Finnish Fashion Photographer Esa Kapila
Esa Kapila is a Finnish Fashion and portrait photographer with a background in interior design. He started in the photography world since he can remember, but since a couple of years, he decided to turn it into a profession. He has always been interested in light, colors, textures, and atmospheres; which first took his to do her bachelor degree in interior design In Finland and Japan. After graduation, he worked as a designer in Bali and Finland. Time passing he realized he is more and more drawn to people instead of just working with space. As we mentioned before she has always been taking pictures, but selecting that as her main thing was first very frightening yet very rewarding decision.
How is fashion in Finland?
The fashion scene in Finland is quite strong despite our small population. You might know the Hel- Looks showing people’s unique way of wearing or our brands like Marimekko, Formal Friday or Samuji. Since we live in the north, simple and minimal is present and yes we do love black. Lately, Aalto University’s (where I study as well) fashion department has done well in international fashion being featured in Italian Vogue and so on.
How would you define beauty?
I am inspired by strong characters and atmospheres that tell a story. I am on a constant pursuit of beauty. A different culture with their visual identity plays a strong part in my work. I love mixing and creating new cultural fusions with my photographs. For me, beauty is something universal like goodness and can be found anywhere. It is a gesture or language I’m trying to use. I can’t say I know what beauty is, but every time I’m taking photos and something moves inside me, I know I’m close to it.
Were you educate in photography, or are yourself taught?
Education is important – whether you get it from school or elsewhere. I have done my BA in interior design in Finland and Japan, and I’m currently doing my MA at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland on photography. When it comes to photography or other jobs in the creative field, I find it important not to put yourself in a box. Even my field is photography; I have done courses in miniature painting in India as well as mosaic work in Italy. We need to get influenced by numerous of things and not just within our own field. This allows me to try new things and not get stuck in my work.
Which photo are you currently most proud of?
Difficult question! Well a few days ago I took photos of the new winner of Finland’s Next Top Model and one of those somewhat basic headshots turned out better than I hoped for. It is the moment when everything just fits perfectly and you are able to create a mood and a story to a simple image-showing nothing but a person’s face. It might sound funny, but every time I get to capture and share someone’s true beauty, no matter how subjective it is, I feel happy.
Comparing where you are now with where you are when you first started, what could you have done differently to get to where you are sooner?
Nothing! All the detours are what makes life exciting! No, but really, sometimes it takes time and few sidetracks to really find out what you want. Learn from your journey and take the things you have discovered with you. Looking back, of course, there are times when I should have been more determined, more confident, more out there. Building your network is very important. Being nice to work with gets you rebooked. It is essential to try different things, gain knowledge and slowly perceive your own style.
You’ve clearly worked with a wide range of models, what tips can you recommend to people looking to expand their portfolio?
I love different looking people! Different ethnicities and facial structures. What I have learned is not to be shy! If you see an inspiring looking person you wish to have in your images, go and ask him/her to visit your studio. I know it’s difficult and I still regret missing so many occasions because of feeling shy or hesitating. Although I shoot for model agencies and many models in my photos are professionals, the interesting looking people can be found in streets and on Instagram as well. Respect your models and make them feel comfortable. Let them know it is about collaboration. Taking photos is about communication.
Describe a typical shoot.
The typical shoot really depends on what you are shooting and for who. Every client is different. I also shoot a lot of pictures just for me and my own archives. These shoots are very simple. Just me and my model in a studio or on location. I come with the idea for the styling and looks and then we just shoot them. No, but for example, it could go something like this: I contact the model or an agency is going to send me a model. I tell him/her what they could bring with them and where to meet. I bring some clothing and accessory as well, or if working with stylist and makeup team they bring what is needed. On the shooting day I set up the gear and when the model arrives I tell the style of pictures, the atmosphere I’m aiming for and what kind of expressions and poses could work. After getting the model ready we start shooting. We try different things and make variations. After the shooting, I take my time to go through the pictures and select the best ones to be finalized. But yes, as mentioned before. Every shoot is different!
How much time do you spend taking photos, versus retouching photos?
There are things that can be done only while taking photos or some that can only be done with Photoshop. So again it really depends on the photo-shoot. I always try to get the picture as good as I can in the actual situation since even things are possible in Photoshop, it takes a lot more time. The time spent on photos and retouching depends on how many looks / sets are being photographed and how many images are to be selected.
Who would you like to work with most?
When it comes to models, I would love to take photos of Luiz Piva, Colby Brittain, and Oliver Kumbi. For magazines, it would definitely be Vogue China, but obviously there are so many great magazines out there!
Favorite photography book?
This is my weak link. There is nothing like a good big book filled with images! At the moment on my desk, I have the Rankin’s book Spirit of Ecstasy and a new souvenir from Tehran, Beatrice Minda’s Iran, Interrupted. Another inspiring book I’m currently reading is Abu Jani Sandeep Koshla’s India Fantastique Fashion.
To know more about Esa, please visit: Esa Kapila