Interview: Tarina Tommiska Photography

Hello, Who are you?
I’m Tarina, originally from Kangasala near Tampere but currently living and working in Helsinki. I graduated and got my Bachelor’s degree of Culture and Arts in January 2017 from the Interactive Media study path of Degree Programme in Media and Arts. After that I was unemployed for a while but then got a job as a marketing assistant at a game studio Lightneer, which is located in Helsinki.

Applying at TAMK was a natural choice because I’ve always lived in Tampere area. Originally I was thinking about starting fine art studies but ended up taking interactive media study path because gaming industry and the field of media has always interested me. As a multi-skilled person it can be difficult to profile yourself because you might not be so sure if you are a photographer, graphic designer, an illustrator or what.

What inspired you to start photography?
My theory of how I ended up working in a creative field is that as a lonely youngster living in a small town I used to get bored and started to take photos and draw to fill my days. It came out naturally and eventually I ended up studying in an upper secondary school specialised in fine art.

How did you develop your photography skills?
Originally I started to take pictures with my parents’ camera and when I was thirteen my father bought me my first SLR camera. I took a lot of artsy pictures and uploaded them to irc-galleria and like every other Finnish teenager at the time. At first I didn’t had models to shoot so I learned to photograph myself and became quite good at it. At the time I also got my sister’s old film camera and learned to shoot on traditional film.

During my studies I bought a new camera and started to take photography more seriously. I didn’t have a courage to call myself a real photographer before I started to earn money from my photos and my works were featured in exhibitions. I started to take portraits of other people, at first it was quite hard to get them in front of camera because I didn’t had much content in my portfolio to show. After a while when people saw my photos they started to ask me if I could take similar photos of them.

What do you want to say with your photography?
I like to take very unembellished photos of people. People are most interesting when they are portraying an angry face or are not at their best. I don’t want to take too polished, premeditated or photoshopped photos, I want to take natural photos, maybe even in a slightly unflattering light. I think my strength as a photographer is that I can take photos which shows the subject’s true personality. Everyone has their own unique features and I can emphasize them in a flattering way – but not too perfectly – because that is what makes a portrait interesting.

Sometimes when I’m taking photos of myself I think to myself: Do I really look like that? Then I remember that people don’t see you the same way as you see yourself. If someone has seen a photo taken by me and wants me to take the same kind of photo of them, it probably won’t look the same anymore. Sometimes it can be an unpleasant surprise to the subject. It is rewarding to take photos of people in which they are feeling beautiful and picturesque. I think everyone is picturesque in their own way. I don’t use very heavy equipment, people are less intimidated by a small camera and therefore it makes easier for people to relax in front of my camera.

4. What is your process and what are your favourite tools?
Usually I don’t plan my photoshoots. I have some kind of theme or idea on my mind and the end result will be something like that or not. Sometimes when I’m on a car and see something cool passing by I just have to stop and take photos, it is important to utilize moments like this.
If you are at your friend’s place and the evening sun is shining beautifully why shouldn’t I capture that moment. All the best photos are taken spontaneously.

Whose work has influenced you the most?

Igor Pjörrt


If You Leave

Luke Austin

Wilma Hurskainen

Joel Karppanen

Marta Bevacqua

Among your works, which one is your favorite?
I’m currently working on a project where I take photos of my best friend Jarkko who is now living in Iceland. I’ve been shooting him now for two years every time I see him, sometimes also with his boyfriend. There is something very scandinavian and moody in the aesthetics of the photos I have taken of them.
Originally I was planning to capture the Icelandic drag queen scene but unfortunately someone living there had already done that. But Jarkko is my favorite subject and my favorite person to shoot. It involves many things, sexual and gender minorities and a volcanic island.

Do you have plans to continue with photography?
Yes but I still have no idea what I’m going to be when I grow up because I have so many different skills. Currently I’m identifying as a photographer and a graphic artist at the same time. I’ve always thought I could work as a freelancer photographer, no matter what my actual day job is.

My plan B is that if I ever won the lottery and didn’t need to work anymore, I would move to Iceland and start a photography safari. Even though I have a day job now I’ve still aimed to keep photography in my life. It is a freetime thing, relaxing and fun.

Where we can find more your work?

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