I am today very happy to tell you, that we have for you an interview with a really super Light Painter: Janne Parviainen. Janne has a very unique style. His photos tell whole stories full of mystery and can take you to some dream world very far way.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about you?
I am Janne Parviainen, from Helsinki Finland. I have graduated from an art school in 2003 and been doing art full time ever since. Now I teach art and photography in various schools in the Helsinki region couple of times a week and otherwise work on my own projects. I do paintings in which I paint on old windows using mixed media that involves oil color, metal leaves and graffiti permanent markers. Most of my nights I spend on my favorite work, doing light paintings.
2. It seems that we all take a different path into finding our passion for photography?
My father was a very active photographer when I was a kid so photography has always been very familiar to me. I started taking photos myself in the age of ten when I got my fathers old camera to share with my two brothers. I remember making some light painting photos with my older brother when I was twelve but I really got hooked into the art from years later. I found light painting again around six years ago when I had forgotten the long exposure on from my Ixus 40 while walking home at night. The street lights had drawn wonderful light trails into the photo I had accidentally taken and I got really excited about them and started immediately testing otherways to experiment with light and long exposure photography. After that I have totally fallen in love with the light painting medium.
3. What gear do you use?
My gear is very very simple, the only camera I use is my four years old Sony Alpha 200 and the 18-55 mm kit lense that came with it. I have broken the camera’s automatic focus when I was shooting in a blizzard some years ago, but that doesn’t bother me since I only use manual focus in my photos anyway. Even I know many photographers and think the cheaper DSLRs are toys, I really love my old faithful camera, it has been a real champ with what all the extreme conditions and performances it has had to take in my use. Also I got to admit that the little anarchist in me enjoys that you still can use half broken cheap camera’s and still get your photos to world’s best magazine’s such as National Geographic. The myth that you got to have the most expensive camera’s to be professional is just advertisement crap to always sell you something new in my opinion.
4. What about Light Painting specific gear?
My light painting gear is also very simple, I use different colored childrens finger led lights that I order from China with around 40 pieces with 5 dollars. I have about five different flashlights too, one Led Lenser, two Ultra Fire flashlights and two cheaper one’s I have bought from “dollar stores” in Finland.
5. Some of your photos seem to need a lot of time to paint them. Is this true? Do you have an idea on how long do you need for a photo like “I am Nothing but should be Everything”?
Most of my new photos take really a lot of time. usually the exposure times vary from 10 minutes to 50 minutes. And I mean 50 minutes of work, I’m always covered in sweat after jumping and crawling all over the spaces I have to cover with light. The ‘I Am Nothing But Should Be Everything’ photo was quite fast to actually shoot (around 10 minutes) since there was not much to draw with light, but with the drawing I had to make for the photo with a black marker the time was around two or three hours.
6. From our interview with Hannu Huhtamo, we know already that sometimes you shoot with other photographers. In your opinion, does being out with someone else have any advantages, or do you feel you get better photos when you go out alone?
I think it is definitely an advantage to be out shooting with someone else with you, even for safety reasons. I usually take photos in abandoned or otherwise odd places so there is always the risk of an accident or bumping into unfriendly people
7. Do you feel that being recognized is important? How is it that you feel recognized?
Being recognized does help a lot, it is definitely a nice feeling to know you’re not just taking photos to your own computers hard drive, but creating feelings in the people seeing your work. For me in my work the most important thing is to tell others something about myself and how I see the world and I am sure glad that I have found such a lot of people that have liked what I have done. My work has been featured in National Geographic, Wired, Juxtapoz and in Finland’s biggest magazine Helsingin Sanomat and I feel it’s unbelievable that I have gotten my work featured in those sources that have been my dreams in the past! Now if only I get my photos to the Rolling Stone and The Time all my goals will be fulfilled! :D
8. Even though your photo style has evolved over the year, it seems there is a stylistic thread going through them. How do you go about to create a new photo?
I have two different approaches to create a new photo. When I’m outside taking photos I usually improvise something that interacts with the surrounding location. When I’m at home I can spend hours just previsualizing something and then starting the actual work for the photograph.
9. With so many Light Painters out there, what do you think makes your photography stand out?
I think what is my speciality in light painting is the stories I try to create into my photos. I’m not interested in focusing just on the technique or gear, I want to make photos that aren’t only light paintings, but photos that make the viewer feel something.
10. You have photographed some very cool places. Did it have happen anything strange or funny to you in one of your shoots?
I have had a lot of strange and funny situations on my photography trips… One time I was taking photos near my old house that was next to a big field. I had brought a big sword with me for the photo (the photo is ‘Painkiller’, a skeleton with a sword in it’s hand and light figures laying in the ground around it) and when I was coming back to my house which was around 400 meters from there, a police car came from around the corner and stopped me. They had seen me carrying the sword and wanted to know what I was doing with it. Luckily they were rather cool about it and let me go after I had shown them the photo!
11. With the fast evolution Light Painting has had in the last couple of year, it’s future is quite hard to predict. But where do you think Light Painting is heading?
With the new light painting gear and application coming almost everyday the technique is definitely evolving, but I think it’s a very good thing. The more people get interested in the technique the more publicity the one’s that are on top of the game get. I’m myself very excited to see what marvelous creations will wait for us with all these new toys created for light painting.
12. What advice/ tips would you give to other photographers who want to get into Light Photography?
The most important thing is to be original. Copying other people when you start is ok, but after a while it’s like writing a book that’s already written, people aren’t interested in that. Learn your own style and think what you want to tell people with your photos. A photo is a photo but if it touches your heart it is more than that!
13. Do you have some plans / goals for the close future that you can share with us?
I have an exhibition starting in a new gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland on 15th of January and on April there is also some of my oil color paintings on display too. I’m also trying to organize an exhibition in Sao Paolo in Brazil this year, I hope I can make it happen soon!
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We hope you all are as inspired by Janne’s photos as we are. Let’s go out and try to make some nice photos ourselves.
Until next time…