Q&A

-How did you first become interested in photography?

I wanted to be photographer when I was 14 and was advised not to, so it all started way back. I have been totally obsessed with photography the last nine years.


-When did you decide to become a professional photographer?

Nine years ago, after 25 years as a fashion designer, I decided to follow my childhood dream and learn the craft.


-What words best describe your style of photography?

My key words are soulful, honest, beautiful, respectful, truthful and connection. This is what I strive for.


-What is your post-production workflow like?

I take a lot of images to get the best expression and culling in Photo Mechanic saves me a lot of time. I then bring my first selection into Lightroom where I pick the final and do all the adjustments possible. I love post processing and continue in Photoshop.


I often use Alien Skin Exposure for toning as well as several actions and layers for toning. For skin retouch I use Fashion Skin Pro from Emily Soto (link) and Fashion Actions. This is a great technique that I also use on flyaways, backgrounds and even to ‘iron’ garments.


-Where does your inspiration come from?

I have always been interested in people and in our lives so much inspiration comes from here and from nature. And of course from our great photographers, vintages photos, movies and artists in general. Colours are also very important as inspiration and for the final image.


-Do you have a dream project?

My dream is to get my Kihnu project ‘Big heart, strong hands’ further out to show these incredible, old Estonian women to a broader audience. I would love to have another major exhibition of this work as well as a to publish a book. This is such an amazing culture and needs to be preserved for the future. You can see more of this work here.


-In regard to your ‘Ballet Shoes’ project, where did this idea come from and what has your experience been like shooting with the Eleanor Muslin Backdrop?

I actually found Emily Soto through your newsletter a few years ago and was so inspired by her work. When she announced her workshop in London half a year later I knew I had to go. She is such a talented, lovely person. And of course I follow Emily’s work so her Eleanor backdrop was a natural choice for me when I decided to photograph young dancers. I needed a versatile, large backdrop for this and for my portraits and fashion work as well.


The Eleanor Muslin Backdrop is of such a great, sturdy quality – it is really beautiful. The colour is great as it is, and even more it can be tweaked in so many directions to greyish, purple, brownish and so on in postproduction. I have a daylight studio and I love the images shot with natural light and shallow depth of field. And of course Eleanor backdrop is great for studio lighting as well. My included ‘Ballet Shoes’ images are all shot at the same time with Eleanor backdrop, it is the postproduction that makes the difference.


-How do you go about building relationships and trust between you and your clients?

I think it is important to have respect for people and treat everybody nice and equally. Usually I sit and talk a while before shooting. It is important to get to know people a bit. I also explain and show the back of my camera as we go on, telling that I want to make them look their best. I always encourage and tell that they do good rather than focusing on things that are not working so well.


-Is there a single photograph that you are most proud of?

I consider the image that is included here ‘Lady with the stick’ from by ‘Big heart, strong hands’ project one of my very best – I really love this image!


-What was the best career advice you were ever given?

Mary Ellen Mark once said to me, “You are responsible for everything in the frame.” I think about this all the time when I am shooting as well as in postproduction. I was so lucky to take one of her workshops and also to work in her studio in New York for a period of time. Meeting her really changed my style of photography and my Kihnu project would not have been the same without her advices. It is so sad that she passed away. She is greatly missed; her photographs will live.