We fell in love with the work of Teemu Nykänen (@northern_dimension) ever so quickly. The pure and innocent beauty found in his photography always leaves us feeling refreshed. We greatly admire his commitment to keeping the natural order of his pictures in place using extreme delicacy in his Mextures work. The words he often pairs with his pictures create a sense of connection between the viewer and the photographer which is something we find to be both unique and beautiful. Recently, we found ourselves fortunate enough to enjoy a conversation with Teemu where we learned a lot about his life and his loves. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! My name is Teemu and I live in Finland. I've been around the world, but now I live a simple life in a quiet town.
I have a wife and there are also short people living in our house.
The last three years have been very tough for me and my family. My son fought a long and hard battle against cancer but in the end nothing helped. He died in my arms last autumn.
In addition to my family, I love photography, nature, sarcasm and music. Playing the guitar is my main addiction right now.
How was it that you first became interested in photography?
About twenty years ago I borrowed a book about Ansel Adams. His pictures, especially the ones from Yosemite, made a huge impression on me. I just couldn't stop looking at them.
I started to wonder if I could do something similar. Well, I couldn’t. But I have enjoyed trying ever since.
How did that interest in photography translate to Instagram?
I was already interested in mobile photography and I had bunch of semi-decent photos stored in my Dropbox, but I really didn't know what to do with them.
Then one night, I was in the hospital with my son while he was sleeping. I didn't have much to do. I browsed the App Store, found the Instagram app and decided to upload a few shots.
I started from zero. I didn't have hundreds of friends to follow or anything like that. But I soon found some interesting feeds and connected with people from around the world. Instagram became sort of an escape from the reality for me.
So if it began as an escape, what is it to you now?
It is still an escape. But it's also friendly community, a great way to share my work and a good source of interesting photography.
Do you have a favorite photograph that you’ve taken? If so, what makes it stand out in your mind as your favorite?
What makes this my favorite is the decisive moment which I was able to capture. The surface of the water was calm for only a few minutes and there was no time to try anything fancy. But the picture came out good with no need to edit or crop. It's also a very emotional capture for me.
Do you have any tricks or tips that you’ve picked up along the way in regards to mobile photography and/or editing?
It’s nothing earth-shattering, but things like:
Embrace the moment. Your phone is almost always in your pocket, so be ready.
Know your equipment and apps so you don't waste the moment trying to learn them.
One focal length can be a strength.
Use your legs and try several different points of view.
My main tip for the editing is don't over-edit. A good shot can turn into crap by over-editing, but it doesn't work the other way around.
And always review once more after editing. Or make two different edits and compare them before publishing.
What does your editing process typically look like when you sit down to edit?
I usually sit down, go through what I have captured and get rid of the crap. Which usually means most of the shots.
Then I open Snapseed and straighten the horizon. Why is it so hard to keep the phone straight? After that I crop, check levels, saturation and other basic stuff.
Sometimes the image is ready after that, but usually I open it in Mextures next or occasionally I’ll use VSCO.
After that it all depends on my level of patience. I try to avoid over-editing and routines. I usually have a strong vision of what I want and so the next steps might include testing with textures and films in order to get the results I desire.
And I typically shoot landscapes because that's what we have here. Although sometimes the bloody forest is in the front of it and I have to shoot trees.
So, when you do edit with Mextures, how do you generally use the app?
It's quite common for me to start with a formula and then quickly discard it because it wasn't what I wanted after all.
Then I proceed with textures. My favorite textures are usually the ones in the Landscape Enhance pack.
If I'm happy with the results so far I'll have a look at the film presets. It's funny that I have also used quite a few of the films that the Mextures Presets are built to emulate.
At last, I will fine tune the fade, contrast and saturation.
I will also save the formula code and never use it again.
What have been your favorite film presets to use?
It depends a lot on the particular image but I have enjoyed F-Superia and P-690 Cold quite a lot.
Would you care to share some of your formulas with the mextures crowd?
Sure. Here are a few of my favorites:
Formula Code - LTCLRFH - This formula gives a cold, hollow feel. It works well for winter shots.
Formula Code - ZMYKJTT - Add some empty road and fog, then mix with this formula and cook for three minutes. Voilà! You have a horror movie scene.
Formula Code - MPGLRHU - This one is interesting. When used with a black & white photo, the result will be a bit like an old school hand-colored image. Try it with trees.
Formula Code - YWCRIRU - This works well for my forest shots. Beware of the warm, fuzzy feeling in the afternoon light.
Do you feel like Mextures offers anything unique to your editing process?
For me it's the layering system. It's brilliant and fits my needs perfectly. And I also really like those film presets.
Who are some of the people that have most inspired your journey into photography?
The usual suspects I suppose. The influence of Ansel Adams has been huge. Robert Capa for his attitude. And also Fay Godwin.
Are there people that you’ve connected with on Instagram that inspire your work at all?
One way or another every single person I follow on Instagram inspires me. I wouldn't follow them otherwise. One example would be @pketron who has some very inspiring work.
To see much more of Teemu’s work take a peek at his Instagram feed here!