I like this photograph I took of the Finnish artist Anssi Kela for a couple of reasons. First off, I believe the unusal setting will make the viewer take a second look. The composition and angle do not explain too much about the situation, which hopefully activates the viewer’s imagination. I think photographs that make you try to imagine what is outside of the frame are rather powerful, because they engage you on a different level.
The second thing I like about this photograph is the sense of solitude: it looks as if Anssi is performing by himself, only the inanimate objects (buildings) as his audience.
Making the Photograph
This photograph was made with a technique I’d call ‘compose-and-wait’. Essentially, you pre-frame the image, pre-focus on the subject, then wait until the photograph comes together (that is, wait for the correct moment). In this instance, coming together meant that the subject turned sideways so we can see his face.
The technical part of this is that you have to separate your focus from the shutter button. This is most often done using back-button focus (google it if you haven’t heard of the technique). Since the lightning situation was very stable (it was almost cloudless that day), it could be pre-set as well.
This means I could set-and-forget focus, composition and exposure. The only variable was the moment - a rare luxury in concert photography. While you learn to automate some of these things (do them without thinking) it is very liberating to be able to concentrate on one or two things, and improves the success rate.
This photo reveals more of the setting:
The location is the roof of Tennispalatsi in Helsinki.
Both of the photographs in this post appear in the book ‘Anssi Kela - Kosketusetäisyydellä’, by Jean Ramsay and myself.