Christoffer Relander, a photography artist captures nature in a unique way. HOT has a look.
Christoffer Relander was born in Finland grew up on the countryside of Ekenäs. Relander’s interest in art started at an early age, but it was not until he served the Finnish Marines between 2008-2009 that he decided to be a photography artist. HOT catches up with the man himself, in connection with his much applauded project: Jarred & Displaced. Excerpts…
Childhood nostalgia led you to explore the Finnish countryside that you grew up in. Why did you want to see them in black and white as opposed to colourful shots?
There are actually several reasons. It’s poetic, surreal and in a way nostalgic. Then there’s the practical part; as it’s shot entirely on film I prefer black and white developer (chemicals), developers for color film is quite toxic.
Can you talk about the technical challenges that you faced during the project?
As I decided to shoot this entire project on film using in-camera double exposures I had to prepare a lot before becoming comfortable producing. I believe respooling the film correctly was the most challenging part. After some trials and error, I figured out a way to get all frames almost completely aligned, but for the cost of more work on each roll of film. This project has been my slowest and most time consuming so far.
All double exposures are shot on medium format film. You manipulate the images on the camera, rather than digitally. Can you talk briefly about your technique?
Many know multiple exposures and double exposures as a mistake; when you forget to rewind your film and unintentionally shoot another exposures on the same part of film. I just do it intentionally, with five years of practice with a DSLR, then one year using a medium format film camera. Photoshop manipulation is not that interesting to me personally as the image is only finished when I decide it is—always something to tweak and adjust. Doing it in-camera means the manipulation is done instantly when I press the last shutter. There might be some aesthetically glitches, but these I like as they add an interesting honesty. I enjoy the beauty in the process almost as much as the subject itself.
In this day and age when anyone with a camera is a ‘photographer’, what do you feel distinguishes and sets apart, the “eye” of a photographer?
It’s a good question. I think what distinguishes a professional photographer might not be judged through a single photograph, rather a body of work. What’s very challenging is to find your own language and style, your niche. Otherwise you won’t even know what to improve and focus on.
What are the sources of your inspiration?
The idea for Jarred & Displaced came to me at the time I knew I would become a father, about two years ago. I started too feel nostalgic and anxious, thinking back to my own childhood that now felt so far away. In this project I play with the idea of conserving something time has taken away from me.
What are your views on scope of photography as an art in the digital age?
I find today’s digital camera option very comfortable and easy to use when it comes to commercial photography or just taking quick pictures of my daughter. I mean the amount of frames I can take and share within minutes is impressive… But when it comes to my personal photography I really prefer to shoot on film. Something about slowing down, using a process that’s more of a handcraft and not working with pixels. When you shoot a lot on a digital camera I tend to spray and pray—hope to get at least one good shot. Jarred & Displaced is shot on medium format film. After preparing and shooting for a full day on a single roll of film, that excitement to finally see how it turned out, it’s quite rewarding even before I get to see the developed film as I have to imagine what it’ll be like.
Christoffer Relander knows how to encase raw beauty in his shots…he captures reality, elevating it to the surreal!