STEPPING OUT OF THE SHADOWS

AFTER GARNERING INTEREST FROM POSTS ON FLICKR, THIS SELF-TAUGHT PHOTOGRAPHER RECEIVED CRITICAL ACCLAIM AND ORGANICALLY GREW AN ONLINE FOLLOWING FOR HIS EXQUISITE LOW-LIGHT IMAGES. LET’S HEAR IT FOR MIKKO LAGERSTEDT…

MIKKO LAGERSTEDT’S images do all the talking. No, scrap that. They scream and shout brilliance. From the modest beginnings of posting images to Flickr, self-taught photographer Mikko has managed to grab the attention of the photography world and forge a following of fans.

«To be honest, I really didn’t expect anything from my pictures,» says Mikko. «At first, I just went out and took photos and posted them in Flickr. I was positively surprised by the feedback I got.»

It’s clear to see why he receives such acclaim. Mikko’s shots are a lesson in mood and atmosphere, and there’s a specific style that he manages to stream through his entire portfolio. «I try to bring the feelings that I had when I took the photo to the viewer of my pictures — that fleeting moment captured in the everyday life, and how we forget that the world is a beautiful place,» says Mikko.

Many of Mikko’s images have an underlying theme of solitude and open space, and it’s this simplicity that inspires him. «I love simplicity,» he says. «It’s intriguing to show the vast spaces and those never-ending sceneries. It’s also thought-provoking to take pictures in fog or mist. There could be anything nearly visible lurking in the fog. One of my main inspirations comes from the short moments that pass us by every day unnoticed that we take for granted. I want to make those moments visible to people. Life is full of mystery,you just have to see it.»

Take a look at Mikko’simages and you’ll see mystery in abundance, which is given an advantage by living amongst the changeable landscapes and conditions of Finland. «Hove the changing weather and difference in the seasons here. We have cold winters and warm yet rainy summers. The dark, long winter is one of the reasons I feel drawn to the misty dark scenes.Finland is also a land of a thousand lakes. The humidity here gives unorthodox chances for photography, but while it is often an essential ingredient for my shots, the dark, long, cold winter is something I could have a break from at times.» It’sthe specific conditions of those long, cold winters, however — namely mist and fog — that make his images such a success and that he looks for in creating an atmospheric landscape shot: «Fog gives you so much more perspective and depth,» he says. «And it’s the things you don’t see in the shadows that make the picture.»

A skilled eye is needed to notice subtle changes in the weather — Mikko has honed his to perfection, responding to slight differences in light and temperature that he knows will influence the mood of his images. «The light and changing temperatures are the embodiment of my landscape photography. I experiment with long exposures either with Neutral Density filters or at night; you’re never 100% sure what you’re going to get.»

But constantly viewing the world through the eyes of his camera can also become frustrating at times: «Since I’ve been taking pictures, I see the changes in weather and light much more,» adds Mikko. «And when I’m driving my car, I look around for interesting sceneries and landscapes. It is sometimes annoying, because I can’t turn off my photography vision. But that’s the way photographers see the world.»

Inspiration comes in many forms for Mikko: nature, movies and music being the main ones, but also other people’s images. «Of course you will get influenced by other people’s pictures,» he says. «It’s quite impossible not to be affected or inspired by the pictures you see all around the internet. Even when walking down the street, you will see advertisements with beautiful photography. It’s a visual world we live in.»

While Mikko might be surrounded by inspiration, there’s no denying he’s a naturally gifted photographer: four short years is all it took for him to go from owning his first proper camera to achieving such a brilliant eye for photography. «After I graduated from graphic design school, I bought my first DSLR — a Nikon D90 — and that’s when I fell in love with it. The world of photography is so intriguing and you can always find something new to learn. I have had my times when nothing seems to go right and then times when I get that moment of pure happiness from capturing something extraordinary. Those are the things I find extremely gratifying in photography.»

It’s clear that many people think Mikko’s consistently getting it right. The army of followers viewing and commenting on his work has steadily expanded to the point that he’s now began to take photography to the next level and we’re sure to see a lot more from him in the future. «My journey started from just experimenting with the camera. I took a lot of pictures and became familiar with the technique aspect of photography. After taking a lot of pictures, I started to find my own style and vision. I’m still in the early stages of my photography journey. Photography for me is still a hobby, but it’s something I’ve recently started taking more seriously.»

And take it seriously he should — with such great feedback and an amazing response to his photographic style, it seems there’s an opportunity here for Mikko Lagerstedt not to be missed. «I get very motivated from the comments. To get such positive comments from what I love makes me truly honoured.»

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