Samuli Karala (born 1977 in Turku, Finland) is a Berlin based photographer who has been on his quest for the most capturing cinematic portraits for nearly 20 years. Whether the photographed person is a renowned phenomenal R&B artist like Kelly Rowland, or a Head of State like the president of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö, Karala is always interested in capturing the person behind the appearance.
”Characters matter to me the most,” he says.
That’s why whenever Karala shoots, he works to illuminate and recreate characters. Having photographed such people as the heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, the legendary fashion model Kiara Kabukuru and Entourage actor Adrian Grenier, Karala strongly believes that every image should tell a story.
”In fashion as well as in portraiture, my aim is to depict the person, interpret the moment and capture the dynamics between those two.”
The first important camera for him was a film Canon A-1, borrowed from his high school girlfriend’s photographer mother. Young Karala, an aspiring radio host at the time, suddenly realised that he had to find out everything there is to know about the secrets of that fascinating thing. So for the following two years, he studied photography in Finland. After those two years, Karala moved to England to continue his education at the University for the Creative Arts.
While still at school, he also did one of his first important projects, a ’making of’ film of the Westlife ’Miss You Nights’ music video in 2002. Since then, he has lived in London, New York, Tallinn, Helsinki, Dubai and Berlin, and travelled the world photographing iconic people from all sorts of fields. Renowned for his mysteriously exciting fashion photography and elegantly original portraiture, Karala’s work has been seen in publications such as Muse, InStyle, South China Morning Post Style, L’Officiel, L’Officiel Hommes, Elle, Elle Decor, REVS, Plaza Kvinna, Schön, The National UAE, Emirates Woman, Emirates Man, Cosmopolitan, Eyewear Magazine Germany, Kaltblut, Neo2, Vaga, Vogue.it., Vision China, and The Client to mention a few.
In addition to various editorial series, Karala has photographed campaigns that aim to raise awareness about global crises, such as the 2008 award winning World Wildlife Fund 'Think about your future’ initiative for saving rainforests. In the haunting photos, people go through a metamorphosis: the absent minded man whose hands turn into those of the Bornean orangutan, tangibly reminds the viewer of how our everyday decisions affect the endangered species.
In the future, Karala plans to continue crossing borders conceptually and artistically.
”I wish that I could keep bringing the enigmatic and creative, the stories, to the world of fashion and editorials.”
His love for the image keeps taking him to places he will never forget. Sometimes, the most unexpected encounters with people become the most memorable. Like the time when the mythical poker player Doyle Brunson welcomed Karala in his Las Vegas home. In front of the mini fountain of his backyard, holding a golf club in his hands, the legend might have been casually wearing a stetson and a robe, but in the end it was the brutal elegance and honesty of the close-up that stayed in people’s minds.
And the portrait lives on.
Copyright @ 2016. Samuli Karala. All Rights reserved.