The Psychology of Photography
Have you ever wondered what an image, specifically a portrait, reveals of the subject or, for that matter, the photographer? Blipper Markku (with two journals: Akkuv and Akkuvv) might be able to provide some insights.
Markku works in the department of psychology and logopedics at Helsinki University in Finland, teaching research methods and doing research and measurements on human values and personality. He notes that in the real world people often make decisions based only on seeing photographs of strangers (e.g. on different websites such as dating services etc.). And he and his research team wanted to find out whether people can really elucidate a person’s values only through photographs.
Combining photography and science
His current work aims to find out whether having a first baby influences the values of the parents. He uses family portraits, as well as individual portraits of the father, mother, and the couple together to see whether students can assess the values of the people just by looking at their photographs. This is a new area of study and involves 170 families in a longitudinal study, of which 70 were photographed.
In earlier studies, Markku has researched whether people can ‘act out’ a personality trait in a photograph so that viewers can identify those traits and believe them. “To some extent,” he says “people can act out personality quite well - especially the traits of extroversion and introversion.” But he adds, sometimes the person being photographed automatically smiles (we’ve all learned to respond with a smile to the prompt ‘say cheese!’) and that can get in the way of capturing the true ‘soul’ of the person.
He also finds it interesting that in all portraits the interaction between the model and the photographer is a very crucial issue. “To some extent,” he says, “that interaction is reflected in the portraits, and often, the mood of the photographer will be reflected on the outcome.”
Predictably, his work carries over to his journals as well where portraiture is often featured. You can find his collection of Blipfoto portraits searching with the tag: portraitbyakkuv.
How do I want to see the world today?
Markku describes his journals as follows: “There are different worlds, inner worlds and outer worlds. There are visions and facts. The question is, how I see, or how I want to see the world today.”
His other photographic interest is abstract photography. “That is something that I do for fun,” he states “when I have no models. The main outcome is to try to keep my ‘soul’ fresh.” You can find his collection of abstract photos with the tag: abstractbyakkuv.
He says he tries to photograph intuitively – whatever comes to his mind. He has a seven-kilometer commute to work and rides his bike all year round. His camera is always with him and ready to shoot. “If I get any idea,” he adds, “I stop my bike, shoot and only afterwards think whether there was some sense in it.”
Markku has photographed since his youth. In his non-digital days, he mainly used his camera to document life.
Markku’s had no gaps in posting on Blipfoto since his son (Andreasone), a professional photographer, introduced him to the platform. He likes the discipline of posting daily and says that if he allowed for gaps, he would start wondering whether an image is good enough to be published. The daily routine removes that pressure and, he think, may lead him to ‘some new inventions.’
His method for blipping daily is to use one of his three cameras to take tree shots
each morning before going to work. “This way,” he says, “I need not worry about working at finding a shot later, or simply forgetting, or worrying that a camera might break.”
Quite naturally, given his profession and passion for photography, blippers and the relationships he’s formed with them are the most important component of keeping him on the site. And he very much values the fact that the community owns the platform; to him, this increases the level of trust in posting images.
Markku has been married 38 years with Mrs Akkuv, who is often featured in his photos, whether we realize it or not, as she’s often in abstract form here. He has two children. His son, mentioned earlier, who often helps him with technical questions, both with cameras and lenses, and with manipulating images. His daughter prefers not to appear in clear photos in Blipfoto, but she has been seen in abstract forms here for a few times. And finally, Markku is happy to report a status change: he’s become a grandfather and is happily clicking away images of the baby (with parental admonitions not to show a face!).
When not busy with work, Markku and his wife spend the weekends gardening and picking berries or at the family cottage splitting wood for the long Finnish winters.
Cover photo by Markku: Finnish Independence Day
Remarks collected by Michele (aka Alsacienne)