Canon Ambassador, Michele Spatari uses his camera to share untold stories of the pandemic in South Africa, showing that hope exists amidst the turmoil.
Even the smallest of moments only happen once. This impermanence drives a near constant search for ways to hold on to the ones we treasure most – like a rush to paint a picture. It can feel like an endless song and dance, yet what we are creating is often a fragile illusion. Here lies the appeal of Canon Ambassador Valtteri Hirvonen’s explorations of the imperfect and uncharted. It could be easy to mistake him for an adventure photographer, a thrill-seeker, but digging deeper into his work reveals a search for the very opposite: calm. In finding beauty in places that go unnoticed, he shows us that nothing is perfect, and beauty can be found in the unexpected.
“I love an adventure and always carry a camera with me, but it's not always easy to find those magic moments, you need to have some luck and be at the right place at the right time. It's those kinds of lucky moments I'm trying to find. I've learned that eventually they come and when they do, I become very calm – it brings me a kind of peace. I took this particular image in Yosemite Valley, USA. It's a place I have visited many times and this scene has been captured perfectly in millions of photos, but I think the most beautiful and interesting photos happen in less than perfect conditions. You may capture something much more interesting in the rain or a storm than you might on a sunny day. If the sun is out, I'm usually somewhere else. I prefer the darker, moodier scenes. And this is how this picture happened.
When I saw the bird and it went straight to the point where I needed it to be, I had a rush go through me. When I saw the photo on a bigger screen, I liked that it's quite grainy, as I'm purposely fighting against the perfection that Instagram and other social networks often portray. I like the idea that I am shaking things up a bit by presenting images that are not the perfect scene, and in my personal work, I like to be a bit of a rebel. If you go back to the history of photography, the most iconic photos are often not technically perfect, so I tend not to worry too much about the technicality of taking a photo. Of course, if I'm working for a client, I need to be precise in all aspects, but for my personal work, I tend to let emotions drive me more.
I love the idea of capturing the feeling of a scene – how light brings life to a scenario, what it feels like when the rain stops or the quiet when a storm is over. Translating the emotional experience of these moments into a photograph is what I search for. If things are too perfect, you might lose some of the magic. As a child, I was always outdoors in the woods or at the lake, so it's something that brings me comfort. I love being in nature and feel at home there. Walks in the mountains bring such calm.
I began taking photos just as a hobby. When I was young, my mum, dad and grandparents all used to take a lot of photos, and I remember watching those old slideshows with them as a family. Friends and my cousins would come around for slideshows nights and I still remember the humming sound of the projector. It was really fun and definitely sparked something in me and a love for images. When I spent some time in Chamonix, France, I started documenting the time through photography. I have now been photographing professionally for 15 years.
When I’m taking photos, I always try to remember that things don't have to be epic all the time. I go for moments that happen naturally and feel real, and I want to show that the simple and unexpected can also be beautiful. Photography has taught me how to become better with people. I am the kind of person who likes to be quiet, and although I like being social, I don't want to be social all the time. But since doing photography I've become quite good with people. I've also learned that if you are nice to people, good things will happen. People can surprise you in a nice way. And I have discovered that in capturing the things you don't see as so important right now, in two years, five years or even ten years, time might have added a different perspective and it could then be important.”
Learn more about Valtteri and his work here.