Osma Harvilahti is a man in high demand. The young Finnish photographer has made a name for himself shooting dreamy shots of beautiful women, ethereal landscapes and enviable interiors. His impressive 120mm images have led him to regular commissions from the magnificent Apartamento. Shooting on film has become something of a rarity in the digital age and all too often photographers rely on post-production to create the desired effect in their pictures. But Osma has crafted his own unique style by perfecting the use of a limited range of hardware and maintaining a purity of vision throughout all his work, personal and commercial.
We were so impressed by Osma’s portfolio that we had to ask him a few questions about his process, his desk space and what he gets up to in his spare time.
Where do you work?
Even though I feel quite comfortable working at a studio, I enjoy the presence of unknown people and bumping into random friends. I like to keep moving and that’s why I enjoy working in various places. If I’m editing I like to hang out in cafés and bars, where ever I feel comfortable and can grab a cup of coffee or pint of beer while doing otherwise time consuming and boring work.
I’m in a situation where I’m traveling between Helsinki and New York so I need to stay compact and have my desktop as portable as possible. While I’m in New York I really like to work in professional labs. Print Space NYC has become my absolute favourite, and while shooting film I spend quite a lot of time there going through my negatives and scanning the commissioned work with their gear. It’s a cozy place and there are some incredible print portfolios by some of the worlds best photographers lying here and there.
How does your working day start?
I’m not a morning person at all but lately I’ve felt a great pressure to get my self up and moving to keep all the things rolling. This is probably because I feel like I have to work between two totally different cities and both require different approaches to portfolio work and routines.
If I’m planning shoots I usually start the day by going through magazines, websites and blogs to set myself to a creative mood. If I’m shooting I usually have to start early because I really like to work with natural light. That also means that I’m often done by the afternoon and shooting days rarely stretch to unbearable lengths.
How do you work and how has that changed?
Finding my routines and technical standards has resulted in shooting all of my work with the same camera and lenses, which I feel serves the overall look and the way I enjoy working. I’d like to keep my things and business humble and simple. At the moment I’m spending more and more time creating and planning projects and different concepts for shoots, while building my personal portfolio.
Last year I experienced a major lack of inspiration towards photography as a medium. I felt like I needed more challenge and found myself doing street photography in New York. I’ve not really been the biggest fan of street photography in it’s most classical form but I found myself looking for certain light, combinations of colors, shapes, patterns, materials combined with sharp composition work. This very selective approach to documentary photography takes a lot of time and patience because, particularly when photographing people, when you see the right elements starting to turn into a photograph there’s usually a lot of distractions and unwanted movement, resulting in unsuccessful pictures.
This approach to photography has also influenced my commissioned, fashion and portrait work as I now have a lot more requirements concerning the style, location and props. I’m aiming to come up with interesting photography consisting of careful colour coordination, natural expression and a visual narrative and continuity in relation to the whole body of both my personal and editorial work.
"A beautiful place, a beautiful girl and some leisure time, what more could a photographer ask for?"Osma Harvilahti
Where would we find you when you’re not at work?
When I’m not working I’m most likely doing something photography related anyway. For instance If I’m planning a holiday with my girlfriend, photography is a good way to start as it automatically leads us to the most interesting and visual places. A beautiful place, a beautiful girl and some leisure time, what more could a photographer ask for?
I guess a part of me is working all the time. My other passions are good food and wine so I spend quite a lot of time in restaurants and bars.
Would you intern for yourself?
Yes, why not! I feel like I’m getting nicer and more interesting projects coming my way all the time so it might be fun for somebody to see how I work. Then again, I’ve never had an assistant and I’ve never felt I would need one except for carrying some overloaded camera bags, but I guess it’d be nice to share some ideas and a cup of coffee with like-minded people willing to learn and help me out with stuff.
I think photography should be fun, people should leave all that ego bullshit behind and focus on being nice and creating beautiful work. I’m sure all the interns and assistants would appreciate that too.