In Focus - Ari Jaaksi Posted On 14th December 2021 To Magazine & In Focus
There are so many of Ari's images that we have admired over the past 12 months so asking him to take part in this series was an easy decision. We're just glad that he said yes!
Section 1 - Background
Share your favourite image / print shot on ILFORD film and tell us what it means to you?
As we age, time becomes more and more valuable. Every new second is a bigger portion of our future life than the one before. Time is the only thing we cannot buy more of, but we can freeze it with photography. A photograph is a fraction of time expanded to infinity.
I shot this picture on the streets of my hometown, Tampere, Finland, last winter. I saw this old man walking towards me slowly, in freezing cold. It looked like it would take him forever to get home. I managed to store one of those small steps on film, and I hope he got home safe. I don't know him, but we shared a moment, that was important for me.
Just in case anyone doesn’t know who you are or what you do can you give us the overview?
My name is Ari Jaaksi. I've got a long carer in high tech, as an executive at Intel, Hewlett Packard and many others, two professorships, startups, investor. Married, two kids. I live in Finland, and I've spent 10 years of my life in the US. As I've worked my whole life with complex high tech and software, I've now totally fallen in love with simple analog photography. It allows me to use the creative, manual, and visual aspects of me that were under-utilized for decades. Film to me is a new discovery -- not something I went back to.
How and why did you get started shooting film?
Some four years ago my older daughter needed a new lens for her DSLR. I'm cheap so I said lets see if we can find a used one. I googled and found one at the local camera store. We went there together to get her the lens, but at the same time, they showed me a Rolleicord V camera. And while my daughter was testing her lens, the store owner Jussi Lehmus put a roll of XP2 film into the Rolleicord and said that he'll buy it back if I don't like it. I shot the first roll and was hooked. Since then, I've shot 1-2 rolls of films every week! I cannot stop.
Who has been your biggest photographic inspiration to date?
Yamamoto Masao. He is a Japanese photographer and his art is extremely powerful. I also find his work on small prints that a viewer can hold in his hands is very inspiring. I actually did the same in my last exhibit: I had a box of silver gelatin prints in the gallery for the visitors to go through, touch and feel.
What is the best piece of photography tip or advice you have ever received?
I started to shoot 4x5 and larger some 2 years ago. Previously had shot mostly 6x6 medium format, and now I was totally lost. I was not pleased with my compositions at all. Everything came out flat and uninteresting. I shared my concerns with the Finnish large format grand old man Tapio Haapalahti and he gave me just one advise: "Stop shooting landscape with your 4x5 and shoot only portrait for as long as you start to get a hang of it.". I followed his advice, and for some reason -- unknown to me, it immediately improved my photography and suddenly 4x5 and bigger started to make sense to me more than before.
What film photography related projects are you currently working on (or are in the pipeline)?
I have an exhibition starting in January, and I'm already working on that. Trial prints, final selection of photos, etc. Most if not all of the pictures will be printed traditionally in my darkroom. Also, I'm still trying to decide if I should take my photography YouTube channel more seriously.
What / where is your next shoot and how do you decide what film / kit you will use?
I'll go to a small costal town of Pori, Finland, to shoot some late autumn - early winter landscape. I will probably shoot with my Hasselblad Super Wide. I'll use FP4+ for as long as there is enough light. I will then continue with HP5+, and you can push it almost endlessly. I don't use tripod that often as it kills my groove. I'd rather push, even landscape.
What are your photographic goals going forward?
I want to keep on developing my own style; not by enforcing it but hopefully gradually developing it by shooting a lot, working a lot in my darkroom, and critically analyzing my own work. Above all, I want to develop my eye to see simple things. I want to focus, work hard, and hopefully one day become a good photographer. I don't believe in talent -- I believe in hard work. In pretty much everything!
Section 2 - Shout outs
We all need a bit of inspiration and love so this is your chance to tell the community about yours – from the film photographers whose work inspires you, the labs you trust with your film, your ‘go to’ film photography stockists, your favourite community darkrooms or just anyone in the community who you feel deserves a special mention.
Give a shout out to your 3 favourite film photographers (not photography hubs) currently active on IG or Twitter and briefly tell us why others should follow them.
@simonsmaars; a consistent beautiful body of work. Excellent use of tonality. Fresh and airy.
@frankthorpv; when somebody shoots with a 4x5 Graflex at the US Senate, he is worth following!
@summitfoto; warm family pictures. It feels almost like I know everybody in his pictures!
Give a shout out to your favourite photography YouTube channels (apart from the @ilfordphoto one).
Forest Hill Film Lab: https://www.youtube.com/c/ForesthillFilmLab/featured
Give a shout out to your favourite photographic retailers (name, location and website).
Kamerastore, Tampere, Finland; https://kamerastore.com/
Graflex Parts, Duluth, Minnesota; https://www.graflexparts.com/
Fotoimpex, Berlin, Germany; https://www.fotoimpex.com/
Give a shout out to your favourite lab service, if you have one, (name, location, website).
I have none. I do everything by myself 🙂
Section 3 - Favourite kit
What film cameras do you own and which is your favourite? (Please send us a picture of it if you can).
I own too many: Graflexes (Speed Graphic, Crown Graphic, RB Series B SLR), Hasselblads (500CM, SWC), Rolleis (Rolleiflex 2.8F, Rolleicord Vb, Rollei 35), Kievs (Kiev 88, Kiev 60), Mamiya 220, and then a Lerouge 45 pinhole, Holga, Moskva 5, Lomo LC-A120, Horizont, Industar FT-2, Spotmatic, several Smenas .. do I need to continue? 😉
My favorite must be my Rolleiflex 2.8F.
Aside from your camera, lenses and film what accessories make it into your camera bag?
A cleaning cloth, remote shutter release cables (many, I keep on loosing them), a light meter that I hardly ever use, extra dark slides (Hasselblad, Graflex), 4x5 film holders, red and yellow filters and a small but sturdy table tripod.
What is the best piece of photography kit you have found or been gifted?
I got an Industar FT-2 panoramic camera as a gift -- being a loyal customer to Kamerastore.com.
As this is an ILFORD interview it would be remiss of us not to ask about your favourite ILFORD products. Tell us you favourite ILFORD film, paper or chems and why?
I have two favorite films: FP4+, as it has a very pleasing organic look to it. And HP5+, because you can pull and push it endlessly. It goes easily to ASA 6400 and beyond. As for developers, Microphen in one of my favorites whenever I want to achieve a silky smooth look.
Nominate one other person you think should fill in this form and we will reach out to them
@simonsmaars at Instagram.
All images © Ari Jaaksi.
About The Author
Ari Jaaksi is a Finnish photo artist. He draws his inspiration from nature and people around him. He shoots mostly on film, and uses different cameras, techniques, films, papers and processes as co-creators, not just as tools. In addition to photography, Ari Jaaksi is a global executive, academic, and an investor.