The Observer

The other day I had an opportunity to watch and document one of my housemates working. Some part of me will always be an event photographer of sorts. I want to be a serious art photographer, whatever that may be, but then again I love documenting people in their work. My favorite part of event photography is trying to capture artists, be it singers, dancers or some other kinds of performers, doing their work and being passionate about it. At that moment, I want to tell the story of the person doing what they love.

I think it's all part of how I like to hide behind the camera. It's a really wonderful shield, actually. Behind my camera, I can go anywhere or do anything but without it I'm shy, awkward and often accidentally rude. Last July I was photographing a friend in a lake and while I can't tolerate cold water at all and swimming outdoors is often a really long process - involving a lot of screaming - for me, I had no trouble going in the water with my camera. Okay, that sounds wrong. But I noticed myself sitting down in the cool lake water without even really caring about it. My poor model was shaking and stuttering and I'm just snapping photos, almost completely submerged, just holding my camera above the surface. I don't know if my photos are good enough to be art, but I sure love creating them.

It's been an experience here to see other artists working and talking to them. I've heard about galleries, exhibitions, curators and selling artwork and I guess it's a bit ridiculous because I don't think I've ever sold a work. I do some commissioned work, in a way; people ask me to photograph or produce some kind of content for them and I do, but as ready, finished work, I've never sold anything. I might try to in this exhibition but I always feel like my work is too narrative for people to buy. I can't imagine it hanging on somebody's wall. Plus I'd be a bit ashamed to sell any prints because, to be honest, the prints are rarely a really good quality. I don't know where people find good print shops. I guess a lot of photographers develop their photos by themselves or in a lab, but I can't afford to do that. So I use more commercial print shops and you can totally tell by the quality of the photos. It's a pity, but then again I'm more used to showing my work in digital form, where it's sort of original, or what it was the moment I created it.

It's hard to imagine ever being curated. It makes me feel a bit sad on occasion, that I'm missing out on all kinds of cool stuff "real" artists can experience but I'll just say what the Japanese say: shoganai, can't be helped. It is what it is. In the end I love photos for the sake of the photos and creating photos gives me a rush. Of course I would love to be recognized, who wouldn't? I crave it and I cry bitter tears every time I get a rejection to any grant or residency proposal. But whether or not I ever get any glory out of this, I'll still keep on doing it.

Watching others work and move on in their careers can make me envious and bitter and that's one part of event photography that I don't particularly like. I often work with other artists and performers and I'm often hired by whoever hired them too, so I see the actual artists being treated very carefully and with respect, while I often vanish into the background with my camera. So, sue me, but once in a while, I'd love to be coddled and petted too! It's a natural human inclination I guess. But I'll live with what I have. I can deal with being the Salieri, you know?

There's only a few days until my exhibition. I'm still not clear what I'll do there, but I have a big bunch of prints and I'll start figuring something out with them on Friday. There are still some second hand shops I want to visit for frames or something else interesting I could incorporate into my exhibition. I also need to buy another bag so I can carry all this stuff home. There are photos I'm not happy with and a lot of prints I'm not happy with, but money is an issue again, so I'll just have to deal. Like I always do! I'm being very complain-y today!

I'm a bit anxious about the exhibition and the artist talk. I don't know what to say. Luckily it will be short, but I'm always afraid I will come off weird or rude, again. I often try to appear as invisible as possible and be as little in the way as possible but it often ends up looking like I'm being uppity or just plain impolite. I can very easily be awkward and I think it's even more obvious here, where I don't know the manners or habits and no amount of trying can really hide me among people I look nothing like.

It's funny how I still don't know any Japanese. I know a few words and can sometimes pick out what people are talking about, but for example in shops, with strangers, I usually have no clue of what's going on. Strangers make me nervous and I forget even the basic greetings. So I just talk English and look like a stupid foreigner who can't be bothered with the manners of the country that's so kindly hosting her. Sorry guys! I wish I'd been able to prepare more for the language. Maybe next time, then?

Luckily I can manage with English among the residency artists. It feels weird to have spoken only English for three weeks, especially when I switch to Finnish when I message my family. There are certain things many of my friends around here use a lot, like "actually" for Preema and "to be honest" for Katsura and a French phrase for "no problem" that Charlotte uses all the time, and when I think of those phrases, I hear them in their respective voices in my head. I want to start copying their accents and it feels as if I could do them, thought I probably couldn't. I wonder what my own accent sounds like or if I have any signature phrases I use a lot but just can't tell because it's me using them.


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