HK15022022

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Before I explain the story behind this photo in detail, I must say this. This photo was shot in Helsinki, Finland during one of the darkest months in the whole year: November. Any photographer living in Finland or who has visited the country during winter time knows this. Usually Finnish natural-light photographers don’t work during the winter months because the days are simply just too short. Regardless of this, I wanted to complete this shoot exactly that time of the year!

The female in the photo, Wia, was very soon moving out from her flat (where the image is taken). We wanted to say goodbyes to the flat as she was moving in with her boyfriend, Manu. We wanted to complete the shoot even it was a very murky and cloudy day and Wia’s flat was in the heart of the city of Helsinki, apartment complex first floor. Aka VERY little light.

As I have worked in this country for many years already, I knew the light would be the biggest challenge. And it was. Wia’s studio apartment only had two windows so I needed to really think through how to position them to get the light just perfectly. Luckily, even one murky light source can be enough! As I continued with the shoot, I quickly noticed how intimate it became. Small space, very low light and very limited options. The best platform for creativity!

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

I asked Wia and Manu to get comfortable and cuddly on the bed. I gave very little direction to them during each pose. I mainly advised them to position their bodies and faces while keeping in mind the light direction the whole time. The facial expressions and subtle touches are all them!

What did you say?

Okay cuties, get nice and comfy, hugs and kisses are welcome. Manu you lead the way and Wia you react!

How did you compose your image?

I wanted to create a feeling where the viewer is like a “fly in the ceiling looking down”. The image is shot with a wide angle lense, as I am standing on the bed with them and raising the camera as high as I can. This choice was intentional as I wanted to get both of them to the frame, faces highlighted and from the same angle. I also wanted to show a bit more of where they were: the wooden floor, curtains etc.

Even composition is super important to my work, in this image there was no deeper compositional choices made. The leading lines of Manu’s arm and the wrinkles on the blanket are meant to guide the viewer to the focal point: the faces. Intimacy is highlighted with “frame within a frame ” effect caused by Manu’s arms around Wia.

How and what did you focus on?

I autofocused on Wia’s face, locked the focus and then recomposed the shot.

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How did you use the light in your image?

I used only natural light and a single light source of a window. The window is located on the left side of the image. The light was a bit of a challenge at first, but I was able to tackle it quickly. It was important to get the anatomy, skin, and faces shown and highlighted with the light. I was happy with the result.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Camera

Canon 5D Mark IV

Lens

Sigma Art 20mm f/1.4

Filter

None

Other

None

Shutter Speed

1/250

Aperture

f/1.4

ISO

640

White Balance

Auto

How did you edit your image & what did you use?

As a base I used my own signature black and white preset called “Moody Me Original BW”. I tweaked the exposure a bit lower and added a tiny bit more contrast.

Software Used

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What challenges did you face?

As mentioned before, the biggest challenge was the light. The day was very dark and the light options very limited in the apartment.

How did you solve them?

As going in with the mentality of “Light is the king” it really helped. I composed and directed every pose and position solely based on the light. Even some parts of the apartment would have had better furniture or cool details, but were in the shady side of the space, I rejected those ideas.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

The better you get the luckier you get. I feel like with this couple it all just clicked! They were just perfect together in every way, and that made my job very easy! Showing a bit of skin is always a plus. I just love how the light can paint the human anatomy even more, and bring out some nice details in our bodies.

Henna Koponen

Shooting since

2008

Current Home

Finland

Website

Instagram

I believe we are image makers first, photographers second. My approach on wedding assignments is full trust and freedom. I don’t get goosebumps when thinking about “the traditional and correct way of shooting weddings”. I want to shake the viewer, shock them, make them wonder. The more unique and creative approach I can come up with, the better. I have never wanted to walk the mainstream and create images everyone has already seen. Therefore, my two most important things in photography are: light and composition. I’m not interested in the emotions of my subjects but more fascinated by the power of the technical aspects of creating images. My most successful images are the ones that allow me to manipulate the viewer with the clever and sophisticated use of light and composition. And then, make them stop, and wonder.

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