From Other Realities – Tuomas Puikkonen as a LARP photographer, 2010–2020
A retrospective in the Finnish Museum of Games’ studio shows, for the first time, an extensive collection of photographs by Tuomas Puikkonen. The exhibition is curated by the photographic artist and LARP designer Katri Lassila (MFA).
Photographer Tuomas Puikkonen started to photograph LARPs in 2010. Puikkonen was working at a university, but had been involved in the role-playing and photography hobbies for years. He joined a LARP series workgroup with the intention to make the experience even more fun for the players and, to this aim, chose to work with documenting the game. Over the years, the experiment grew into an entire career. Puikkonen has photographed 70 LARPs over ten years. He has shot fantasy and sci-fi, realism, vampires and serious political LARPs as well as light-hearted fun and art projects.
Puikkonen has an inclusive work ethic. He wants to photograph all LARP participants equally. Some LARPs have large budgets while others rely entirely on volunteers. For Puikkonen, photographing them is equally important. As a photographer, he considers diversity important and wants to ensure that we are not only documenting the expensive and highly visible LARPs that are already mentioned in public; he also wants to shoot the LARPs that were made simply for the love of the game.
Over the decades, Tuomas Puikkonen has developed a unique, recognisable style. Puikkonen is primarily interested in the interaction between the characters. Many of his most acclaimed photos represent situations where even the viewer can sense the tension between characters. Puikkonen uses digital equipment and retouches his photos creatively, using tones and contrasts to convey a message about the LARP’s atmosphere, for example. Therefore, a dystopian future might have cold blue tones, whereas a gentle love scene in a romantic game is warm and well-lit.