When I embarked on my “They work(ed) with Poets” journey, I thought it would be easy. The truth is, it is not. The people I get to interview have so many layers and they are so rich in experience, colours and arts. I knew it would be rewarding, I did not know how much 🤩. There is something about Tiia Öhman’s answers that somehow made me feel less alone in my own endeavours.
Dear readers, you asked for it so I obliged 🥰 and what a treat it is too. Tiia Öhman, Poets of the Fall official photographer, has kindly agreed to answer Misfit Heart’s questions. Tiia isn’t just a photographer, she is a painting artist, a writer, a designer, in short a creator. She needs no introduction for most of you, but to the new comers, and the old, here is a conversation with Tiia Öhman.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to dig in 😎.
[Misfit] What was the starting point of your creative journey? The triggering moment?
[Tiia] My mom always says I started drawing before I started walking. I was always holding a crayon or a pen, doodling away.
[Misfit] What came first? The photography, the painting, the writing… marketing.
[Tiia] It was the drawing and painting. I went to an art school as a kid and Savonlinna Art High School from 15 to 18. I took photos then too, but they were really crappy and just for fun.
[Misfit] When and how did you know that this career path was it for you? No plan B, no net.
[Tiia] I’ve always known I want to do something creative. I do remember wanting to become a veterinarian when I was little, but then someone told me they also have to put down animals and that was the big NOPE for me. So, I kept on dreaming of a creative life.
[Misfit] Any advice to anyone who would like to “jump” without a net? 😄
[Tiia] My choices haven’t always been the best – I’ve been indebted and gotten into other trouble as well, so actually my best advice would be to always play it at least a little bit safe. Keep studying for a bit longer, maybe get an actual degree in something at least, that way you can take bigger risks with other stuff and always have something to fall on. It sounds like a boring middle-aged / parent advice, but you know… the adults *do* know best, haha.
But if you have a creative passion, keep at it. Network with other similar-minded folks, find your community for inspiration and support. Start small, always deliver your best but don’t sell yourself too cheap. The work will come with the experience, little by little.
[Misfit] Sound advice! In other words, never jump without a ‘chute 😉.
[Misfit] In a few words, what is Fangirl Quest?
[Tiia] A travel blog we used to run with my friend Satu. We visited filming locations of various famous tv-shows and movies and took these so called sceneframing photos (google it, it’s hard to explain in words). It’s been inactive for almost two years now, though, thanks to COVID-19 and real life taking over.
[Misfit] Have a look at the blog here: Fangirl Quest
Since there is “quest” in the project’s name, how do you pick the destination?
[Tiia] Mostly it’s stuff we love ourselves, and places we can afford to visit etc.
[Misfit] Or does the destination pick you?
[Tiia] Sometimes, yes, I guess! We’ve done collaborations with countries like Spain and Malta, and a few airlines… and sometimes we plan the routes and destinations together with tourism authorities and whoever we happen to work with.
[Misfit] Did it ever happen that you picked a destination based on a book?
[Tiia] Can’t think of any, but then again, many movies are based on books, so I guess there’s that.
[Misfit] Ahah, good point 😅!
Just so you know, I love the concept and you did make me discover (and re-discover) places, actors, movies, and series. What was your favourite destination and why?
[Tiia] We’ve loved SO MANY places. Vancouver, Canada is one of our favorites. Alaska, Northern Ireland, all of the United States. New Zealand, Hawaii, obviously.
They’ve just been stunning places to visit. We both appreciate majestic nature destinations, colorful culture, arts and nice local people.
[Misfit] Any funny moments you would like to share with us?
[Tiia] Well, there’s at least that time we drove through a thick fog on a mountain road in Canada, and didn’t realize we were actually driving through clouds until we popped out on the top side and saw the bright night sky full of stars, and the full moon lighting up the whole mountain.
[Misfit] Has Fangirl Quest new destinations in view for what we all hope to be the near future?
[Tiia] Not at the moment. We hope to go back to Canada and NZ at least, but there’s like two dozen places we’d love to travel to for the first time. Or again.
[Misfit] Behind the busy lady that you are, a peaceful artist awaits whenever you need her, am I correct?
[Tiia] I’m still struggling with finding peace, haha. My ADD brain is always buzzing with 12 different ideas and 20 things I need to be doing at the same time. But yes, painting is one of the activities that calm me down.
[Misfit] You use plenty of colours in your acrylics, but nothing is ever out of place and the colours complement one another very nicely. I particularly love Cotton Candy (these are my colours 😊). What is the most peaceful: creating or looking at the result?
[Tiia] For me it’s the creating part. I’m very rarely happy with the results. But I guess no-one’s ever fully satisfied with their creative work, no?
[Misfit] Oh my… you are so right about that 😳.
What drives your hand and the choice of colours from one painting to the other?
[Tiia] To be honest, my abstract art isn’t anything too deep and meaningful. I just like to paint pretty things. But I do pick the colors according to my mood at that moment. I wouldn’t paint a cotton candy pink thingy on an anxious day.
[Misfit] Digital showcase is great, but have you ever had an exhibition of your paintings in an art gallery, or something like that?
[Tiia] Yeah, a few little ones when I was younger. I’ve been dreaming of getting a little better at abstract art, finding my own, recognizable style and then having another exhibition, but I just don’t have the time for it at the moment.
By the way, big prints of our sceneframing photos have been touring France for a few years now – the first show was at a pop culture event in Lille, and after that, the local folks just wanted to pass them along in libraries and random galleries. I’m not even sure where they’re currently at.
[Misfit] Obviously, right now might still be risky, but when danger has passed, would you consider it?
[Tiia] An exhibition?
[Tiia] I think putting one together would took a while anyway so maybe the world is a little safer by then.
[Misfit] Besides Poets of the Fall and Einari 😉, what are your favourite photo subjects? and why?
[Tiia] Just interesting people. Artists, actors, performers. I also love capturing the moment, so anytime something fun is happening and I can “hide” in plain sight without my subjects noticing are always fun times. Music video shoots, TV & movie productions, events and such. And of course animals!
It’s challenging, yet rewarding. I was never into very artistic photography. My favorite photographer is Nick Brandt, but I myself would like to shoot great portraits for magazines and promotional use. Stuff like Annie Leibovitz‘s.
[Misfit] You always share rather perfect shots of your dog, how difficult is it to get such a photo subject do what you want on cue?
[Tiia] Well, with the dog the thing is, he’s so used to posing for me that it’s very easy.
[Misfit] Do you have any tricks you’d care to share for photographing animals, and dogs in particular?
[Tiia] With animals, I think it’s important to get on their eye level. Pointing the camera down at an animal at your feet rarely gives you their personality or fun facial expressions. Good light is important – makes your camera shutter faster, no matter what equipment you’re using.
Working with Poets of the Fall
[Misfit] I know you’ve explained a little on your website how and when you started working with Poets of the Fall. But, really, did you contact them or the other way around?
[Tiia] I think I was the one who made it all happen by inviting them to a little tv chat show I was hosting. I went to see some gigs, got to know them personally, became good friends and the rest is history. I ended up doing a *lot* of different things for them.
[Misfit] Was it a dream come true, or just an occurrence that came out of the blue and triggered further your creativity?
[Tiia] They’re actually the reason I started taking photos and wanted to become better at it, so yeah, I owe them a lot.
[Misfit] What is the most challenging part of taking live pictures?
[Tiia] Low light and movement combined is basically the hardest part in any photography.
[Misfit] Having to choose between that perfect shot of the band, or giving way to the chills a song brings along your spine… That must be tricky. How do you do it?
[Tiia] I’ve gotten so used to enjoying gigs while taking photos at the same time that it actually makes me very antsy not to have my camera with me!
[Misfit] You do go on the road with Poets of the Fall, right. How is it like?
[Tiia] Exhausting, hahaha. I mean, sharing a bus with 10 dudes is not for everyone. But I’ve been pretty rock’n roll since my early teenage years, I’ve worked with bands all my adult life and spent my summers at rock festivals and backstages so… it’s actually very familiar and cozy for me. But I know a few of my good adult friends would NOT survive that experience 😀
[Misfit] Could you please tell us one or two funny stories from the tour bus?
[Tiia] We have pretty strict rules about keeping backstage stuff private, so I better not.
[Misfit] and so it should be…
[Tiia] But there have been a lot of funny moments, dancing to Backstreet Boys and late, late nights of joking and sometimes even a little bit of drama. As always with a big, tight group of people.
[Misfit] The sneak-peak photos and videos, behind the recording sessions… they are really fun, and when I saw Olli recording today, I thought “like a fly on the wall”. You filmed it like it was one of us eavesdropping where we should not 😃. It was fun to watch. My question: are those sneak-peaks thought out ahead with the band or your spontaneous ideas… how does it work?
[Tiia] Oh actually that was Captain’s video clip. I wasn’t there that day.
[Misfit] My bad… sorry Captain!
[Tiia] The studio photos are mostly spontaneous and them actually at work. Sometimes we pose for the fun stuff like Captain and Olli lifting weights. Although I think they do that there even when I’m not around. Gotta keep in shape!
[Misfit] When will you publish the fantasy book you are dreaming to publish? 😉
[Tiia] Ugh, I guess in like 20 years.
[Misfit] Deal! Let’s see which one of us finally got to that by then. 😂
What is Badasserie?
[Tiia] It’s a marketing agency started by me & a few very talented industry professionals. I’ve been busy with other stuff in life lately, but Taru, one of the co-founders, is working on really cool stuff every day.
Questions for fun
[Misfit] Favourite series, and movies.
[Tiia] THERE ARE SO MANY. Supernatural, Peaky Blinders, Ted Lasso… + a hundred more. Lately I’ve adored Dune and Free Guy, but my all time favorite film is The Fall by Tarsem. WATCH IT.
[Misfit] Will do! Plus I love Lee Pace 😁
[Misfit] Favourite Books.
[Tiia] Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, anything by Neil Gaiman. I’m also enjoying Obama’s new book and absolutely adored Matthew McConaughey’s Green Lights.
[Misfit Heart] Green Lights was a revelation to me and His Dark Materials… perfect!
Favourite games (board or video) … if you play any.
[Tiia] I just play these dumb puzzle games on mobile. And an interior design game. As a kid, I loved all the Super Marios and Bubble Bobble.
[Misfit] Country you have not visited and would love to visit.
[Tiia] Madagascar, Peru.
[Misfit] Country you would love to visit again.
[Tiia] Canada, always. New Zealand, Hawaii. And I miss my old home country Wales a lot right now.
[Misfit] I guess we’re all the same at some point in our lives when it comes to our homes.
[Tiia] …all the unhealthy stuff, unfortunately. Italian, mashed potatoes, anything I can put ketchup on.
[Misfit] hmm, Italian… close enough 😉
Tea or Coffee.
[Tiia] HUGE CUPS OF COFFEE.
[Misfit] City or Village.
[Tiia] I’d love to say village, but at the moment I’m stuck in the biggest city of Finland. Work & friends and all that.
[Misfit] Beach or forest.
[Tiia] Depends on the beach. If it’s an adventurous, rocky beach in Vancouver, then sign me up. Not a fan of sand & tanning. Otherwise, always forest.
[Misfit] Favourite band (because I must ask…)
[Tiia] Radiohead & Poets of the Fall. Even if I didn’t work for them and love them as people.
Thank you very much for your time Tiia!
Wishing you all the best for the future.
Don’t forget to visit: Tiia Öhman – Photography & Design
All pictures © Tiia Öhman.
If you haven’t read it, read “A conversation with Movie Director Miika Hakala“