Workshop: NLUX ACADEMY
CASE: CREATIVE LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
PHOTOS: Viola Minerva and participants
text: Marika Luukkanen
LOCATION: Hahkiala Manor
NLUX Studio’s first photography workshop was full of stunning table settings and stylised details. Participants were able to learn and experiment in real time, all whilst being surrounded by the manor's regal atmosphere.
“Nature, food and beautiful surroundings are the biggest sources of inspiration for me, and I couldn’t imagine a better place for a wonderful workshop in August than Hahkiala Manor! I hope you are inspired to learn the secrets of lifestyle photography and spend a wonderful day with us! ”
Viola Minerva Virtamo
The soft light of August inspired us to stylise beautiful food settings both indoors and outdoors. Our arrangements feature game, fish, and seasonal vegetables.
In the Rose Garden, we were able to photograph a delectable afternoon tea set-up. This arrangement consisted of a rich selection of delicacies and sweets. At the end of the day, we photographed a whiskey bar built into the back of a jeep, hunting dogs, our wonderful models and a delicious dinner table setting.
The day was full of lovely lifestyle and food set-ups, good locally-sourced food, inspiring photography, relaxing get-togethers, and many new insights.
Rays of Light
Just as you turn around the bend, Hahkiala Manor comes into view and one enters into another world. One side of the beautiful manor faces Hauho Church in the distance, while the other faces a never-ending field of wheat and a deep blue lake.
The landscape sets the scene for the day to come: the Creative Lifetyle Photography Workshop led by Viola Minerva.
Just before the entrance to Hahkiala Manor, you step into the open yard and take a good look at the building. One doesn't have to be a true connoisseur of architecture to appreciate the exterior of the light yellow manor before you. The building blends right into the beautiful, calm surroundings. It seems to exude the countless stories and experiences of generations before us. This time, ten photographers will create their own special memories in this house as they enter the doors of Hahkiala.
The photographers are attentive and keen to learn during Viola's lecture. The teaching session lasts an hour and a half, though time seems to pass quicker when everyone is having fun. The warm summer air fills the lecture room, with rays of natural light shining through the curtains. Viola's seminar is both inspiring and enjoyable. The photographers acquire much new knowledge and insight.
All that's left to do is to put it into practice.
Right next to the lecture hall sits a long, wooden table. On top of it sits carefully arranged still-life subjects. The vegetables, mushrooms and berries of the harvest season have been accompanied by a taxidermy pheasant, rustic tableware and lush floral arrangements. This prompts the photographers to instantly grab a camera and begin shooting. Viola’s advice on color theory, compositions, and angles light up in their minds as they move around the table. Soft, clicking camera sounds slowly fill the room.
NLUX's Marika and Hanna have carefully curated these arrangements to the best of their abilities. The day has just begun and more brilliant still-life arrangements await. The hostess of the manor, Anne, drops nuggets of the manor's past as the programme continues. It reminds us that we are in a culturally and historically significant place.
“For me, the most important thing about a picture is the feeling it gives you,” says one talented photographer. The photos tell a story of people and places. They exude the atmosphere that contained within them. When a picture manages to capture something that can be felt within, that's when the magic happens.
“For me, light is a key component,” another photographer continues. He wouldn’t bother to shoot even a UFO if it dropped from the sky if it were too bright outside. Hanna then became the official "cloud hunter" of the day, with all the photographers waiting eagerly to take their next shot once it was overcast enough.
The day is half over and it’s time to freshen up. The cups sparkle with the taste of rhubarb and each mouthful of pike steak and its accompanying side dishes delights the senses. Everything is produced, picked, fished and hunted locally.
One after another, the photographers share their stories and why they decided to join the workshop. Each unique, heartfelt story inspires the table. Perhaps the air here simply exudes some sort of mansion magic?
Each photographer has their own reason for pursuing photography in the first place. Some fell in love with it after receiving their first camera – “like a drug”, one quipped. For others, their passion had only blossomed later on – “I wish I had started earlier”. Everyone shoots with their own style, from a fresh new photographer from Oulu to the a seasoned enthusiast from Hanko.
Though no one except Viola was a food photographer, everyone was inspired to experiment with still-life and food stills. We explored our strengths and weaknesses and opened our minds to new things.
The group was diverse, with a few complete newbies and some multidisciplinary masters – even if they were too humble to admit it.
As we got to know each other, we enjoyed brainstorming and get inspired by each other’s work.
We then moved to a linen-covered table in the middle of the summer garden. On top of the lightly draped cloth there lay a delicate arrangement of pink flowers, beautiful glasses and cups, decorations and delicious sweets. An excellent dessert for both the tummy and the eyes.
An Eventful Evening
The day seemed short, but was chockfull of activities and programmes. In addition to the food, we had also been photographing models in the landscape. We had even gotten the lively hunting dogs involved, which fit the atmosphere perfectly.
The models adapted nicely into the various landscapes and settings, playing with various angles and ideas. Romping through the hay field, the pictures turned out quite Vogue-esque.
In the yard in front of the shed, there stood a long table decorated with candles and floral arrangements where dinner would later be served. Each table setting of they day had been a unique creation of its own, each featuring different shades and moods. This provided the photographers with more diverse subjects to work with.
We sit gratefully at the table to enjoy fresh savoury pies, salads and good service. We’ve been wonderfully cared for all day by the lovely service staff at Hahkiala.
The still-life arrangements didn’t end there. Before sunset, a vintage jeep is brought onto the scene. The back of the jeep opens to unveil a gentlemanly whiskey bar. The hostess’s hunting dogs jump into the car, just into view of the cameras, adding to the atmosphere. They sit and pose languidly for the 10 photographers until the last golden rays of the evening disappear into the horizon.
To end off the evening, we sit in the heat of the sauna with full bellies and hearts. As we reflect on the day that has passed, we sit in appreciation of Finland's beautiful landscapes and historical places. Not only did we manage to create wonderful pictures and photographs, but also warm memories of friendship and camaraderie. That is true luxury.