First of all, the lighting of the auditorium was awful as there were no spotlights pointed at the speakers. They were in the shadow, whereas the audience bathed in orange light.
The seminar introduced us to excellent speakers mainly from Finland, but also Paul Lewis, special projects editor of The Guardian. Paul’s story of the amazing help of Twitter at London riots of 2011 convinced me to register to Twitter. That’s not a bad idea, even though only 60 000 people use Twitter in Finland, whereas there are about two million Facebook users here. Thus I decided to tweet in English, and as most of the updates will probably consist of Photour or ideas around photography, the choice is quite logical.
I was also very interested when I heard Touko Hujanen‘s story of Santa 24/7: Portrait of a Year-Round Father Christmas. The images are quite remarkable and become even more amazing with the story, which you can also read briefly from the Time’s article.
Basically Touko followed Timo Pakkanen, last name freely translated to “Frost”, around for seven months. At first, Touko was about to document a coup in a third world country, but then he saw Timo who was dressed as the Santa Claus. Touko decided to dismiss the coup and follow this bearded character.
Touko’s girlfriend even took a student loan to pay the trip to Japan, where Touko and Timo went together. Touko told us that the situation was quite absurd; to spend time and money to follow a man who dresses up like Santa Claus for every day of the year – excluding, ironically, christmas.
This all happened briefly after Fukushima’s nuclear failure, and local children of a Japanese orphanage were very worried whether Santa would visit them this year. When Timo, in his Santa working outfit, appeared, the children burst into tears. The tears weren’t of fear, they were of relief. This was when Touko realized how important the project of his actually was.
When the seminar got into panel discussion, I found myself a hope for my future: The idea, the sisu to do a certain story, to proceed with something you’re passionate about, can pay off. The same happened with Touko and his ambition to follow Santa Claus when the Time saw his photos and asked whether they could publish them. And so they did, with multiple other magazines following the lead.
I’m passionate about my project, Project L. I’m spending my money and time for it and I’ve got a vision. Surely my story is far from being as dramatic as Touko’s, but for Pete’s sake, I’m only just over 20 years old. I’ve got time.
Speaking of which, I will be shooting the eighth part of Project L on saturday and I hope to include a longer video this time. You can follow me at Twitter for further updates compressed in to 140 characters: https://twitter.com/tuomassiitonen