One of the things I love the most about Monday Masters is when someone I’ve not come across emerges. It’s such a brilliant way for us to share photographers who aren’t necessarily household names (like Cartier Breson) but still deserve the mantel of master. This week’s pick, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen is one such name (at least for me). I was delighted that David Barrett introduced me to her work.
Who is Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen is a Finish street photographer who was born in 1948 but has lived in Britain since the 1960s. Her work has mostly focused around the north east (in particular Newcastle) and her break through came with Byker a book looking at the area of the same name (I bet many English folk my age will remember it from the TV series Byker Grove).
Later on she returned to Byker and took a very different approach. On the surface it is obvious that there was a shift from black and white to colour but in an interview with the Guardian she explained how her approach had to change from shooting people candidly on the street to getting permission.
I think that offers an interesting insight into evolving as a photographer and how we can take a topic or theme but apply very different views and approaches to it. One of her quotes that really resonated with me was
My photo Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen photo pick
I choose her image Young couple in a backyard. I think this is a great example of an “open” photo. One where we are left to fill in the blanks. We are only told they are a couple but it’s really unclear what is going on. They appear to be having a disagreement of some sort and the man appears to be mostly naked, possibly completely naked and his hair looks wet from water or maybe sweat. The hooded child looks upset and not trying not to look at the couple.
I love the light and tones created by this image with the line come down from the wall and the contrast between the man’s skin and the brick wall. There’s a really nice balance between layers here which adds great complexity to the scene.
Join in with #MondayMasters
It’s easy to join in with Monday Masters, all you need to do is find a picture of Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen that you like and share it (via a blog post, on Twitter or on Facebook) with the hashtag if you want other people to find it. If you want, say something about the picture. Keep an eye out next Sunday for what master is next.