Simon Kerola

Posted: January 22nd, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: interviews | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

It is important to create stories for yourself
Simon Kerola

During Paris Photo fair last November, I had coffee with photographer Simon Kerola while he was spending a couple of days in Paris. He had a picture exhibited at Image Nation during Paris Photo and was enjoying time off.

What is a typical day of work?
It’s strange you know because I used to wake up,  leave my house and go to work. But nowadays I just wake up, make some coffee and go downstairs and my office is right there. Going through what’s new is always first on the list and then I just keep pushing on different projects and ideas. 
I try to check out at least one location a day. Sometimes they are new places or places that I already visited but I want to experience its difference in light. 

Who are the people in your photographs? Are they close to you?
They are people I see or meet, friends from friends. It is not really about who the person is, it is more about the characteristics: how he or she looks, behaves… Creating a character is important for me. I am trying to stay somewhat far from fashion photography but leaving it open. 

On your Instagram account, the name is Johnny Keethon, is it an alter ego?
There were a lot of abandoned houses in the neighborhood where I grew up. And there was this one house, in particular, the common family villa but really strange. I went there when I was younger, to smoke cigarettes, hang around, and eventually start taking photos. It said ‘Keethon died here’ on a kitchen cabinet. A few years later the house was gone and when I made my Instagram the name Keethon came to use and put together with the first name Johnny. I choose that name with the meaning it could be anyone. Just like Keethon.

As a photographer, were you influenced by movies?
I never watched a movie and told myself ‘I want to do the same thing for my own work’. My photographs are pieces from my everyday surroundings put together into what you see.
But since I’ve watched a lot of them, I think it plays its part. 
When I started doing photography, I discovered other works from people like Kyle J. Thompson. These images of abandoned America gave me a feeling that was the first introduction to where I wanted to take my passion. 

I was struck by the use of color in your pictures, somehow it looks eerie.
I remember reading ‘to print as a painter’ giving myself a completely new mindset for everything I did with my work from that point. 
I worked my way towards the idea of what a painting looks like. A lot of happy mistakes took me there. The photograph possible to achieve this color with is instantly noticeable when first going through developed rolls. It doesn’t work every time. 

Which camera do you have?
I have a digital Canon 5D Mark II that barely works and a Contax G2 that is a recent buy. I got a broken wrapped up in tape Canon A-1 that I rarely use, but is hard to throw away because of it’s amazing light leaks!

What about your current projects?
When I look at my work, I see differences with what I was doing a year ago and now. And that’s the kind of progression I expect myself to see every year, hopefully. 
This kind of development leaves me with more knowledge and much more care about what I do. Projects are starting to take a longer time for me these days because I get really selective in what is worth doing. And how to put perfection into everything. 
It’s all a struggle but I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Simon Kerola lives and works in Sweden.