Konsta Linkola is an award-winning adventure photographer from Finland. We chatted with the self-taught photographer about his passion for outdoor culture, which is reflected in his work. Despite being just 22, he has already carved out a strong reputation in the industry and, in 2011, nabbed the coveted Nordic National Geographic Photo of the Year Contest.
I’m self-taught and don’t think education is indispensable in order to succeed in photography. But the urge to learn more is.
What, or who, got you to start in photography?
I got interested in photography through a few scouting friends when I was 15. They were doing some rad macro photography and it seemed cool. I got my camera quite soon but didn’t get the inspiration to experiment with it until I moved to Germany for my high school exchange year when I was 16.
What is your favourite piece of photography equipment?
My favourite piece in my bag must be the 35mm lens which helps me to capture the world perfectly, the way I see it. Sure, I use wide angles and tele lenses too but that prime stays on my Canon most of the time.
What is your favourite photography rule to break?
I love breaking rules, but it’s still good to know why they were created in the first place. I’m self-taught and don’t think education is indispensable in order to succeed in photography. But the urge to learn more is. I like to learn by doing, from colleagues and friends as well as from tutorials, and that applies to business as well. I started my first company before I really knew photography. But even though I’m self-taught I don’t leave it there. I seek new stuff to learn and ways to question my old habits everywhere.
How would you describe your style?
My style is very cinematic and kind of a mixture of documentary and commercial photography. I’ve always loved going outdoors but it was only few years ago that I got into photographing my adventures. I’m highly interested in outdoor cultures and rural lifestyles, which reflects in my portfolio and style. When it comes to post-production, I love the aesthetics of film and try to go as natural as possible.
What inspires you?
I get inspired by natural phenomena and different kinds of light. Since a kid I’ve loved to do varying activities like skiing and kayaking in nature, those inspire me a lot too. Lately, I’ve also felt that the arctic tends to interest me more than some warmer locations.
Which photographers influenced you? How did they influence your approach?
I follow few special photographers out there who’s work I truly admire. The first name I usually drop is New York-based portrait photographer Joey L. Even though Joey’s work is very different from mine, I’ve learned quite a lot from his approach in portraits and the way he builds his portfolio. We both are self-taught and rather young in this field. Another name I have to mention is Marc Adamus, who is a true legend among today’s landscape photographers. The way he works with natural light is just amazing. Today when there are loads of amazing photos online to see it’s sometimes hard to see the good in your own work. So I try to minimize the time I spend looking for new artists and work to get inspired and concentrate on my own thing. That way I can keep up what the ones that I really admire are doing and be more social with the ones I know.
What motivates you to keep taking photos?
My motivation to keep pushing forward probably comes from my entrepreneur soul that wants to actually do stuff and not just dream about it. Now when I do professional assignments I have started to learn how to keep the spark alive in the doing and the key in that is my personal work. I don’t mean I don’t like the work, I love it! But by making personal projects that I truly care about I kind of have a hobby that supports my career and creative skills. Both the personal work and assignments go into the same portfolio and have the same feeling and look.
I’ve met a lot of people, including non-photographers, who lack a passion for something and that is a very crucial step in finding the motivation to keep pushing forward. My passion for outdoors will probably never fade away and I draw a lot of my inspiration and motivation from there.
What was your career path – how did you go from aspiring photographer to professional?
When looking back at the start of my career, everything started a bit upside down. I came back from that exchange-student year in Germany in 2011 and soon after won the Nordic National Geographic “Photo of the Year 2011” competition. I was 18-years-old at the time. That was a huge incentive to start my own company and take more photos. I wasn’t bad at the time but I had no vision yet. But with the support of my family and freedom to experiment, I found that vision and have built the career little by little. Now after 5 years I’m starting to feel that I know what I do and know where I’m going. I didn’t study photography until 2015 when I moved to Berlin to join a local art university but I still consider myself self-taught. But overall the most important thing for me the last 3 years has been creating a powerful portfolio and recognisable style, which is the key when making the step to go professional. Meanwhile, the best thing one can do is to network and be the good guy because nobody wants to work it the bad guy.