Photo Essay


A Holiday in Helsinki

Between hours spent staring down long stretches of dirty highway, shoveling snow and reasoning with the occasional security guard for “one more try” at any given spot, street snowboarding can be a grind. But this trip to Helsinki was different. With sunset at 3 p.m., elongated evenings provided plenty of time to immerse ourselves in the culture of Finland’s southern capital city. It came as a welcome change of pace. And for a trip that was outside the norm, I decided to experiment with its accompanying documentation.

I’ve always loved to scratch, burn and mistreat film negatives. I’m attracted to the permanence of the action, the same feeling that comes with painting a big, dirty strike across a blank canvas. Using film from a Pentax 6×7 cm medium-format camera, I wanted to insert our street riding into a wider context—an inclusive portrayal of the city, people and society, and how we as snowboarders relate to it all.

The feeling I got from each picture dictated my expression on its negative. “What was this rider feeling at this moment?” I’d think, and from there would add relative quotes or details reminiscent of the scene. I darkened different parts of the negatives using chemicals that erase the silver salts, and added extra ink to areas of the images that needed brightening. The negatives’ gelatin surface presented challenges that forced new techniques of marking the image—scratching with etching tools, rolling various objects on negatives to add texture, and creating frames around a picture to give it a painted look…

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