I consider traveling for my work both as a curse and a blessing; damned be the hours spent away from my family and cozy little home but such a blessing to see the world and meet so many friends, new and old, during my travels. Often my trips have been a source of inspiration for my work, bringing to me visual images, techniques and traditions of a different world.
A month ago I had the opportunity to visit my friends and colleagues in beautiful Mexico. After almost two colorful and unforgettable weeks touring Mexico, I swore I will do a “tribute” image when I get home, trying to instill some of the visuals and feelings of the Mexican culture in it.
During the last days of the trip, I saw this Mexican Maya wall ornament (Circle of Life), which sparked an idea I then hazily sketched in my notebook at the airplane back to Finland. The idea was to portray a woman with different aspects of her personality as layers, and use “Dia de Muertos -inspired Mexican Catrinas -makeup to differentiate the layers. I saw it clearly in my head: a plain, naked, open person in the core, protected by the hidden dark side as well as flamboyant outside, like the mask we need to put up sometimes just to show everything is ok.
I put up a casting call for a model after the trip and tried to find a perfect dark-haired woman for the shoot. By some recommendations, the model Ellakerttu saw my message and I think I casted her on the spot when I saw her picture, she was a perfect match for my vision. All the flowers for the image were contributed by local flower shop Rosanna and makeup artist of course who other than my dear friend Laura Puntila. Believe it or not, she made all the headpieces and earrings and necklaces herself! The dress seen in the image was a handmade traditional dress I brought back from Mexico as a souvenir to my wife.
We shot the material needed for this image during one day. Makeup and the photoshoot for three different looks took something like 5 hrs in total, but already seeing the RAW images in my computer made me confident that this image will turn out just like I imagined it.
So here it is .. image is called “Layers of being human”. Thank you, Mexico! Hope I made justice to the amazing culture of yours <3