Slowly but surely, instant photographer and artist Maija Karisma creates some of the most artistic instant prints you'll ever see. She uses different techniques to create effects that are reminiscent of Impressionist paintings. Maija also tells stories with the use of her photographs and enjoys the process and the results equally. Learn more about the Finland-based photographer in this short interview.
Hello, Maija. Welcome to the Lomography Online Magazine! How did you get started on your photographic journey?
Hello Lomography and thank you for the invitation! Hi to all the readers, too!
I would say that my journey started with my father's 35mm SLR. I tried to take pictures of skateboarders but I did not really understand camera functions at that time. Later, I learned a little about camera functions and focused on objects that were easier to photograph. I had seen in the movie how the Polaroid film developed and I was totally overwhelmed. It was totally something else that I understood about what photography really is. In the mid 90's I got my first camera and it was a magical box-type instant camera. It was the time when I took my first steps to instant photography.
How would you define photography?
It is invisible made visible, based more or less on reality.
What's your favorite thing about it?
I have opportunity to re-create new worlds or landscapes of the mind. I can try to create images that are new from my hands. Nothing needs to be complete, perfect or comparable to today's digital photography. It's incredibly satisfying to get a tangible photo almost immediately at your fingertips when you take a picture and see how imperfectly perfect that item can be.
Your feed is just filled with dreamy shots on instant film and we just love it. It's like looking at a museum wall filled with Impressionist paintings. What are the initial reactions you get from your audience?
Oh, wow! Thank you! I would say that initial reactions are positively surprised I think. Or I hope that... haha! All the reactions are welcome, it is good that my pictures trigger reactions, then I know they are not completely void.
What are you trying to get across with your images?
I'm trying to get myself a good grin. I hope that I will also achieve positive reactions to my photos. I photograph mainly for myself but the pictures are meant to be viewed so I share them. I hope I will be able to share my photos in the future with a larger audience who may not be able to see them on the Internet, for example at exhibitions.
In this day and age, why shoot with instant film?
By using film, photographing is slower, more prudent and in some ways feels like a suitable root for me. The films I use are often outdated and resulting in unexpected color variations or incorrect developments, those things give a fascinating magical look to the pictures. All that unexpected magic in pictures and the ability to manually edit instant pictures fascinates more than digital. Although digital photography has its own moments. I'm not an antagonist.
How do you come up with your shots? What do you like to capture when you hit the shutter?
Depends very much on what I'm photographing. Sometimes a photo can only be a snapshot of the view that I see as fascinating. Sometimes I have an idea, a story or a more ambivalent landscape, so I have to think about how to take the picture and where to get the idea to be implemented in the best possible way. Sometimes I get over my expectation sometimes the result is quite something else I wanted to achieve. Hoping in the future I will be able to capture more beautiful landscapes and places I have not seen that nurture the imagination to take more artistic images.
What is your favorite photograph? Please tell us the story behind it.
It's really hard to pick one but I choose this “Search for fern seed” picture because of the story behind it and the technique I've been using.
This picture is from photo series 'The old traditions and habits of the midsummer'. The picture is based on the ancient story of the miracle of the midsummer.
“From aarnivalkea (mystical fire or light on the surface of the water or the mire) the cache site of the old treasure could find wealth riches that are guarded by ghosts, monsters, dogs, bees, snakes or cats.
However, guardians in search of a fearful seeker were the only means of venturing into a cache site. He had to pick a fern seed that drops just at the time of flowering and disappears at the same time. The seed gave his founder the power of invisibility, which the guard of the treasure of the treasure did not notice.”
It was indeed a midsummer night when I started implementing this picture. I drove with a scooter to the nearest swamp where the tussock cotton grass blossom. Next to the quiet forest and land with unclear ferns. The hope was to get a picture out of the moment when the seeker is becoming invisible. The mist had began to rise and I knew it was a good thing. It would add a mysterious atmosphere to the shot. I put the camera on the stand, cropped the picture, and focused the picture as close to my camera as possible. I measured the exposure and took my first shot. I focused the camera again to the point where I would be in the picture.
I added a timer to the camera. I took off my clothes and pressed the trigger. I had to be quick because I only had an estimated 10 seconds to jump over the swamp to the edge of the woods. "Click!" and the double exposure was complete. I ran into my clothes and quickly got dressed. I'm not sure did I find fern seed, but when I was at home I found at least 20,000 mosquitoes in my skin and my legs full of cotton grass blossom flowering hair. I took the picture out of the camera and peeled it open when picture was fully developed. Yes... I guess I found ferns seed and treasure after all.
What challenges you in your creative life? What inspires you?
Since I use mainly outdated films which are no longer in production films are challenging to find and usually pretty expensive. Sometimes the films do not work, and it is a challenge to get the mind to remain enthusiastic. But it's like life in front of ups and downs. Creating good ideas that would not repeat too much of themselves is really challenging. But getting into inspirational places like nature, good music or a movie will help. You should not think too much so ideas can start to pop up.
How does a perfect day look like for Maija Karisma?
Vacation from work, beautiful sunny day, play and wrestle with my boys, hiking with family, good food and lots, lots of ice cream, nice colorful piece of graffiti on the wall and one photo which I am satisfied. Is that too much? One bowl of ice cream please! :)
Lastly, what's next for you?
I'm involved in Instant Art International Polaroid Expo to be held in France, Arles this June. I'm really excited about it! I have started working on my own small photo book called “Small Chocolate World”. It will be A4 size, soft cover and 60 pages long. Amount of 50 copies. All photos are taken on Polaroid Chocolate type 100 film. The final output will be released late this year. At the same time, I have the first solo show based on the photos of the book. So good things are coming! Of course, I wish for a lot of shooting, shooting, shooting...
We would like to thank Maija for letting us feature her work on the Magazine. If you're interested in her images, you may head over to her Instagram for more.