I know that I disqualified myself at the beginning of this challenge. when I said I have tried this before and that I didn’t make it. But my past experience didn’t stop me thinking that this time would be a success. Yesterday I decided to give the challenge my best try. I started by telling my twelve-year-old son that I was going to make an exact copy of the picture “Guys? Hey, guys? This ain’t funny! Guys, where are you? HELLO?” by Vesa Lehtimäki. It’s a picture that I really like. My son looked at me and smiled, looked at Vesa Lehtimäki’s pictures and responded, “You will never make it. You will never do the same picture. I know you, you will do your own picture and it will look like yours.” I smiled back at him and said, “I’ll give it a try…”
I went to the grocery store and bought salt and baking soda to make snow. I decided to set up the studio in the kitchen to be able to use soft natural lights. I decided to go for long shutter speed and realized that I have no idea if Vesa Lehtimäki works that way. But it was my solution to get the high-key lighting that I really like in the picture. I thought the natural light in the kitchen would help me to lose the shadows. If I had thought the light source through, I would have realized that Vesa Lehtimäki probably works with a soft light that comes right ahead of the subject. My lighting choice was my first error … because I couldn’t get rid of the shadows. They are soft but the are there … I could have taken them away in post production (but I didn’t), because I like them; for me they make the picture come to life.
My next big mistake was that I hadn’t looked at the picture carefully enough and I put the gun in the wrong hand, although that was easy to correct. Then there was the “snow”; should it be in front of the model or not? Since I worked with a long shutter speed I could try both. I still don’t get how he get’s the helmet without snow and that softness around the legs. Does the trooper in Vesa Lehtimäkis shot even have legs? My troopers helmet got all filled with snow, and the goggles are all filled with snowflakes (salt and baking soda). Should I have done the softness in photo-shop?
Since I see this as a photographic challenge, my next problem was the white balance and the post-production, in addition I have issues with the model. I have the wrong version of a snow-trooper and that detail makes my picture all different. The printing is different in the eyes so I can’t get them all black (and the baking soda/salt was in the way as well). I thought the model wouldn’t be such a big deal but when I compare the pictures I think it matters…
No, I didn’t get an exact copy of the image, there’s so much that’s wrong in terms of perspective, composition, lightning, framing and so on… As I said earlier, I never thought I would achieve my goal, but I have learned a great deal. This challenge made me look at another photographers work and really see it in all the details, composition, framing, technical aspects, and then look at my own work and see all the errors or maybe that me…
And as my son said before I even started: this will end up with you taking a picture that is you and only you. And it did became that, even though I borrowed someone else’s setting. My picture is called “the little matches girl”. I called it this because as I was standing in my kitchen making snow and winter, it made me think of the story by H.C. Andersen‘s about the little girl with matches that she lights in the cold winter night and how she is dreaming about warmth and love. So I decided to make a version of my own. In my version it’s a dream about Teddy, and all the comfort that comes with him.
If you didn’t do the challenge, I really hope you will try to make a copy of someone else’s work because you will have a great opportunity to really look at a picture and see what makes it genuine.
Thank you Vesa Lehtimäki for the amazing image “Guys?! Hey guys…” that I really like and that got me to try to make a copy for a moment or two…
If you did the challenge – how did it go? I’m so curious, tell me all about it, and share you try here, on Facebook or Instagram.
Nice post Kristina. I missed the one with the challenge, though I kind of started it by accident with this shot from a week ago: https://www.instagram.com/p/_6wbWGrinM/?taken-by=davirasm (I didn’t try to copy anything with that, the light just came in right and I suddenly had that shot right in front of me.)
If I were to copy one, I’m thinking it could be this: https://www.instagram.com/p/9b8hiQKGif/?taken-by=kalexanderson
Or would you like to challenge me with something else?
Dear David, I love that backlight picture, so nice in black and white. And I’m really proud to be mentioned as a source of inspiration. I’d love to see you version of Bobba, water and teddy – go for it.
Great post and wonderful challenge. It doesn’t surprise me that you had difficulty recreating Vesa’s image. I think we can be too cavalier when we look at images and say, “I can do that” for many of the images that we see. But when it comes to actually doing the work, we find that it isn’t that simple. Your comments about how the snow doesn’t accumulate on the stormtrooper our that there is no snow in front of his eyes really does beg the question “How did he do it?” There are so many other little touches that make this image special and personally I would like it to stay a mystery.
Sometimes I try to recreate my own images and I can’t even do that, I can’t even image trying to recreate someone else’s image. Sometimes when we are shooting, there’s a special moment when it all comes together and that moment is impossible to retreat, even if you’re the original author!
I love how you turned the whole experience to your own use and created your own image. Bravo!
Thank you Shelly, As I have waived all the time I know this is one of the hardest task one can try, but as you point out it’s well worth, because you see the picture in a new way and learn a lot about looking at pictures, you see details that you haven’t thought about before, and it ends up with you realizing and seeing thing that is you compared to the photographer you try to imitate.
This was a fun read. Not that I would enjoy your struggle, but it reminded me of how the original came to be. Without telling the whole story, my photograph is not what I tried to do at the time, it’s one big failure, like many of my photographs.
The thing in which you did succeed is replicating the process behind my photo. The Little Matches Girl came from a process exactly like mine: start from an idea, make the setup, try to execute the idea, see what else there is to try. That’s not really just my process but one of the many creative processes people use. I use it a lot, though. But in this regard, I think you succeeded brilliantly and ended up with an original image with a nice story to it. That is the greatest thing.
Thank you 🙂 It was really fun to try. And I think you point out one of the most important things in the creative process, the failure. When I start making a picture my vision is clear, but with my lack of ability (or lack of knowledge, or lac of whatever.) The result (the picture) becomes a failure, and in that gap, between what I want and what I get, there many of my pictures comes to life. And many of my failures has lead me to new knowledge … failure is a great deal of a creative process. Thank you for your nice words about my photo – my tribute to your picture 🙂
Kristina, I want to say that as soon as I saw it at the top of the post, not only did I know you chose to copy one of Vesa’s pictures but also which one. So even if it’s clearly visible that the photo ended in your own style, for me it’s also obvious it’s inspired by Vesa’s work. I think it’s a wonderful mix of the style of both of you.
I don’t know how to say it, but those words make the picture all worth it, thank you!