Interview with Mattias Leppäniemi

I saw interview of Mattias in Youtube channel of Eric Kim. Soon after that, I decided to contact Mattias and ask for his interview which he kindly granted.

When did you discover photography? Was there a moment in your childhood or adolescence when you discovered that you love taking photos?

I’m a really late bloomer. I actually got my first camera as late as 2006. But visual imagery has always played big part in my life as I studied design and worked as a graphic designer.

In your photos, one can sense solitude or a kind of loneliness. Tell me a little about this and capturing that unique atmosphere.

It is true, at first it was an unconscious decision. But after looking at my work I really found that it reflects me as a person and now it is a very conscious decision in my photography.

How did you meet Eric Kim? Tell me your first impression about him.

I met Eric in Tokyo. I attended a workshop in there that Eric had together with Charlie Kirk, Bellamy Hunt and Afie Goodrich. My first impressions of Eric is that he is a super nice guy, full of energy.

He is a quite unique person, he loves sharing knowledge and is kind of like a Energizer Bunny :D. My friend Brian (Sparks) calls him “Eric Machine”.

This spring I invited him over to Stockholm to hold a four day workshop here, and it all went well. I do not know of anybody who have met him in real life that does not like him. He is a top man!

Tell me about capturing the beautiful photo of Linnea.

I was out shooting with Eric and we talked a lot about projects and the importance of shooting and working in projects. I am currently working on a project with the working title “The Elderly”.

And as we were walking I spotted here from a distance and knew right away I had to include her in the project. So I approached her and started talking to her and asked if I could take her picture. She agreed and I took a total of six shot of her and they where all pretty good.

The amazing thing was afterwards when she told me that I had made her day. It felt really good and totally made my day as well.

How was your trip to Tokyo? Do you intend to return here?

My trip to Tokyo was totally amazing. I love Tokyo! My only regret is not staying longer. I made a lot of new friends and I have every intention on going back as soon as I can.

Many photographers have great images but find arranging them into a sequence very difficult task. Would you have any idea on how to make the process easier?

No, it IS REALLY hard. But my general advice would be to her very hard in your edit and let the edit take bit of time. Also get input from people you trust, and get the input in person not on Flickr. I do not think that feedback on the internet is very useful if you really want to know what people think.

And if you have a set of images I think it is generally good to let some time pass from the actual shooting to the editing. You need time to detach yourself from the emotion that you had when you took the picture. Sometimes that emotion is preventing you from seeing if the picture is good or not.

This emotional attachment is very interesting and quite common with photographers. Do you believe detachment would help? If so, how to achieve detachment during shoot of emotional subject?

I think detachment is important in Street Photography. I´m not sure about other genres. But when it comes to Street Photography, you have to detach your self from your pictures. It helps you being a better editor of your work but it is really hard.

The emotion you feel when you raise the camera and dare to shoot a stranger you never have met before is quite satisfying (or even horrifying), sometimes that feeling and your memory of the moment can be so strong that when you look at the picture, all you feel is that feeling. And that can sometimes cloud the judgment of the actual picture.

In these “Flickr-fav-Explore”-times you can really feel the pressure to get instant feedback, and you quickly upload and just wait for the comments to roll in on your “amazing” picture… And sometimes when you look back on your old pictures you can see that the picture is sometimes not as good as you remembered it to be.

There are some ways of “helping” your self to let your pictures digest. One is to work in time based projects and not look at the pictures at all until the timeframe has passed. Another way is to shoot with film, although it does not suit everybody.

What photo books would you recommend to a person who has no photo books?

I would definitely recommend Robert Franks “The Americans” It is a classic regarding to editing and sequencing a project. It is one of my favorite books.

Thank you Mattias! You can find more about Mattias in his website:
http://longtallswede.com

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