Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Hannele Lahti from the DC pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

I studied photography at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) after being introduced to the medium by my father while on family road trips. I started out assisting other photographers and doing editorial, commercial and event-based photography. I still work with a variety of commercial clients but am currently transitioning my business to clients a with an environmental and animal focus. Growing up in a rural part of Maine, I find much of my inspiration to create photographs within the natural world, and I'd like my business to represent that theme more fully. I've begun exhibiting my work in group shows throughout the eastern US and am looking to work with galleries more in the future. I'm constantly working on personal projects and normally have 2 or 3 in the works at all times.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned audio and video which I’m incorporating with my still photography to create mini-documentaries about people and events I find interesting. My stock photography has been represented by National Geographic Creative since 2009 and I launched an online print store for my fine art work last year. (http://archive.hannelelahti.com)

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?

I’m not sure where I came accross the project, probably somewhere on social media. I really liked the idea because it was such a different way to think about cultivating an audience. The act of taking art out of the gallery scene to create a positive experience around collecting for people on the street sounded appealing.

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

Yes, I was excited to meet my fellow Crusaders, to engage people about art and to try something new. Sometimes I feel like I spend way too much time on my computer ,so I thought this would be a fun way to get out and make some new connections.

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?  

I figured the event would be pretty organic and it was. We ended up having a nice mix of tourists and locals which made engagement fun. The people who stopped asked a lot of questions and seemed really interested in learning about all of the artwork being presented. This made the event really enjoyable and lively.

It would have been nice to have an easy method to record contact info from the new collectors. A table with sign up sheets & info for each artist might have been a good way to accomplish that.

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

I looked at this experiment as a good way to practice talking about my work, to be part of something bigger than myself, and to meet new people. The idea behind the Crusade resonated with me, and I hope that by participating I was able to create a positive art experience for the people who stopped. Maybe the next time they need something to hang in their home, they’ll consider purchasing an artwork from their local arts community instead of a large box store. To me, that would be a successful outcome.

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

The image, Tuckamore Forest, Newfoundland was shot last year in Gros Morne National Park. For me, the image captures the essence of the forests in that region which are stunted and shaped by strong coastal winds and spraying salt water.

My main website is www.hannelelahti.com, from there you can link to my online print shop, blog, social media, and stock photography. My Instagram stream is @hannelelahti.

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