IPA Interviews with Winning Photographers

Interview with

Ville Kansanen

2015 Discovery of the Year

Finnish photographer Ville Kansanen utilizes vast landscapes to explore themes of loneliness, the human condition and the emergence of self. Ville believes that the act of being in such landscapes unlocks an emotional connection between humans and nature, initiating self-discovery.

“The landscapes I work in, the seamless, endless deserts and waterscapes, inform my sense of loneliness in the world. Personally, the feeling of being alone has been a constant in my life, a source of power as well as desperation. This desperation becomes silent and palpable when I enter these landscapes where being alone is all too real. Then, it no longer feels like a burden. There is comfort in the melancholy of loneliness when framed in a surrounding that permits almost no life and certainly no noise,” he says.

What is your background?

I’m originally from Finland but have lived in California for the past 7 years. Though I spent a year studying fine art photography, I would consider myself a fully self-taught photographer.

Explain your style in 100 words

I create minimal and melancholic surreal work with strong psychological ties to landscape and forms.

How did your style change over time?

I have been able to check my megalomania a little bit. I used to compile 100’s of photographs together. These days I concentrate more on feelings rather than on technique.

What photograph left a lasting impression on you and why?

Misha Gordin’s ‘Doubt’ series. It made me appreciate that photography is much more than capturing moments.

When did you discover your passion for photography?

When I was in high school my mother bought me a pocket digital camera. I became mesmerized by it and how it helped me really notice the world for the first time.

How did you start taking pictures? Why do you take pictures?

I’ve always been envious of people who are religious because their lives seem to have a larger purpose. Perhaps photography gives me a fraction of that feeling.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

When I’m on location whatever nature dictates inspires, and to a degree limits, my work.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

I was once confronted by a military attack helicopter while photographing in the nude. I never worried about park rangers again.

What jobs have you done other than being a photographer?

Mover, graphic designer, drill sergeant, software developer, industrial freezer worker.

What is your dream project?

What I do now – but on a much larger budget.

Name 5 photographers who have inspired you

Thomas Joshua Cooper, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Elina Brotherus, Francesca Woodman, Jan Saudek.

What would you do without photography?

Paint and sculpt.

How do you know when a body of work is finished?

I’m not sure. When it makes sense without glaring gaps.

Is there one photograph of yours that you are very proud of? Why?

A piece named “Thaw’. It looks very peaceful but making it was violent, painful, and difficult.

What is your most important gadget? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

My Canon wireless remote system.

What was your first camera?

I don’t remember. A 5-megapixel pocket camera of some sort.

What camera do you use now and why?

Canon 5D Mark II. It’s not too heavy, does video, and seems to do what it is advertised to do.

What role does the photographer have in society?

It depends on the photographer and the society.

You can contact Ville and find his work here.

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