This is the fourth of ten interviews that Laura has completed with photographers involved with the incredible 24HourProject, please see her introduction article here. We have put each interview into a separate article so that it’s easier for you to navigate, they can all be found under Laura’s Column StreetVIEW here.
This one is with Meri Kukkavaara…
Image – ©Meri Kukkavaara
What is your name, both real and Instagram?
Meri Kukkavaara @ektara
Was this the first time you participated in this exciting 24 hour project, or have you taken part in previous years as well?
This was the first time.
What city where you able to document?
My home city Helsinki.
What inspired you, or drove you to take part in this project, i mean walking around 24 hours is not for the faint hearted!
I have grown to love street photography, seeing others’ work and developing my own vision and skill in it, and this would really put me out there and and make me produce a shot each hour, and not wait for “inspiration” or the perfect scene. This was the challenge I liked about it, finding a new and quick way of thinking, seeing, and acting on it. And I really liked the idea of the project happening simultaneously around the world.
Did you plan where to go or did you have an idea what you wanted to document, or did you just let fate decide as you wandered through the streets?
I hoped I could produce photographs where you could really see the people, their actions and feelings in that fleeting moment. I had looked up what was going on in the city that day, so that gave me kind of a guideline and timetable I worked loosely on.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during the 24 hours?
That there were no people!! I was laughing about it with a friend who walked with me! This is the capital for goodness sake!! The streets really were quite empty around four in the morning. We are used to cold, so that wasn’t really a problem, but the phones started to die a bit when they got cold.
Do you feel like the time pressure was beneficial to your creativity, or did it just make you nervous and diminish the quality of your images slightly?
Yes, this is just what I was talking about. The pressure it put on me was good for me, it made me just go for it, and I actually was creative and productive throughout the whole time.
Image – ©Meri Kukkavaara
Did you develop a work flow for every hour in order to manage uploading your next image in time?
I was conscious of the time, but it really wasn’t difficult to come up with a photograph every hour. I kept editing to minimum, so it was fast to get a good shot ready and uploaded.
Be honest, did you by any chance cheat a little by processing a few pictures in advance in order to rest a bit?
Well… I live in the city centre, so I went home once to put my feet up for a while. I uploaded one shot from there that I had taken a bit earlier…
Did you follow the IG feed of other excellent photographers taking part in the competition? You know, to check on your “competition”!
I tried to keep up, out of sheer interest and to cheer my friends who were also doing it, but I couldn’t do it the whole time. I was just really busy! And it was wonderful to read and answer the comments of my friends who were following me throughout the 24 hours!
What was your secret to staying up so long? Energy drinks? Coffees? Pure determination? Fruit smoothies perhaps?
I don’t know! It wasn’t even difficult! So I guess I was really determined to do it. 😉 I kept my energy up with snacks, some coffee and juice, and by staying warm, and had a nice Thai meal somewhere along the way. Moving around to different parts of the city also kept it interesting.
Image – ©Meri Kukkavaara
Would you take part in this again next year?
I could, but it would be fun to do it in another city, So we’ll see…
Was it a point when you considered giving up and going home? Did you walk the whole 24 hours?
No, I didn’t consider giving up, it never got that difficult. I had planned to go home once during the 24 hours, in the dead hours of early Saturday morning, and that helped me. I took a hot shower and rested a bit. I walked most of the time but took trams and buses too. And a ferry!
If you had to choose, what would be your 3 favorite imaged from that long day?
This was the first time that I tried to shoot at night properly, and I really like some of my nighttime shots. The 4:03 am photo “tired | I want my mommy” I love because of the feeling in the scene, the feeling of the night coming to an end, how it maybe has been for the two guys, and I also love the lighting and the background in that photo.
Another one is 2:15 am “you and I”. Again, the completely different nighttime feel compared to daytime, and the different light. And of course that moment, that embrace, and her expression.
The third one would be the 7:50 am shot “the morning dressing room”. The sun had come up again, it was that beautiful morning light, and I saw this girl who for some reason was putting on another layer of clothes in the park. She was completely indifferent of people passing by, was just concentrated on the dressing. The sunlight, the trees, and the backlight on her make this shot.
What were some thoughts that ran through your mind when you were finally able to crash into bed?
Thoughts? What thoughts?