Pictures of The Month / Tiina Mäki: Impressions of a Butterfly

25.08.2017 - 19.09.2017

In the imagination of different persons a butterfly is a contradictory insect. For a small and usually harmless creature it can awaken a lot of differing opinions and strong emotions in the minds of people. For others seeing a butterfly brings aesthetics and joy to life and symbolizes messages of change, courage and positive things from the universe.  For others encountering a butterfly causes extreme fear and disgust in the form of lepidopterophobia, which is fear for butterflies.

My own attitude towards butterflies has always been somewhat neutral, but I have lived with a person with fear for butterflies for years and after this photography project I feel I can better understand how a person with such a phobia sees these insects. When taking a closer look a butterfly reveals to be a lot more bleak creature than what one would easily imagine a colourful insect flitting around in nature to be. While photographing I often think that with a right style it’s possible to present unpleasant and frightening phenomena in an interesting and aesthetic way. With this series I turned my own way of thinking upside down, because if butterflies are usually perceived as lovely creatures, I now wanted to photograph them through different lenses.

We met with the lifeless butterfly in the pictures some years ago by coincidence at my workplace. The story does not tell how it had ended up there and how such a fragile creature had miraculously stayed unharmed for several years in a plastic box. In the beginning I got inspired about photographing the substance of a butterfly with macro and microscope techniques for a school project. A curios person, who’s into photography like me, has a will to examine things as close as possible and search for viewpoints different from the ordinary. For me the most fascinating thing with this project was to take photos with a style and technique different from the ones I usually use, and for a change to step away from the zone of comfort and skills that feels my own.  

I wanted to create intensive pictures. Illusions of a lively creature flying towards the camera that one does not even necessarily recognize as a butterfly. My technique of photographing takes the viewer to the ”skin of the butterfly” and reveals details that bare eye would not see. At the same time my object is with different styles to present a creature that is colourful, beautiful and fascinating and disgusting and scary at the same time, which is the image that some people have of it. What kind of thoughts it makes you think?

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