Looking Back, Looking Ahead – and Looking for Inspiration

My personal favorite of all my 2009 images

(UPDATED 19th Jan, 2010; see end)

It is this time of the year. POY (Pressimages of the year / Vuoden Lehtikuvat) had a deadline last Friday. I looked at my images, selected some and submitted them. The best image of the year – in MHO – was not of sports: not Kira Korpi, not Tero Pitkämäki, not Saku Koivu nor Tanja Poutiainen. Actually, it had nothing to do with my work, really. My personal favorite of 2009  was this on my daughter Emma, then four years old,  on the island of Andö. A beautiful moment there, something to remember  the summer of 2009 by.

I submitted some pictures for the sports series, that’s about it. Nothing worth mentioning, really. I would have liked to submit something to the multimedia presentation series – if there was such. But there isn’t – unlike Sweden , where  57 entries are competing in their POY-competition this spring – in multimedia series.

But, that tells something about the state of our media, if anything… I mean, name one multimedia piece worth mentioning in Finland during the past year… What? Nothing? How surprising…

Which brings me to my subject: I got into sort of an argument last week with a friend when I said that I don’t think there is a one single photographer (working in the media) in Finland presently whose work I personally could call inspiring. He argued that I was full of… well, you know, and that it was pretty arrogant, to say the least.

He had a point, but let me elaborate a bit: I don’t mean there are no good photographers. There are. Several of whom I acknowledge to be much better I ever will be. Quite often, when I teach or talk about photography or multimedia, I mention them by name.

But do they inspire me? Do they create something new, something I have never seen before? Something totally fresh? Is there anything in the pressphotography field in Finland – say during the last year – which has left me gaping in awe and amazement?

I’m sorry, I wish I could say different, but no. Nothing – or nobody – worth mentioning.

I want to be positive – and definitely not sound arrogant, full of myself or anything of the sort –  so let me clearly state that there are people that I DO find extremely inspiring, people I look up to.  I have mentioned John Webster and Petteri Saario in an earlier post. Everytime I see their work (just saw an episode of “Rajankäyntiä” last night)  I just wish I could one day show anything of a similar nature. Amazing stuff.

In the field of photography, I have mentioned the work of Poul Madsen and Henrik Kastenskov in Denmark- I usually refer to them as the “BFC guys“. I still consider  The Afgan Diaries to be one of the best multimedia productions I have ever seen. Also, their eagerness in teaching and sharing – and the whole attitude of pushing forward and looking ahead suggests that there might actually be some future for professional visual media after all. See, for instance, a brilliant piece of work from one of their workshops called “A Concrete Love Story” (By Kyrre Lien, Markus Aarstad, Brian Cliff Olguin). Absolutely worth seeing, trust me.

2010: The Year of the Tablet

Vincent Laforet is a very sharp guy. I just love his aerial photography, his image of the skaters in Central Park is one of my all time favorites. But, it is not only his work but his thinking – and his aiming to think ahead – which I highly appreciate. His lenghthy article “The Cloud is Falling” in Sports Shooter is a classic. More importantly- and more up to date: please note the blog entry he made the last day of 2009, called “Two Predictions for 2010”  (- and compare it to my entry from October 12th ;-)  ):  I totally agree on the fact that 2010 will be remembered as the Year of the Tablet. How fast will the penetration be, we don’t know, but it will be fast – and I am still pretty confident that no major player in our media scene has yet set up a R&D team to prepare for this change. Not only technical solutions (they are easy) but working on actual content.

I won’t repeat my arguments from the previous post, but it is not only me and Vincent who are raving about this: see The Apple Insider or The New York Times. The rumor has it that several US medias have been contacted and they are already developing content for such an device.

While you probably have heard of Vincent Laforet, I doubt you have ever heard of a polish photographer Darek Czarnecki. As I am very much into panoramic work and taking things visually beyond the obvious, he is one of the people in the field who have made my jaw drop. See e.g. the interface he created for this panoramic multimedia piece.

But I realize that I am quite often inspired by people working in totally different fields. Last week, while helping a friend out I ended up doing consequtive translation (English into Finnish) for professor Gordon Edwards. Topic being nuclear physics, reprocessing of nuclear fuels etc.  it was one of the toughest tasks I have ever done in my life (no breaks, speaking 2.5 hours in a row live). Yes, I am a linguist by training, but nobody does interpreting for that period of time even when they do it professionally.

But – again – it was his enthusiasm, his dedication, the total concern about our common good and his commitment which really touched me – and made me consider some of the choices I have made in my line of work – and in my life. Choices which I might – and actually hope I will – get to reconsider one of these days.

I started dropping “big names” so let me finish by briefly naming three persons, each of whom I can definitely say made a difference in my thinking in 2009. Each of whom made a speech I thought were of the most inspirational nature I have ever heard. First, Steve Jobs (former – and present – CEO of Apple) talking in Stanford Commencement 2005 . The simplicity of his expression and his argument about the need to love what you do just so totally sank in.

Another totally unforgettable encounter and a source of high inspiration personally was yet another Commencement Speech, 2008 in Harvard, by J.K. Rowling (the author of Harry Potter). The importance of imagination, doing what you believe in… In her mouth, the word “magical” has a very special meaning.

And the last – and I have to say not the least – Randy Pausch giving his Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams in Carnegie Mellon. Not that I came up with anything original as I see the YouTube viewcount shows almost 11 million views… But what an amazing person. I cannot think about the term “head fake” anymore without smiling and thinking about him…

So: looking forward to 2010. Lots of changes, I am sure about that.


(UPDATE 19th Jan. 2010) Some new info on the iTablet – or iSlate as it seems to be called. There have been rumors that around 25th Jan. Apple will make  it official… but if you can’t wait take a look at this or this or this or…

There seems to be a leak in Apple – or more likely the usual i.e. it is a well calculated move to stir up some hype couple of days in advance.

And while I am at the keyboard: I got an assignment to shoot the European Championships in Figure Skating in Tallinn, Estonia, starting tomorrow (even though I had thought there would be nothing major before the Vancouver Olympics) so stay tuned during the weekend. If it is anything like it was a year ago, there are some really nice images.

(UPDATE 28th Jan 2010): Apple made official today what they call the iPad

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