work exactly in the style in which I want my shoot. Each photographer shoots and processes photos differently. One should look for a person whose style and processing suits them. I would also read the clients' feedback and talked to the photographer.

I like to search for options, to pick up the processing style that suits better to the certain shoot.

Are there differences in the works of Finnish and Russian wedding photographers?

 

Yes, there are. Each country has certain trends in wedding photography. In Finland, for example, photos processed in dark tones are quite popular nowadays.

 

How would you characterise your own style?

 

I cannot say that I take photos in a defined style. Of course, I do have my own vision. I like more classic photography when it comes to processing, that is when the colours in photos match the reality. But, though I aim at classics, I have process photos in other ways. I like to search for options, to pick up the processing style that suits better to the certain shoot.

 

Photo from Klavdia's personal archive.

What do you like to shoot besides weddings?

 

I like shooting portraits and reportages from events. I tried to be a lifestyle photographer for newborns. That is when newborns are shot in the natural environment. Essentially, it is a reportage shoot with elements of a portrait shoot.

 

I keep trying to shoot something new. I can simply go and shoot something I have not shot before if it is going to be interesting to me and such an order comes. It is great that I have possibilities to not only shoot weddings but also challenge myself in something new.

 

Tenderness. Photo from Klavdia's personal archive.

 

About the post-processing of photos, equipment and the future

 

Let us talk a little bit about technical details. A lot of people believe that the work of a photographer ends as soon as they leave the stage. I know that is not true at all. Can you tell how much time it takes to process the photos after a shoot?

 

It is impossible to give a single answer to this question. Post-production of photo materials is very individual and depends on how well the materials were shot. As a photographer, I try to shoot maximally good materials because the post-production of photos is a rather difficult and long process. It is huge work that the photographer does after the shooting day. Somebody has even said that all photographers are going to be blind in old age after all the hours of post-processing.

... the post-production of photos is a rather difficult and long process. It is huge work that the photographer does after the shooting day.

I pay a lot of attention to the post-production of photos. It takes much more time than the shoot itself. For example, I am always retouching all shots with the bride because she is the main client and must be perfect in the photos, beloved by herself.

 

However, there are photographers who deliver photos on the same day. The modern equipment allows it. Of course, it concerns mostly dynamic, reportage shoots. But I think the technical progress advances in such a direction that the photos can soon be delivered immediately. This is also to answer the question of how not to stay in one place and continue growing.

 

Photo from Klavdia's personal archive.

On what does the quality of the photographer's equipment influence? How important is it for the client that the photographer has an expensive camera and lenses?

 

Actually, one can take good photos even with a simple camera. But if a shoot has certain requirements, such as difficult lighting, dynamics, then more expensive, photosensitive optics is required that allows taking photos in complicated conditions. Modern cameras have a lot of pros. For example, they work better in twilight and besides, are much lighter. It is hard to survive a 12-hour day with heavy cameras of older generations. If I have a chance to use state-of-the-art cameras, I do use them.

Long story short, the better and newer the equipment is, the broader the possibilities are. However, it does not mean that the photographer must have a camera of the latest generation.

And the final question. Would you like to make photography your primary job?

 

Probably, in the future. I am feeling comfortable now. It maybe does not bring me a lot of profit because I invest much in my own development. I purchase new equipment, participate in master-classes and workshops. I can afford all of this due to my primary source of income.

 

Of course, it is sometimes hard to combine my primary job with the photography. But I believe that one day, I will come to a point when I am going to make a decision.

 

In conclusion...

 

I have a weakness for good photos. For me, they are like frozen moments of time, at which one can look infinitely. Especially, I like wedding photos. I like seeing people's happiness, their emotions. And how great it is, when the photographer can indeed capture the atmosphere of this love in their work. Klavdia is one of such photographers. You can make sure of it yourselves.

 

Find Klavdia's works

A bride and her best bridesmaid. My dog Velli and I acting as the models. Photo from Klavdia’s personal archive.

 

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