Ari Jaaksi – Shoot on Film

Ari Jaaksi is the charasmatic host of the YouTube channel “Shoot on Film”. We talk to him about all things photographic.

By Christopher Osborne.


Ari Jaaksi sports his Hasselblad Superwide Camera

It has been almost two years since I spoke to Ari Jaaksi, the charismatic host of the Shoot on Film YouTube channel. Ari’s self-reflection on analogue photography and related topics is increasingly popular and his channel has continued to grow.

Ironically, we find ourselves talking about digital photography at the beginning of the conversation. Ari is describing a photography weekend with his friend. They were in an isolated coastal location, surrounded by birds. For the first time, his friend has not upgraded to the latest Canon digital camera, because the changes benefit videographers and not still photographers. His friend bemoans the increasing complexity of digital camera menus, and dreams of a camera just for still photographers. Ari knows a thing or two about product development and points out that implementing a simpler product would almost certainly drive up camera prices.

Ari Jaaksi in Barcelona.

Part of the charm of the “Shoot on Film” channel is Ari’s honesty. He is completely comfortable with talking about something that did not work. Ari explains that he struggled to find something to shoot, despite being in a beautiful location and surrounded by birds that were unafraid of humans.

Ari sees digital and film photography as not competing but complementing each other. He uses his cell phone camera to document events like family life. He also has a DSLR camera that he uses for making video content for his channel. A few months ago, he bought a Sony A6000 with the idea that he could fit a Helios 44, Jupiter 11, and other such vintage lenses to create convenient analogue-like images. “It ended up being the worst of both worlds. It felt crazy and awful”, Ari explains and continues, “Analogue and digital are different worlds for me and I should not try to mix them. That doesn’t work for me”

The main street of Tampere regularly features in Ari’s photography.

The conversation drifts into film photography. “Film photography is a way of expressing myself”, Ari explains. “It fills a fine art space in my photography. I document with digital but create with analogue.”

I asked Ari about his choice of subject matter. Those of you who are regular visitors to “Shoot on Film” will recognise a pattern in Ari’s photography. He photographs landscapes near his house, street scenes in Tampere and occasionally there is a moody still life with an occasional family portrait.

A portrait of Ari’s daughter.

“When I go outside, I feel the need to master the view”, Ari explains. “I find myself taking the same picture over and over again. I feel that I have something to say, and I find new things in familiar scenes”.  We talk about Ari’s repeated visits to the lone tree by the lake and the chimney of the old cotton mill that was built in the 1820s. “I recently had an exhibition where every image was taken looking down the same street”, Ari explains. “I feel as though I have taken the same picture a zillion times, it still has something to say”.

Ari wants to have a relationship with his subjects. So not everything is worthy of his attention. He gives an example, “There is a nice river with rapids that runs through the centre of my hometown, Tampere. It bothers me that it has been photographed so many times, by so many people. It does not speak to me. I also struggle when I travel abroad. I look around and do not have the full understanding of what I am seeing”, Ari reflects. “It’s hard to build a relationship in an instant.”

The old Cotton Mill.

Ari and I find ourselves talking about what makes good photography. Ari describes images by the light in the image. “It is the light that gives an image its identity”, he says. In his mind, the photograph of an old American car that his neighbour owns reminds him of a portrait he made of his daughter because the lighting is similar. I ask him about the still-life images that he makes within the house. “Our kitchen table gets the most amazing Northern light”, Ari explains. “I just photograph whatever happens to be there. I never create a still life scene. That would just feel wrong and artificial”.

Recently, Ari’s wife took him to the Espoo City Museum in southern Finland. The exhibition was a selection of Teuvo Kanerva’s Finnish cityscapes. Teuvo had shot 128,000 film frames over a career spanning 45 years. Ari scans and catalogues all of his work in Lightroom, and has shot over 20,000 frames since discovering film photography six years ago. “It seems, I shoot film a lot”, Ari says. “Much more than many professional photographers back in the days when film photography was the only game in town!”

Ari Jaaksi’s “home away from home”.

The conversation moves on to looking back through previous work. Ari prints his best images in his darkroom, he scans and catalogues them all in Lightroom. He has taken to looking back through old images and is discovering previously discarded images that he now likes. For example, he took a photograph of a person browsing a book in a New York Bookstore. “Technically, it is underexposed”, says Ari. “But when I look at the result, it feels exactly like being there”.

We conclude by talking about where Ari wants to take the “Shoot on Film” channel. “Gear does not interest me, and neither does “how to” videos”, Ari explains. “I’d like to have someone else film the video and make them more slick. Most importantly, I would like to encourage more interaction. I’d like to create a conversation about what photography means to us. The channel already has a lot of engagement with viewers making comments, several people have sent me emails, called me, and even sent their prints and some gear! I like that”.

Making darkroom prints.

Ari Jaaksi talks about this interview here:

You can see more of Ari Jaaksi on YouTube at and on Instagram at @ShootOnFilm

Images © Ari Jaaksi 2023.

You might also be interested in the November 2021 interview with Ari Jaaksi. See




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