Commercial shoot for the Viking carpenters of Puustikki
These were one of those moments when I got to produce exactly the kind of imagery that I aim for in my career. I was contacted by Jarkko, a man who runs a Finnish company of carpenters called Puustikki. He described themselves as Finnish Viking carpenters, who create epic wooden furniture and wood art. The brief was simple: he wanted to hire me to create epic portraits of all the carpenters and there should be a touch of history or even fantasy. Epic, fantasy, vikings; this job had my name written all over it and certainly what my portfolio was all about.
Let's talk a few moments about portfolios. The way I see it, a photographer's portfolio has two main goals. Firstly, you want to showcase your work to potential clients and it has to be easily accessible. In today's world, you really need to have a convenient means to show what kind of images you create. Almost everyone has access to the internet, so a portfolio website is the very first thing you should have. A physical portfolio is also very important, but sometimes you simply can't bring it everywhere.
Secondly, and this I feel is the most important point of your portfolio, you want to showcase the what you are as an artist through your images. You have a certain style and perhaps you like certain genres more than others. Then by all means, showcase only those pictures that convey your style and what you want to shoot. If you hate photographing newborn babies, then why would you even have any baby pictures in your portfolio? I understand that photographers are under great pressure to get bread on the table, which often forces them to portray themselves as a jack of all trades, master of none. Their portfolio is all over the place, showcasing images of weddings, newborns, advertising, travel, products, concerts, and the list goes on. Whenever I see this, I immediate stop looking. I feel that you need to focus on certain areas and a certain style and stick with it. This is the only way to master your craft.
Now let's get back to the awesome viking carpenters. They created most of the props for this photo shoot, but I was given a lot of creative freedom. Everything from creating the atmosphere with lighting, smoke and saw dust to editing and compositing was all up to me. The more creative freedom you are given, the better the outcome. Whenever I'm given a lot of creative freedom, the final images are going to have a very strong connection to what I already showcase in my portfolio. I always ask myself two questions: "how can I portray my clients in a way that will take their business to the next level?" and "how can I tell their story through a photograph?". With the original brief in mind, I sketched every photograph on a piece of paper, including lighting diagrams, camera settings and even the time I could spend in shooting each carpenter. I also leave room for testing out new things, so more often than not, lighting diagrams and camera settings are just guidelines. The actual shoot took place at their workshop and editing was done in my studio.
Here is a before and after look of one of the images just to illustrate how much work is done in editing:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JUKKA ALASAARI
Commercial photographer, videographer, retoucher and adventurer from Finland.