Tommi Linna was interviewed in Inspired Eye issue 4. Here I catch up with him with his series of street photos made after sunset.
Tommi, lease tell us a bit more about yourself
I am a soon to be 49 years old hobby photographer, working the nightshift at a home for elderly people suffering from dementia.
Where in the world are you located?
I live and work in Stockholm, Sweden.
Shooting at night, is it a matter of choice or constraints?
First off, Olivier we´re not really talking night, rather after sunset, and that´s not very late this time of year. Having said that, It is a little bit of both, actually. Working night, I´m in no hurry to get out of bed in the morning.
Add to that the not very many hours of daylight for periods of months on end in this part of the world … Now we´re of course getting more daylight by the day, so there´ll be a lot more “sunny” if not necessarily “happy” images. And I don´t complain.
I love making photographs with bold sunlight and shadows, and perhaps with more people. Come summer, I´ll do some serious nightshooting while riding my bicycle across the city.
What do you see in your night work that you can't find during the day?
I see less people. I see more empty, quiet streets. More of the urban landscape as it is “in itself”. I prefer the city this way, the urban landscape stripped of too many people crowded in the same place. It lets me breath, see, feel easier and clearer.
I need to concentrate when I´m making my photos. I very seldom get a decent photograph made if I´m not “there”. I need that calm and connection with my surrounding. It´s not that I have any problems with people or crowded spaces, well, maybe I have sometimes, a little.
But I need space around me and lots of room for my thoughts in order to make decent photos. My style of “street photography” is not very action-based.
What do you look for when shooting at night?
I look for the city. As I said, I´m a sucker for the pretty much empty city streets, scarcely visited side- and back streets of the city, the quiet streets where nothing much happens but the delivery of goods and the passing by of an occasional taxicab or pedestrian. I look for shadows and light that intrigue me.
The garbage lying around, the doves poking in the dirt, the graffitti, the not very clean environment, that I for some odd reason find attractive and strangely beautiful. And between the empty buildings and on the half deserted streets I find my calm and concentration.
Any tips for aspiring night shooters?
Well, behave like a decent human being. Don´t make a lot of noise, and at the same time don´t sneak around, as if you´re up to no good or have a hidden agenda. Be straight forward with your intentions, and don´t impose yourself on the few people you´re likely to meet.
Let's face it, bad stuff happens when the sun goes down, how do you protect yourself?
The darker and emptier parts of our inner cities are sometimes inhabited by shady characters, who can question your business there, and rightly so. Many of them are unfortunate to have to spend their time amongst the concrete and filth, and it´s far from me to exploit their situation or in any other way put more burden upon them.
As for protecting myself. I don´t stumble into potentialy dangerous situations, force myself on a group of men standing in the shades, etc. I don´t flash around with my camera – it isn´t really that much to show of with anyway … And I try to go easy and be friendly with the people I meet.
Of course, I'm asking for our readers. You seem fully capable of taking 2-3 guys 🙂 What camera are you working with currently and why?
For the best part of this winter I have used my Sony Nex 5N with the Sigma 30 mm lens. Sometimes, and more and more the past week, I have used my little Ricoh GRD IV. I like the Sony better for the “slow” streets shots, the nightshots of cityscapes. Even though it has no image stabilization, nor does the Sigma lens, it is still steadier and lets me make pictures even with pretty long shutter times.
And the high ISO capabilities are of course great compared to the small sensor Ricoh. The Ricoh I love for its Snapfocus, its smallness. It´s really fast among people, secured in the wriststrap, and the B&W:s are wonderfully gritty and unclean.
Any closing comments?
Many thanks, Olivier, for putting me and some of my work on display here. And I truly love the work that you do, you and Don Springer, for the street photography community of the world you guys are building.
And just imagine a printed version of The Inspired Eye Magazine … That would really be something! I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
Thank You Tommi for your words of support, everything is a lot of work and words of appreciation go a long way 🙂
About the photographer
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