Social media and photography: Julius Kahkonen on his journey into photography through social media
Posted: 28 May 2019
Julius Kähkönen is a 19-year-old full-time digital artist, traveller, and online entrepreneur from Finland. With over 285k Instagram followers built up in just 2 years, Julius’ online journey has given him the opportunity to have total freedom to pursue his passions – photography and travelling – but also to continue teaching his online art courses. Julius shares his thoughts on the connection between photography and social media based on his own experience. You can find out more about Julius here.
On first getting into photography…
I got my first camera in 2016 from my Grandpa. I went out one evening and took some shots and immediately I was hooked – I started exploring different camera settings, and began going out to shoot more often. I then began looking into editing using Lightroom which I found fascinating.
On creating images in his style…
I create art out of the images I take around the world – I get the biggest buzz from combining the shots I take to create something completely unique. The reason I create these types of images is because I feel as though social media is becoming so saturated with similar images, especially on Instagram. My goal is to create something that people instantly recognise as my work, or as something that they’ve never seen before. I also enjoy the challenge of creating ‘new worlds’ using Photoshop – it takes a lot more time than the actual shooting of the image itself, but I love both photographing and editing so it fulfils my creative needs.
On the advice he would give to someone starting their photography journey…
Invest in yourself. Learn as much as you can from shooting and editing – YouTube is a great place to learn from. Another piece of advice I’d give is to not focus too much on having all the gear – it will start to play a bigger role at some point, but you can start with your phone if you don’t have a camera, then slowly progress once you realise you want to take your skills to the next level. Finally, be genuinely passionate. If you’re simply looking for social media attention, it won’t work – you grow with content, not activity. Often, people confuse the two, but if your content is not good, but you’re posting twice a day, you won’t achieve a growth in followers. On the flipside, if your content is good but you never post, it’s impossible to grow. It’s all about getting the balance between great content and persistent activity right.
Focusing on your content and letting people know who you are and what you think is key – if you want to build a brand, it’s super hard without having a face and thoughts behind it. So, get yourself out there – talk to people, focus on the quality of your work, and think about what you can provide to the people who support you.
On how social media has impacted the photography community…
For me, social media has become more competitive and a business for many people – me included. Many people believe that to sustain their business they must post to social media very often, and as a result, can damage their passion for photography. It’s easy to get stressed about your job when it’s all about counting numbers of likes and followers. However, although it takes a lot to be recognised through the noise of social media, it’s also much easier to get your work out there than it once was. Another positive is that it has meant the community has grown and become closer as you can engage directly with likeminded people via social media.
On his workflow…
It all starts with travelling to and shooting different locations – I choose places that are beautiful as they are, but try to image something surreal that will make them even more magical. From this, I take the shots in a way that makes it easier to combine them afterwards. I’ll then go through all of the shots with an idea in mind, and use my library of ‘stock’ photos I’ve taken myself and combine them in Photoshop. My work usually has some sort of glow and fog in it to create a dreamier look.
I taught myself to print with the help of my good friend, Matt Hardy, as I am about to launch an online shop on my website where I’ll be selling my prints. I enjoy the technical challenge of printing – it feels amazing to nail everything, from brightness to colour. I get most of my inspiration from paintings, and I feel people forget how much more meaning a piece of work has when it’s in physical form.
Seeing your image on a screen on social media is nothing compared to seeing your work in physical form. Digital is quickly consumed – you might spend 16 hours on one image and the most amount of time people will look at it is a few seconds. If someone has a print, it’s hung up, looked at, and appreciated more. I highly recommend everyone to print to experience how great it is to hold you own work in your hands.
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