from the Balkan photography
INTERVIEW: Arja Heinonen Riganas
by Vicky Markolefa
Why photography and most importantly, why street photography?
I remember when I was about 5 years old and I was sitting in a dark room watching my dad developing photos and how exciting it was. My father was an amateur photographer and maybe I got inspired from my childhood even though I started to photography decades later. I did always liked photography, but when I bought my first dslr camera, I found my way of expressing myself through camera lens.
Street photography because it’s so exciting and fun. You never know what you will find behind the corner. It’s a rousing feeling being out there looking for a perfect shot, that decisive moment. Sometimes hunting and sometimes fishing and the click is always unique. You have this one opportunity and you can never repeat it.
Share some memorable experiences from your photo walks.
Usually I don’t talk with people and I took photos without their knowledge, but of course there are exceptions.
One that I remember was when I was visiting with other photographers greek island Lipsi. People were so friendly and everybody said hello to you and it was easy to talk with them. That weekend there was a wedding on the island and it doesn’t happen every year on the island with only 700 inhabitants. It was a big event and everybody was talking about upcoming wedding. On the wedding day a passerby invited us to the bride’s home. Musicians were playing traditional greek music and bride’s relatives were dancing on the yard while a bride was dressing. We were treated like friends and we were invited into the hose and offered wine and pastries. And after we escorted the bride to groom’s home accompanied by music.
How important is your 'personal style' for your photography?
Yes, it’s important to have your own style and perspective, because there are so many talented photographers and having a well-defined style allows us to stand out and be unique. It’s something that takes time and I feel that I’m still on my way to find it.
Is there a female gaze?
I think there is no singular female gaze, nor one singular female style, but every woman street photographer has her own personal style.
What makes a "good image"?
“I think good dreaming is what leads to good photographs” – Wayne Miller
A street photo needs a clearly defined subject.
It should have a good light and composition and tell a story.
In my photos I usually pay attention to elements like lights and shadows, the rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry, shapes, texture, patterns, interesting faces and characters and peoples’ bodylanguage.
A good photograph is one that comes from your soul and explains how you see the world.
Instagram and photography. What is your view of this relationship?
My opinion is that instagram is very important platform for photographers. It’s like you have a permanent photo exhibition, and your online portfolio.
I think I am not only an artist, but a brand too. Instagram has given to me opportunities that I haven’t had otherwise and I have met wonderful people with it.
Arja Heinonen Riganas was born and raised in Finland. After high school, she studied marketing at a business school and after her studies she moved to Athens where she still lives. She works in a Finnish Property Management company and she is amateur photographer since 2017.
She has attended photography seminars at Pragma Seminars 2017-2018 and at METApolis 2018-2020 as well as some photography workshops. From 2021 she attends street photography seminars led by Andreas Kamoutsis.
She has taken part in several group photography exhibitions.
Some of her photographs have been published in print and online magazines.
She is member of women street photographers from 4/2021 when she was one of the finalists in women street photographers virtual exhibition.
She always carries camera with her, as she never knows where the next picture is hiding.
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