Making of: Antti Tuisku - BlaaBlaa

Lauri Laukkanen Photography and Valkean Creative got an opportunity to collaborate on this exciting assignment from Warner Music & Antti Tuisku.

Back in January 2015, Antti approached me and asked me if I'd be interested in directing and producing a music video for his second single "BlaaBlaa". I had heard the song already earlier and liked it a lot and of course agreed to take on the assignment. 

While listening to the song I started seeing images of Antti running in the streets of Bangkok, escaping from the hands of a local mafia. Once I figured out that I wanted to approach this music video more as a short film, I decided to call Matias Koskinen from Valkean Creative and asked him to collaborate with me on the project. 

In the beginning of the year, Matias had spent a whole month in Bangkok working on another project, so the place was quite familiar to him, and without his effort this short film / music video would not have been the same. Matias took the responsibility of writing the script based on the ideas that I gave him, and we decided to co-directed the film, with his focus being more on the technical side of things, and me directing and blocking the actors. The collaboration between us worked out beautifully and we are both very proud of the film we created.

We also got a huge amount of help from a friend of ours that lives in Bangkok - Markus Nordblom - who acted as the associate producer on this project. With his help we found a great group of locals who helped us out on set and he also casted the three mob-members that you see in the film. 

All in all, this was an amazing project that involved the effort of a large amount of people - LLP and Valkean Creative want to thank each everyone that was involved in the project, without your efforts, this project would not have been the same.

Thank you!

Below you'll find a collection of behind-the-scenes photos from our set:

Behind-the-scenes photos by Atte Tanner & Daniel Taipale.

Making of: Instrumentarium (Advertising campaign) - TBWA\Helsinki

TBWA\Helsinki approached me about this advertising campaign for Instrumentarium (part of the large international Pearle Europe-group) and asked me to create four engaging, minimalistic - yet storytelling - portraits of different types of people that use glasses in their everyday lives. This was an interesting and exciting undertaking that turned out great - check out some behind the scenes photos below:
 

Main image:

Making of: Jippu / Warner Music (Christmas-album cover)

Warner Music Finland approached me a bit over six months ago about shooting the album cover and other promotional photographs for their artist called Jippu. What made this project stand out from the other shoots I've previously done, was the fact that the album was going to be a Christmas-album - but the photos would have to be photographed in the beginning of summer, in early May.

Having to shoot the photos in summer meant that we had to figure out a way to bring the christmas feel into a studio. We decided to approach this "problem" by using three different kinds of fake snow, and a wind and fog machine. 

Here's a behind the scenes -video that gives a good look at how our shoot went:

And here's a quick lighting diagram, showing how one of these images was lit:

Final photographs

Photo credits:

Photo: Lauri Laukkanen Photography
Style: Mert Otsamo
MUA: Miika Kemppainen
Hair: Petri Piatu Puhakka
Production Assistant: Atte Tanner

Making of: The Iceland Series pt.2

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO

About a month ago I finally got the opportunity to spend a week roadtripping and camping in Iceland. My plan was to photograph background-plates and other possible landscape-elements in Iceland, and then return back to Finland and photograph models in a studio and create a storytelling composite image out of all the elements.

Photo, concept & art direction: Lauri Laukkanen 
Retouch & art direction: Hannes Honkanen 
(Click to enlarge)

THE TEAM

I approached Studiovarustamo with the idea, and they quickly jumped on board and provided me with a Phase One 645df+ and an IQ260-digital back (a 60 megapixel monster of a camera) for the whole trip as well as for the studio-session a few weeks later. 

I also told about the project to Hannes Honkanen, a great retoucher/photographer-friend of mine, and he got excited about the project and offered to retouch the photos as a collaborative effort. I had worked with him on the previous Amelie Drozzin-shoot and loved the passion he has for retouching. 

Outi Pyy - a finnish fashion designer jumped on board at the late stages of the project and provided me with all the clothes I needed for the project. And the headpiece you see in the photograph are custom-made for me by Nadia Laukkanen, (who also happens to be my mother.) She roadtripped around Iceland with me and used that trip as an inspiration as she created these custom accessories for my shoot.

You can read a more detailed description about the full shoot here: http://www.laurilaukkanen.com/blog/2014/9/16/making-of-amelie-drozzin-in-iceland

Making of

A quick PSD-breakdown of the final photo.

A quick PSD-breakdown of the final photo.

CREDITS

Photo, concept  & art direction: Lauri Laukkanen
Retouch & art direction: Hannes Honkanen
Model: Amelié Drozzin / Fondi
Clothes: Outi Pyy
Accessories: Nadia Laukkanen
Hair Stylist: Piatu Puhakka
MUA: Tiia Loikkanen

Camera: Studiovarustamo / PhaseOne

Making of: Amelié Drozzin in Iceland

Story behind the image

About a month ago I finally got the opportunity to spend a week roadtripping and camping in Iceland. My plan was to photograph background-plates and other possible landscape-elements in Iceland, and then return back to Finland and photograph models in a studio and create a storytelling composite image out of all the elements. 

Photo, concept & art direction: Lauri Laukkanen
Retouch & art direction: Hannes Honkanen 
(Click to enlarge)

The Team

I approached Studiovarustamo with this idea, and they quickly jumped on board and provided me with a Phase One 645df+ and an IQ260-digital back (a 60 megapixel monster of a camera) for the whole trip as well as the studio-session a few weeks later. 

I also told about the project to Hannes Honkanen, a great retoucher/photographer-friend of mine, and he got excited about the project and offered to retouch the photos as a collaborative effort. I had worked with him on the previous Amelie Drozzin-shoot and loved the passion he has for retouching. 

Outi Pyy - a finnish fashion designer jumped on board at the late stages of the project and provided me with all the clothes I needed for the project. The headpiece and necklace you see in the photograph are custom-made for me by Nadia Laukkanen, who also happens to be my mother. She roadtripped around Iceland with me and used that trip as an inspiration as she created these custom accessories for my shoot.

Lighting

Here is a lighting diagram that shows you how we lit the model in the studio, based on the background-plate that we had:

Post-production

Creating this photograph was a collaborative effort where my friend, retoucher Hannes Honkanen, played a vital role. He used all the photos that I shot in Iceland and created a seamless backdrop that looks amazing. Our process with the edit was quite straightforward - we sat down and discussed the final concept and then I let Hannes work on the image. He sent me updated versions of the photo every day, and I sent him my comments (using screenshots like the two below) and together we discussed what should be still changed and edited.

Making of - Amelie Drozzin in Iceland

With that said, I think the best way to show you how the project went, is to show you the extensive BTS-video that I've prepared for you, as well as a PSD-breakdown animation that shows you how the photograph came together in post. Just as a sidenote, the final full res image is 15,000x9000 pixels, which is pretty crazy! ;)

PSD-breakdown

(We had to merge quite a lot of layers together to make this animation, but at least you get a better understanding of all the different parts this image consists of.)

ChromaLuxe MetalPrint

Lightpress.com was kind enough to print me this amazing metal print. The 140mpx photograph looks so amazing when printed on the chromaluxe metal. http://lightpress.com

Lightpress.com was kind enough to print me this amazing metal print. The 140mpx photograph looks so amazing when printed on the chromaluxe metal. http://lightpress.com

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Credits

Photo, concept  & art direction: Lauri Laukkanen
Retouch & art direction: Hannes Honkanen
Model: Amelié Drozzin
Clothes: Outi Pyy
Accessories: Nadia Laukkanen
Hair Stylist: Piatu Puhakka
MUA: Tiia Loikkanen
Making of-footage: Mark Laukkanen & Riku Kylä
Music: Mark Laukkanen

Camera: Studiovarustamo / PhaseOne

Making of: Kalle Lindroth / Warner Music - "Annika"

Warner Music approached me back in August and asked me to screenwrite, produce and direct a music video for Kalle Lindroth, the ex-singer from "Smak" who is now kicking off his solo-career after a few years of silence. This was an exciting project that included hundreds of milk cartons, six burning shopping carts and a camera-copter. That's what I call epic. 

Making of -video

Behind the scenes

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Official music video

Making of: Jontte Valosaari feat. Brädi (Universal Music) - "Selvää Jälkee"

Universal Music & Rähinä Records approached me in June 2014 and commisioned me to direct and produce a music video for Jontte Valosaari's (feat. Brädi) new single "Selvää Jälkee".Below you will find a short making of -video that shows what happened behind the scenes on the day of the shoot. If you've ever wondered what I do on these shoots, this video will answer those questions pretty well. 

The official music video:

Jontte Valosaari - Selvää Jälkee feat. Brädi

Director: Lauri Laukkanen
Screenwriting: Lauri Laukkanen
Editor: Raimo Saba
Colorgrade: Lauri Laukkanen
Production assistant & making of-footage: Matias Koskinen

Production stills

Making of: Amelié Drozzin

A week ago, I got the feeling that I should go out and create a personal project. It's been a while since I last had time to shoot just for myself, and this fact had actually even reflected a bit in my commercial projects. So, I knew I'd have a free day two days later, and decided to try and gather a team of people around me and head out to Yyteri, Pori to shoot a few photos that I had in mind.

The Team

Two days isn't a huge amount of time, and I did need to rush some things, but I was amazed by how "easily" we managed to get a great team together for the shoot. The model for the day was Amelie from model agency Fondi. And Nina Röntynen - from Ninka.fi - came to help me out with the hair and makeup. And we also got three amazing dresses from Stilissima. Konsta Linkola and Matti Keski-Kohtamäki assisted me during the day, and Hannes Honkanen shot the making of -footage for me. 

Behind The Scenes

Footage shot by Hannes Honkanen - Music by Mark Laukkanen.

Final Photos

Photo, concept & art direction: Lauri Laukkanen - Retouch: Hannes Honkanen - (Click to enlarge)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Making of: Pete Parkkonen (Album cover)

The Assignment & Goals

Back in February I spent a week in Hawaii shooting a music video for Pete Parkkonen (read more about that project here) - two weeks after getting back to Finland, Warner Music also commissioned me to shoot Pete’s new album cover and some promotional photographs for posters and his album booklet. 

Our goal with these photos, was to create a set of simple and minimalistic portraits of Pete, that at the same time would convey a slight feeling of mystery and artistry. We really wanted to concentrate on perfecting the lighting setups, and worked mainly around a small set of different poses that we had decided on beforehand. I had Atte Tanner, my good friend and trusty assistant, helping out on this shoot. Together with him, we worked on each of these photos and tweaked the lighting for as long as we felt necessary, until we were 100% happy with the results we saw in the back of the camera.

Lighting

Here is a BTS-photo of one of our many lighting set-ups that was used for these two shots:

BTS
Pete 2

Here’s a lighting-diagram from the same set-up: 

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In this light setup I used the large octa as the main lightsource, and used a large square softbox to fill in some of the shadows that the octa created. And to create some separation I added a hairlight behind Pete. The hairlight created some flares in the photos, so I used a black flag to get rid of them. I also felt like the hairlight gave a bit too much of an effect on the leather jacket, so I added an additional layer of diffusion in front of the light, just to soften it up a bit.

Post-processing

Concentrating on the lighting like this, made the post-processing very quick and simple for me. The light looked good straight out of camera, so I only had to use dodging and burning to accentuate the highlights and shadows that were already there in the first place, instead of needing to “sculpt” the face from scratch with extensive dodging and burning. 

The colors looked great straight out of camera as well, and I didn’t need to do much tweaking on them either. A simple curves-adjustment did the trick on these photos.

Making of

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot - taken by Atte. If you have any questions related to this photoshoot, the lighting setups etc. - feel free to post them in the comments section - I’d be happy to answer all of them :)

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Final photos

Pete kansi
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Check out the full set of photos over at the "Commercial Projects"-page: http://www.laurilaukkanen.com/commercial#/pete-parkkonen-warner-music-pete-parkkonen/


Making of: BMW xDrive - Marcus Grönholm

In August 2013, BMW approached me about a video that they wanted me to produce for them during the winter time. They wanted the video to play around a BMW brand ambassador Marcus Grönholm, who is a two time rally world champion.

With this basic concept in mind, I contacted the amazingly talented brothers from Brother Studios and asked them to collaborate with me on this project. Samu agreed to direct the piece and Janne did an amazing job behind the camera. We also had Ben Winwood working on the music and sound design for this piece, and he managed to create a beautiful soundtrack for the video.

Here is the final video:

Equipment-wise we shot this video with a RED Epic, and used Zeiss lenses - Zeiss Compact Zoom CZ.2 70-200mm T/2.9 and Zeiss LWZ.2 Lightweight 15.5-45mm T2.6 Zoom - and the video was shot in one day (+ we shot a lot of general stock-aerial footage with the guys from Cinepic, on another day).

Here is a short two-minute behind-the-scenes video from the shoot:

And here are some production stills:

And finally here are a few photos that we managed to photograph during the videoshoot:

Making of: Pete Parkkonen / Warner Music - "Mun"

In the past month or so I have been travelling all around the world (Miami, Hawaii, UK) and have been working on several interesting projects that I'm very excited to share with you later in the upcoming months. Today I decided to write up a behind-the-scenes article about our trip to Hawaii. 

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The Assignement

Me and the two brothers from Los Taipales had been planning on a vacation-trip to Hawaii for a few months now, and about two weeks before flying overseas, Warner Music contacted me about a music video that they wanted me to produce for Pete Parkkonen. I had worked with Pete on his first set of photos and his first music video for his first single called "Mitä Minä Sanoin", so it felt natural for us to continue the co-operation on this second single as well. The problem was that Warner Music needed to have the video produced during the time that I was planning to be in Hawaii. Well, we started throwing some ideas back and forth, and came to the conclusion that the best idea would be to fly Pete over to Hawaii, and shoot the video over there. We felt that the sunny weather and beautiful nature of Hawaii would suit the story and feel of the video very well. Once we had decided on that, I started the pre-production process.

Pre-Production

We had written a script for the video together with Pete and his A&R manager Lasse Kurki. Based on that script we needed to find two actors from Hawaii. One adult actor to act as "the mother" and one child-actor to act as "the child". We'd also need to build a cross and find an indoor-location for the first part of the video. 

I had the Taipale-brothers helping me out with the production - they have a lot of contacts in Hawaii, and know the islands much better than I do. With their help we managed to find the amazing Brooks-family that was willing to help us out by acting in the video. Tiffany, the mother of the family, was the perfect fit for her role, and her daughter Seilah, was an adorable little girl who I knew would melt the hearts of everyone watching the video. Tiffany's husband Davidson agreed to play the part of the "dead husband" - which was a tough role to play as well... ;)

Our two amazing actors.

Our two amazing actors.

Building the cross from scratch...

Building the cross from scratch...

For the cross we figured the best way to do it was just to head over to Lowe's and buy some materials and build it ourselves. Daniel and Samuel did an amazing job with the cross.

When we arrived in Hawaii we started the location-scouting process. We drove all around the Big Island in search of the best locations. Our main concern was finding a good indoor-location for the first part of the video. Finally, the day before the shoot, we managed to get access to this amazing house called King's Mansion that is owned by YWAM. It was exactly what I was looking for. And while we were driving around looking for the indoor-location, we found this beautiful field next to the ocean that I thought was perfect for the final part of the video.

King's Mansion
The room we shot most of the indoor-stuff in.

Once we had taken care of finding the actors, locations and had the cross built, it was time to start the production!

Production

Pete arrived in Hawaii, together with his producer Joonas about a week after us. We had decided to reserve three days for the production.

On the first day we shot some "back-up" material of Pete singing and walking on the rocky lava-fields. I had decided to shoot this material mainly as a back-up - just in case we felt the materials from day two and three weren't strong enough to carry the video all the way through. 

lavafield

The second day was the "indoor"-day. We arrived at the King's Mansion in the morning, and shot the first half of the video on that day. We also had to shoot the family-photo that we'd have in a frame in the second half of the video. Working with kids is always an interesting experience and this was no different - but the day went by quickly, and we got everything shot, and I was very happy with what we were able to get done on this day. 

Shooting in the beautiful golden sunset-light.

Shooting in the beautiful golden sunset-light.

And then on the third day, we drove up to the field and shot the final part of the video. I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful golden light from the setting sun, so we arrived at the field about 2 hours before sunset. Having only two hours to shoot before loosing the sun, meant that we'd have to be very effective and get everything done in one or two takes. This required a lot of effort from everyone on set, but we managed to get everything done, right in time. 

Post-production

Sitting at the Warner offices - applying the finishing touches.

Sitting at the Warner offices - applying the finishing touches.

Because we were working on a very tight schedule, I actually made a first rough cut of the video the day after finishing the actual shoot. I showed it to Pete, and together we felt that it was going to turn out great. Then about a week later we flew back to Finland. My schedule was quite crazy as I had to fly out to England (to teach a workshop and give two lectures) 4 hours after landing to Finland - so I decided to make the first proper cut of the video on my laptop, on our flights back from Hawaii. Once we landed in Finland I drove back home quickly and while I repacked my bags for England, I uploaded the video on my server and sent it over to Warner Music for comments. I received the comments in my email as my plane landed in England. Based on those comments I tweaked the video a bit, and sent it back over to Warner. We were almost ready. I flew back to Finland four days later, and on the next morning drove up to the Warner offices, and sat down with Pete to do the last final tweaks for the video. Finally, the video was done, and ready for publishing! :)

Final Video

Pete Parkkonen / Warner Music - "Mun"

Directed, shot and edited by Lauri Laukkanen
Production assistants: Samuel & Daniel Taipale, Joonas Angeria

Making of: Suvi Teräsniska - "Vaiettu Rakkaus"

In this blogpost we take a quick look at the "reality" behind a music video shoot. 

I got the honour of producing Suvi Teräsniska's new music video for her second single "Vaiettu Rakkaus". The video was released today. We had a truly great team working on this project. Samu Amunét from Brother Studios directed the piece, and Janne Amunét acted as the DP. The guys from Cinepic were in charge of the aerial shots. And I had casted my good friend Samuel Taipale as the lead male actor for the video. We also had Hani as the stylist, and Laura Andersson as the HMUA.

Lauri Laukkanen - ST Vaiettu BTS-4.jpg

Before we get to the differences between the "reality" and the "end result", make sure to check out the music video, so that you know what I'm talking about. 

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It's funny to see a shoot in progress, and notice how the end result - the music video - can look all nice and peaceful, even though the day of the shoot has been super hectic and FAAAAAAAR from peaceful. 

Below you will find a quick video that shows a small preview of how the "reality" and the "end result" are usually quite different:

As you could see from the video, the snow that we used was fake, and we had two guys throwing it around, to make it seem like it'd be snowing. This is just one small example of how the reality often times differs from what the final product looks like. That's one of the reasons I like these shoot days so much. Below I've gathered some BTS-photos from the shoot - enjoy! :)

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Making of: Jenni Vartiainen & Nelonen Media - "Mustat Lesket"

In this blogpost we are going to take a quick look behind-the-scenes of a videoshoot that I got the honour of directing for Nelonen Media & Warner Music. It was a great day filled with creativity and good jokes. :)

Before we go into the BTS-footage,  here is the final product that we shot on the day:

The Assignment & Team

In the end of November 2013 Warner Music and Nelonen Media (the largest national TV-channel in Finland) approached me about a combined tv-advert/music video that they wanted me to produce and direct. When I heard the initial idea of combining a music video and a tv-advert in the same video I got very excited about the project, and we started working on it straight away. The tv-channel had already shot and edited the tv-series and the trailer that would be later combined with the music video/studio-footage that I was responsible of producing. 

The artist in the video would be Jenni Vartiainen, which made this project even more exciting, as she is probably the biggest star in the finnish music-scene at the moment. It was a great honour to work with her on this project. 

Once we had settled down on an idea for the video, I called my good friend, Janne Amunét (DOP) from Brother Studios, and together we went through some lighting references, and decided on the look that we were going for. Janne managed to get Jere Korppoo and Ville Tolvanen to work on the lights - I must say that they definitely are the two best upcoming lighting-designers in Finland, and it was great working with them! Jere had done a great job with the lighting of our previous project - Pete Parkkonen's music video, and it was great having him on set with us again.

Janne's brother Samu Amunét joined us on the day of the shoot and assisted me with the direction, and had a vital role during the editing/cutting process - it was great having him in our team as well. 

Working with two clients

Working with two clients simultaneously can sometimes be challenging, but this project went very well. Both clients had the same end goal in mind, and there was great synergy between both of them. My job as the producer and director was to talk the ideas and visions through with both of the clients, and find a working compromise that pleased both of them. When both of the clients are pleased with the ideas and references, like on this project, working with two clients is actually very pleasing. It's just very important to keep both sides informed about everything that is going on, and making sure that all we do, is ok with both of them.

Making of -video and photos

Making of: Jenni Vartiainen / Warner Music & Nelonen Media  - "Mustat Lesket / Suru on kunniavieras"

BTS: A Photoshoot with the Madventures

About a week and a half ago, my friends from the Autolla Nepaliin-project organised a special event where they talked about their amazing journey: they have driven an old van all the way from Finland to Nepal, for charity, and raised over 50,000€ with this trip. They had invited Madventures - two famous finnish explorers - to the event. I knew they were coming to the event, and we had decided we'd try to organise a very quick celebrity shoot at the event.

A photo that I took at the Autolla Nepaliin -event.

A photo that I took at the Autolla Nepaliin -event.

Knowing that the guys wouldn't be around for a very long time, I knew that I'd have to prepare and test out my setup long before they'd arrive. I asked one of my friends to stand in as a test-model, while I setup and tested the lights:

Lighting

The lighting setup was nice and simple. I had a large octabox acting as the main light coming from the camera left. I set it up high at a 45° angle. A large octa like this creates a beautiful soft light on the subjects face, and creates those nice round catchlights in the subjects eyes. Then to create just a tiny bit of separation from the background I had a stripbox on the right side of the subject. This light was on a very low power, giving just a tiny bit of detail and separation on the back of the subject. And finally, to make the shadow side of the face a bit darker I placed a black styrofoamboard on the right side of the face to darken and deepen the shadows.

Lighting setup

Settings & the shoot

Then the camera settings: I was shooting at f/7.1 with a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second, ISO100. And equipment-wise I was using the Canon 1Ds Mk3 and a 70-200mm f/4 IS USM lens (my own camera was used to photograph another setup at the event, and this is why I used this set of equipment that I borrowed from a friend of mine).

When the guys arrived on set, I literally had about a minute to shoot them. They took their coats off, I shook hands with them, and then we started shooting. Five frames later we were done, they put their coats back on and headed to their next event. A super fast shoot - but as I had everything well prepared and planned out, it really wasn't a problem at all. 

Post-processing

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I knew that I'd have to make these photos look a bit more interesting in post. We didn't have time to setup any textured backgrounds or use smoke etc, to add interest into the photos, so I decided to add that extra "mood and interest" in post. I desaturated the photo, dodged and burned the subject, and added a few different textures on the background and foreground. And finally, to keep the focus on the subject, I used the 'iris blur'-tool to gradually blur everything except the subjects face. A bit of sharpening and the photo was ready to be published! :)

Final photo

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No excuses!

In the past few months, I've had many people message me, asking how one goes about finding stylists, HMUAs and models for a shoot. For some reason they often think that having a stylist, HMUA and a professional model is a prerequisite for getting good photographs. But the truth is that they are NOT.

One of my self-portraits.

One of my self-portraits.

When I started out with photography, I didn't have the luxury of having professional stylists and models working with me. Actually I couldn't even get my non-model friends to model for me! But I didn't let that stop me from taking photos. Instead I started shooting self-portraits and eventually my friends and other people around me started getting interested in my work and finally one day one of my good friends agreed to model in front of the camera for a few minutes - those were the happiest minutes of my photographic-career (at that time).

I've come a long way since, and these days I often times do have professional models and actors in front of my camera, and talented stylists and HMUAs helping me in achieving the looks that I'm going for. But still they aren't a prerequisite for creating good photos. The only person that can keep you from taking good photos is YOU.

A Story

On Thursday evening, last week, I spoke with a good friend of mine, Samuel Taipale, and we both felt like it'd be nice to shoot some projects of our own during the Christmas-time. But I knew that unfortunately I wouldn't have much time to shoot anything over Christmas, and was going on a travel on the next Saturday, so the only day that I could organise a shoot on, would be the next day - Friday. Which meant that I'd need to build up a team, find a model, find a location, and decide on a concept, in less than 12 hours.

Finding a professional model, stylist and a HMUA in that short time-period isn't very easy - and even if I'd manage to find them, the stylist would still need at least a day to find the wardrobe that would match my vision. So instead, I decided to go "back to my roots", if you will, and decided to do it all alone. (Or to speak the truth, Samuel did promise to assist me, so technically speaking I wasn't alone in this...) 

Together with Samuel we messaged a friend of ours, who, in our opinion, would work for what we were going for, and asked her if she'd be free to model for us early in the morning. She had never modelled for a shoot like this, so I wasn't sure if she'd be up for it, but luckily she was, and we now had a good friend of ours as the model for the shoot.

Now that that was taken care of, I needed to figure out what our model would be wearing. I'm not a girl (which most of you probably know and have noticed... ;) ) so I don't have any dresses lying around in my cabinet, and I didn't want to use a "normal-looking" dress, but wanted to have something a bit fancier... 

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So that left me with one last option - I'd have to make the dress myself. I drove to the local fabric-store ten minutes before it's closing time, and bought six metres of fabric that I thought would look good. Now I had the model and the fabric.

While I was looking for the materials for the dress, Samuel had done some location scouting on his phone and found a perfect spot for the vision that I had in mind. So, in less than 1,5 hours we had gone from thinking about an idea, to actually organising a photoshoot! No stylists, no HMUAs and no professional models. 

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Now I must stress the fact that I have NEVER studied or even understood fashion, so making a dress for a shoot was definitely going to be interesting. Early next morning, we picked up our model and went inside to test out a dress-design that I had in mind. The great thing about creating a dress for a photoshoot is the fact that the dress needs to look good only from the certain angles you're shooting from, which in my case was the front. We could drape the dress around our model, and use safety pins on the backside  to shape the dress in the way we wanted. 

It was important to test out this indoors, as it was freezing cold outside. We wanted to be 100% sure about what we'd be doing in the forest, so that our model wouldn't freeze to death. ;)

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Once we got into the forest we picked our spot, tested out the lighting and settings, and tried to make the ground as warm and comfortable to our model, as possible. Then I directed her through a small set of different poses that I had in mind, (When working with friends or other non-models, it's important to know what you as the photographer are going for, and what are the poses you'd like to see) and in less than 30 minutes we were done! 

Final result and the "take-away"

So here you can see one of the final photos from our short set.

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But even more important than the photo, is the "take-away" that I'd like to provide you with, through this article. Like I said in the beginning, "The only person that can keep you from taking good photos is YOU". Not having access to HMUAs, stylists and professional models is just a minor obstacle that can always be broken through, if the mindset is right. Sure, they make your life as a photographer much easier, and in the long run, I'd aspire to work with professionals, but it's very important to remember that you can create great work without them as well. You might need to work twice or three times more than normally, and learn a few skills there and here (like with me designing the dress) - but it's definitely possible!

I hope this blog-post will act as a reminder and inspiration for you and me to go out and create something that we've always wanted to do! :)

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Photo & styling: Lauri Laukkanen
Model: Riikka Kuusisto
Assistant & BTS-photos: Samuel Taipale

Pete Parkkonen | Photo- and videoshoot

In this article we will take a quick look behind the scenes of a combined musicvideo- and photoshoot that I produced and shot for Pete Parkkonen / Warner Music.

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The Assignment

In October 2013, Warner Music approached me about a project for their artist Pete Parkkonen. Pete had been “undercover” for almost two years, and had been preparing for an epic comeback to the music industry, and Warner wanted the music video and promotional photos to support him and kickstart this comeback. Pete’s first single “Mitä minä sanoin” has a very strong message: “I haven’t given up, and I’ll accomplish my dreams, no matter what”.

The promotion managers at Warner gave me and my crew a few guidelines for the video and photos: they should be strong, edgy and at the same time, they should show the growth of a young boy, who has now turned into a “real” grownup man. 

The IDEA

We felt that as Pete’s new look is pretty exotic and interesting, we should really rely on using his facial expressions and his ability to carry a song and perform in front of the camera. 

So we came up with this idea of “trapping” Pete inside a small room/box. This box would represent the expectations of the world, and all those vague promises of great success that had been given in the beginning of Pete’s career a few years ago. And as the song would progress the box would slowly start to break down, and Pete would rip down the walls surrounding him. 

For the photos we decided to use the same set, and photograph Pete inside the box, reflecting on the whole situation.

Pete sitting inside our box. Photo by Samuel Taipale.

Pete sitting inside our box. Photo by Samuel Taipale.

Making it happen

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We started building the set a day before the actual shoot. We rented out a big van, and managed to get a lot of scrap-wood planks from a close-by construction site. Those planks combined with some nails, hammers, and six men, working all through the night, led to the creation of one of the nicest sets, that I’ve been apart of building. 

While we were building the set, Jere Korppoo, started rigging all the lights for the set. He and our DOP Janne Amunet, had pre-designed the lighting together, and they did an amazing job with it! 

Around midnight, our scrap-wood ended, and we had to stop the construction. We decided to go and get a few hours of sleep and then hit the local construction-store and buy some more wood. After a few hours of sleep, we met back at the studio, and continued building the set. The actual shoot was about to start in a few hours time, so we were in a slight hurry now. But we had learned a lot about building a set like this during the previous day, so the construction went quickly and we had everything ready to go, as our artist, Pete, arrived at the studio.

Adding the finishing touches to our set.

Adding the finishing touches to our set.

Jasmiina Korhonen, from SB Jazz, was our great hair and makeup artist for the day, and the styling had been pre-designed together with Johannes Hänninen. While Pete was getting his hair and makeup done, we did some final lighting tests and then it was time to shoot!

Pete getting his hair done by Jasmiina.

Pete getting his hair done by Jasmiina.

I really don’t have that much to say about the actual musicvideo shoot - I think these BTS-photos will tell you more about the shoot, than my words:

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About half-way through the music video shoot, we had scheduled a time to shoot the photos. We had done the lighting tests earlier in the morning, and I had a pretty good idea of what angles/poses we’d be shooting. We used the same continuous lights as for the video, and I used this specially rigged “triangle”-light as my main-light, creating a triangle-shaped catchlight in Pete’s eyes. 

The triangle-shaped light. Photo by Daniel Taipale.

The triangle-shaped light. Photo by Daniel Taipale.

Once we had finished the photoshoot, we got back to shooting the final part of the video. At around 8PM we had finished the shoot, and it was time to take our “IT’S A WRAP!!!!”-photo, say goodbye to Pete, and start breaking down the set. It’s funny how easy breaking down stuff really is - about an hour of six men smashing the set with hammers, and the set had vanished. :)

IT'S A WRAP!!! 

IT'S A WRAP!!! 

The Final Photos & Video

Below you can find some of the photos that I shot for Pete on this awesome day. And the music video is embedded at the bottom of this post as well. :)

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My story.

Those of you who have been following me for a bit longer time, know that I became a photographer by accident - it just kind of fell into my lap. I thought it'd be appropriate to kick of this new blog of mine, with a short backstory about me and how I became a photographer.

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This is my story:

In January 2012 I bought my first camera and decided that I would start a simple 365 project where I would just document my normal daily life with random snapshots. I didn't want to use a lot of time for the project, and had no intention on putting a lot of effort into it. But then, on 28th of March, 2012 my whole world turned upside down.

On that particular day I was sitting in a bus, traveling back home after school, and was checking out my Facebook feed on my iPhone. On the top of my newsfeed there was a link to an interview that a young photographer called Alex Stoddard had done with a blog of some sort. And under it there was one of his photos. I got intrigued by the photo and clicked on the link and read the interview. In the end of the interview they had a link to Stoddard's Flickr-account and I of course clicked on it. During that short 20 minute bus-ride, I viewed every single photo that he had uploaded on to Flickr. 

"A destructive force" by Alex Stoddard.

"A destructive force" by Alex Stoddard.

Before this day I had never seen a fine art photograph in my entire life. I had never thought of photography as an form of art. But on that day, this young photographer's work opened my eyes, and sparked something inside of me. Once I got home on that day, I took my camera and walked into the forest and created my first ever "fine art" photograph. 

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At this time I really didn't yet know how to use my camera, so my photos turned out quite crappy. But I bought a copy of Photoshop, and started figuring out how to fix my crappy photos. Quite quickly I learned how to make my photos look good, and became quite good at Photoshop. And then in June 2012, I took part in a photography camp and there I finally learned how to use the manual settings in my camera - and with this new knowledge, combined with my Photoshop-skills, my photography took a huge leap forward. Suddenly my photos looked great straight-out-of-camera, and I could then apply my photoshop-techniques to create new worlds and express my creativity through my photography.

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Now, if we fast forward the "tape" to this day, I have now dropped out of university and given up my "dream" (which really wasn't a dream, but something I thought I'd pursue for the money) of becoming an investment banker and instead started my own creative agency, and during the past year and a half, I have worked with some of Finland's largest clients - Warner Music, BMW, ASUS, National Ballet of Finland etc.

I was also awarded with "Photographer of the Year 2012" in December 2012 by the international World Photo Day organisation. I also became the only european editor on SLR Lounge, started a Young Photographers-association with a few friends here in Finland, have been teaching workshops in Finland and England, and most importantly have fallen in love with creative conceptual photography.

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MY BLOG

I've been fortunate enough to have been VERY interested in marketing and business before getting interested in photography - and thus have been able to combine these two big interests of mine, and have embarked on an exciting journey in the advertising/commercial photography world. The idea behind this blog is to give you all a behind-the-scenes look at my journey in this world.

I want to show you what happens in my photo- and videoshoots, and what are the thought processes that I go through when coming up with ideas for commercial projects. I will be showing you sketches, moodboards, lighting diagrams, before/after photos and much more.

I want this blog to be a source of inspiration and motivation for you all, and thus am open for your suggestions, and will answer all your questions happily! Make sure to leave your comments, thoughts and request down below in the comments-section. :)