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INTIMATE LIGHT / INTIIMI VALO (2022)

Photography: Tero Puha
Visual Design: Ville Karppanen
Contributors: Antti Kauppinen and Juhani Brander
Hardcover
Unilater Binding
152 pages
Size 24 x 29 cm
Finnish/English
Publisher: Parvs Publishing 2022
ISBN 978-952-7441-14-5

MAN AT HIS MOST BARE

Photographer Tero Puha has collected the best male portraits he has taken over the years in a wonderful photo book Intimate Light.

Intimate Light is the award-winning photographer and visual artist Tero Puha’s new work. The cover of Intimate Light immediately reveals that it is not an ordinary photo book. Puha has been planning his work for a long time, and its photographs have been created in a period of almost thirty years, 1994–2021. The book contains an interview with curator and non-fiction author Antti Kauppinen about Puha. In it, Puha says that he wanted to create a holistic viewing experience where all elements support each other, right down to the feel of the paper.

Here he succeeds. The size of the book, high-quality folding and printing create a framework for a photographic work that gets under the viewer’s skin. Puha says that in the future he wants to focus more and more on the publication of themed photo books, because the books will remain after the photo exhibition ends.

Light and shadows caress the bodies of the naked men, while Puha’s camera draws their outlines and records the looks, expressions and movements of the subjects. Those photographed are not professional models, but a variety of ordinary men: young and old, athletic, sensitive and androgynous. However, they all have a strong charisma in common, which radiates from the pictures. Some of the models are people close to Puha, so it is also a kind of personal visual biography. Some of the people he has met only once, at the time of the shoot. He has not planned the shooting sessions very much in advance, they have arisen spontaneously. This can be seen in the relaxed, liberated atmosphere of the pictures. The subjects do not pose, but appear as themselves.

Initially convinced of the superiority of analog photography, Puha has later noticed that a digital camera often offers better options for different situations. The way Puha is portrayed has also changed over the years. In the earlier pictures, he stayed further away from his subjects, and the models appeared serious. Today, he has become bolder, and the rigid sculpture has changed to more personal portraits of the models with their gestures and expressions. The passage of time can also be seen in the pictures. He has photographed some of his models every fifteen years. These pairs of pictures on adjacent pages show the signs of time on the human body. Some of the black and white photographs resemble printmaking art with their controlled composition and aesthetics. The joy and playfulness radiating from other – often colored prints – show that the models have thrown themselves into the shooting project wholeheartedly.

A man is rarely an object, the object of attention, because usually that role belongs to women. The interviewer asks Puha, what kind of feedback have the pictures received in this sense? Puha hasn’t really thought about it. However, he states: “I’ve heard the weirdest comments from some of my gay friends, who for some reason assume that my photo shoots with men will culminate in sex”. However, this has not happened, as the shoots have been friendly and professional. And it’s not enough that the person being photographed is a beautiful man, and the light and composition essential to the photo are in order. The picture must also convey an emotional state. “Something inexplicable must be present,” Puha states. Then the pictures become art.

The work includes previously unpublished poems by author Juhani Brander . Beautiful hands of a beautiful person. / Let me hang them on the wall, hands. / Give the nights when the fingers come towards. The pictures of the emotionally strong work prove the old wisdom: one picture says more than a thousand words. Many of the models in the book look openly and confidently at the photographer – and at us viewers – as if to say: this is who I am, a human at its most bare. HANNELE SALMINEN Read the original article here.

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