April 6, 2017

10 Questions: Sofia Okkonen

Sofia Okkonen is a photographer and a finalist at this year’s Hyères Festival in France.

  1. What’s your breakfast like?

I love mornings and weekday morning routines. My breakfast is pretty much the same every morning: oat porridge made with almond milk topped with blueberries, fresh pressed orange juice, coffee and a couple of bites of dark chocolate.

  1. What was your dream profession as a child?

As a child, my career plans changed frequently. When I was very small, I wanted to be a minister, because they were so nicely dressed; a dentist, because I thought it would be a sensible and honourable profession; and I dreamt of becoming a dancer or an aerobics instructor. As a teen, I started to understand that a profession related to visual arts would probably suit me best.

  1. How did you get into photography?

In my childhood and my youth, I studied in schools with an emphasis on fine art. As a teen, I shot polaroid pictures, and hence I ended up choosing photography and darkroom courses in upper secondary school. At the time, I used to prefer drawing and painting, but some people encouraged me to keep working with my photography. When I finished upper secondary school, I followed my sister’s advice and moved to Dublin for a year to study photography. After that, using a camera and my career choice has always felt natural and right.

  1. What do you most like shooting?

What I like most is taking photos of people. I mainly do staged photos, and I enjoy myself in a studio environment.

  1. What distinguishes photography from other forms of art?

I personally don’t like it that photography is seen as a separate entity in the field of art. For many, a camera is simply a tool for making art.

The appreciation of photography is affected by the vast mass and flow of photos; people might be growing numb to photos. I think that professional photographers have a challenge and even a duty to focus on content and visual entities instead of taking good-looking pictures.

  1. What do you expect from Hyères?

I’m looking forward to portfolio meetings, in which I can present my work to curators, agents, ADs, artists and photographers. It’ll also be interesting to meet the other finalists and see how my work and their work stand together. Seeing the fashion show on the last day of the festival will also be wonderful.

  1. What would be your professional dream-come-true?

When I have the financial means to focus only on making art, fashion photography and organising exhibitions, my life will be quite luxurious and free. (It’d also be great to find the support of a high-end gallery and be presented by a fashion photography agency.)

  1. What constitutes a perfect photo?

I like it when the photo has an internal contradiction or tension, a mystery that might be distracting but forces you to look at the photo over and over again. The most memorable photos are those that sensitise and move me.

  1. How do you relax?

After a rough week at work, I love going to the Yrjönkatu sauna and ordering mint soda or beer. Running is also an efficient cure for stress! Recently, I’ve also relaxed by binge watching Skam (a Norwegian TV show).

  1. Who’s your hero and why?

I’ve got so many! But if I can only choose one, I’ll choose the late artist Louise Bourgeois, who’s an excellent example of a courageous, ambitious and intelligent individual. She made original and uncompromising art until her death.

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