joni karanka – last orders

[slidepress gallery=’jonikaranka-lastorders’]

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Joni Karanka

Last Orders

play this essay


Cardiff, capital of Wales, is a young city. The port that shipped coal to the empire sleeps now, yet the dwellers of the valleys still come down to the city. The night draws everybody into a high in which every act is excusable and freedom is at the reach of the fingertips. This is a chronic of Cardiff when last orders are called.



Joni Karanka (Helsinki, 1981), is a member of Mindfist based in Cardiff. He is a finalist of the 2008 edition of the Emerging Photographers Fund and his work has been shown in The Night of the Year in Rencontres d’Arles and the Festival of Photography of Phnom Penh. Currently he is as involved in his own projects as in finding ways of promoting photography (such as Dr Karanka’s Print Stravaganza).


Related links

Joni Karanka

Dr Karanka’s Print Stravaganza


Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

42 Responses to “joni karanka – last orders”

  • Quality. Tells the story accurately, and not easy getting these kinds of shots surrounded by pissed people I know.

    Would have loved to have heard audio with this as I did with CHUCKING OUT, which uses pictures David White took for the Guardian:

  • Whatever gives man the idea that he is a civilised being? I enjoyed this series. I don’t think its needs audio.

  • Bravo. I can feel a youthful angst, or that urge to let our genitals do the decision-making; but not the frustrative or destructive energy we see in the cover image…hmmm.

    It seems like after the cover shot, it gets a touch repetitive with the steady indoor grope sessions.

    I Love seeing essays where the artist ‘gets in’ a closed group of society, whether they’re your peers or not.

    Wonder what becomes of all the guys/gals who leave alone and kick that trash can…Where are they in this?

    Audio may be nice for this work, but not on burn; music gets overpowering here, distracting. I think.

  • I discovered his work in Arles in 2008… He was shown during the night of the year in a group project called “streetpulse”… In between all the biggest agencies, magazines… Between all, to my eyes and also from what I heard after, it was the best show of the night…the only one with the right tone…and the good sound…

    I am a fan of this serie….wich I could edit differently and make from Joni website :

    one of the strongest work done about the youth in England I ever sawn…a real society drama!

  • Oz

    it’s Wales mate. Wales. Not England. We’re far more civilised than that rabble over the border. honest.

    (p.s well done Joni, my one though is that it’s quite a one paced edit, i wonder if there is room for some quieter, more contemplative images?)

  • A good set which I imagine was difficult and risky to obtain. True, the mindless violence of the cover shot was not echoed all the way through the work but it still close to the surface…

    Cardiff is a tough city – no soundtrack required for me – more than enough drama in the images themselves.

  • BEN

    you been to notts or brum lately?

    yeps – JONI – ya dog.. paparazzo of the people.. like it a lot.. very rough.. very visceral.. filthiness caught wallowing and floundering in it’s gutter.. i would like to see more, and guess as you are stuck in groundhog day over there we all will see more.

    there is an imbalance of filth in the photos which, while prevalent at gigs and the like, is not the whole story.. i know you ‘love it’ so, but could the more tough or abrupt photos not be lent an even harsher vibe by the addition of some less gruesome ones? i think BEN is hinting the same, although i could be wrong.
    ahh, what do i know.
    i’m up for a white russian – whacha drinking?

    regarding audio – i’m not that bothered for here either.. audio can so often be used to beef up average pictures and joni’s, and david’s too, can stand along i think..
    i think it’s about context..

    i like david whites work too.. although for me it’s spoilt by the ‘ken burns’ effect.. hate it.. love letting my eyes settle on a snap to soak it up.. move my eyes around.. with the photo moving i find that difficult.. i guess that’s me with sounds as well.. i like to choose my own background sounds, and choose where my eye wanders.. call be a pedant..

    for the ‘full effect’ i guess we could all pour beer over our laptops, smack ourselves in the head and hear, smell and feel the work :o)

  • Very nice!
    Many strong images.
    1,4,9,11,12,15,16,18 (my favorite) and 20 are all keepers.

    A few of the images with out of focus foregrounds don’t have enough interest (facial expressions or composition-wise) for may want to consider shooting more of these to add to the mix.

    Good job.

  • I enjoyed the work although it did make me cringe a little, for the right reasons though–as Joni intended. I agree with some of the other comments that a few images could be dropped to make the series a little more impactful. After a strong start 5 & 6 killed the pace a little for me. I would lose a few more as well. God though… it does make me feel rather wretched when I see this side of British culture. It’s something I really don’t miss.

  • Who wants to go to London, Paris, New York!!! Not me, I mean, not any more! Cardiff is THE PLACE to be and I want to be in Cardiff by the next flight and live there happily ever after! ;)

    AWESOME!!! Mr Karanka! Thanks for separating the milk from the water. Really, honestly, truely…not only because of the strength of the subject matter but also because of the individual photos and the honest depiction! To be deliberately critical, I even tried to look beyond the photos but no, the photos still haunt. As expected, burn is burning! We are The Best!

  • Not a place I would want to spend time, and certainly not a positive side of life…but, I think, an honest look at a real place and time. I think this is one of the better essays I’ve seen here. I agree with others that it could use some other photos to contrast with the relentless seediness. This is really good work.

  • Ben

    You certainly experiment that when it rain in england, in summer or in winter…it rain everywhere?

    Am I wrong?

  • Nice to wake up to this on Burn. Just really cool to see Last Orders getting some attention, what’s so bad about internet publishing again?

    I like the edit, just when you think it can’t get any seedier, there’s another photo to show you – yes, it can. Cardiff during the night is becoming legendary….

  • I always marvel at UK culture. You never see anything like this here in Romania among the youth. These days young men show up to clubs looking like mafiosos and the women like super models. Outside there are brand new BMWs and Mercedes somehow acquired through leases and/or black market money. Romanian youth would never be caught dead acting so silly/wild publicly. Here, it’s all about showing off one’s looks and wealth and remaining quite cool. It’s just interesting to compare/contrast cultures within Europe.

  • this does not, for me, fulfil the ‘statement of intent’ of the first frame.
    Where is the rest of the story? This is THE national pastime of our youth (or a significant proportion anyways) and it ALWAYS goes way past this.
    I like some of the shots a lot, and i think its good that someone with this kind of access is shooting it, but come on Joni, wheres the rest???????? In this cut down, censored form it just becomes a spectacle. Entertainment. titillation.
    Tell the whole story or just make pretty shapes, but dont present half of it as an accurate representation of the phenomenon.


  • I will be the dissenter and just say that the other essay or collection of images on your site ( fountains) stand 2 heads above this one, and tells more about these young people, but also you, as a sensitive artist/man and as a photographer too of course. It is really “good”, as the saying goes.

    3 little point about the current essay:

    -Many shots seem taken from the same distance, mentally if not in measuration. We would wish for some of the energy/nervousness coming from the madness about to be also communicated to your shooting stance. This is probaly why some of the shots do remind me of Weegee, quite the perspicacious outsider.

    -Though something always happens in the frames, I’d wish for more visual happenstance, for movements and actions to become moments, distortions, captures, goofiness, all things that a camera can aptly capture. As it is, it’s all a bit too “looking at”.

    -Maybe I am wrong, but could there be something to say about how many shots do really spell “Cardiff nights”, identify the location? Many are plain party shots, for being shot inside, and the B&W treatment, as often does, tends to generalize the subject to what people do, rather than where.

    This said, I think #17 is ZE shot. You did it there! the scene has an unconsequential weirdness (they may be drunk, and not gay, that is if we cared, which we don’t, and probably only you saw and captured it), nothing shocking, just unexpected visually, so a terrific counterpoint inside the essay, and in just one shot, you tell us just about evrything we need about the Cardiff’s last orders night scene. Bravo, or rather… Brawo! (w as in Winogrand!).

  • So the dream that relaxing British licensing law would lead to a Mediterranean-style cafe culture didn’t come true then?

    Nice work, Joni. Funny how often “outsiders” end up doing the best work in a country. Fresh pair of eyes and all that.

  • Ahh the facebook camera phone style……….eyeball situations in schools are another favourite subject and is the domain of the younger photographer.

    Some really good and challenging images are produced………..even though at times the controversial activities grab the headlines ,images of positive aspects far outweigh the negatives in the school yard photography. Maybe the younger set have a more balanced view of things

  • One of these days I must retell the story about why I dont drink, but in lieu of that, this will do. Great essay, Joni.

  • Authentic!

  • Wow… I can’t even look at the whole thing. nothing you did Joni – just the content… I can’t be in situations like that without feeling horrible inside – kudos Joni for sticking with it…

  • aahhh….
    the not so pretty side
    caught in frames…..

  • Good job Joni, very much your style. I like the work, though as Ben said, maybe one-speed and wold have been nice to slow it down a bit. I’m surprised that you didn’t submit Welsh surfaces, actually, which to me is probably your strongest body of work.

    Would be interesting to have this contrasted with Maciej’s work. Same city, same topic, but so much different. Maybe that’s what’s coming next? The two bodies of work really do compliment each other really well.

    All in all I’m surprised this took so long to land on Burn seeing as this was your submission for EPF in 2008.

    Good stuff.

    I see grandpa Imants chimed in. Good on him.

  • Hi guys, thanks for the comments of all sorts. I’ll chip in. I’m most of the day off after.

    @john gladdy: I think that there are many other halfs to this story, which one do you refer to?

    @ben roberts, james chance, rafal pruszynski: of all the edits of the work I’ve done so far this is the consciously fastest in beat. I should have maybe kept it shorter than it is to make it still faster. I have other sequences in which I aim at building some sense of wonder and build the pace, while this one opens straight in and changes gear one up one down a couple of times. It’s a bit like a Pantera song. If I was showing a much larger part of the project I would probably do a different slideshow of it, but I’d most probably try to stick to a different medium like a book.

    @herve: I’m not interested in producing an editorial work in which Cardiff is identifiable. There’s not a single shot in this slideshow that nails the place down, but when you see them as a sequence you might know where it is.

  • Made me think, cringe and enjoy all at the same time… you sure captured those moments, I have to give you that… what can alcohol and drugs put you through?!
    Good job

  • Lots of tits, bums, dicks and very, very thick calves… Just as it should be coming from Wales!

    Well done! I enjoyed the energy and had a moment reminiscing about the good old days of unintelligble language and drinking so much beer I could barely stand up myself.

    Some things never change. Evocative work.

    Er, cheers!

  • Joni, great essay. I have nothing of substance to say other than that, it just shows what is, and well. This did not make me cringe at all, mostly smile, and I’m not sure what that says about me ;-)) It makes me wonder what I could have come up with in my younger days of debauchery when I was on the inside but then, much of that could just not be seen with the camera. I wonder, for myself too, what this could be like by following a select group of young 20-somethings over a long period of time through many aspects of their lives, not just the pub crawl … it would be a different animal to be sure but it would seem you have everything in place to do that. Thinking out loud, facing that choice/opportunity now myself.

    Hmmmm, maybe you could do Venice for a month, and Panos could do Cardiff ;-))

  • Joni, this looks like a wonderful essay and something I hope you grow with. Congrats and I look forward to seeing where this progresses.

  • Hi Joni; Congratulations with this piece, I like it. I suppose a lot of this nightlife is endemic around the world. I’m out shooting most weekend nights here in NZ and see a lot of the same stuff too.. Thank you

  • dr. joni! :))))

    first, i dont have time to write anything long because of a deadline (crowd breathes a collective sigh of relief), so i’ll keep it simple. I love the simplicity of the pictures and that within each one, upon a second viewing, something odd, sometimes beautiful, sometimes startling, sometimes confusing, comes to the surface….and i love all the space within the fames….that is, most of the details in the frame serve to point toward the moment that catches the eye (whether it is a look, or a knife + expression cutting a cake, a claw-like white hand, a glazedover eye, a flash over a shoulder, a turned eye, an upturned tongue, a scatter shoe, etc)….that it’s clearn and clear and that it, if not telling a story about Cardiff then at least a story about we’re still shutting ourselves against one another through an outerreach….i’ve seen many of your edits (including the one at Arles) and many projects, but for this essay, i drank it up as it is….

    and it reminds me of a poem, a poem that meant a great deal to me when i was battering my own body, lungs, belly and mind, in university…and yet, it spoke to me, in a sense, saved a part of me…not that we are lost but that in our losing ways are still a part of one another….so, i’ll leave u with that poem…and just say, well done mate….well done….

    sorry (i guess) for the short comment)


    Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio

    User Rating:

    8.5 /10
    (20 votes)

    0 E-mail this poem to e friend

    0 Send this poem as eCard

    0 Add this poem to MyPoemList

    0 Print friendly version

    In the Shreve High football stadium,
    I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
    And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
    And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
    Dreaming of heroes.

    All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
    Their women cluck like starved pullets,
    Dying for love.

    Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
    At the beginning of October,
    And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.

    –James Wright

  • I love this kind of story, nice shot. Someone of them seems to be arranged, but the others are nice! I know that it is difficult to shot. cheers

  • i dunno.

    #3 is interesting, some others are ok and raises the minds curiosity enough to put them into a category of good. Personally, i’d tighten down the set somewhat.

    does it tell a full picture of last orders? probably not and expanse into all sides of life would increase the interest in it and provide some balance.

    the roughness and gritty-ness i like.

    you’ve gone for the inebriated, voyeuristic and paparazzi. there is a whole other side which is a way more difficult subject – having access, the engagement of the subject in their intoxicated state, involvement with a deeper state of the individual subjects being.

    but hey, as a voyeuristic piece, you’ve done well.

  • I like these photos except for a few like #5 which seem a bit easy. It’s nice how you explored with the camera in an environment where many different events/surprises can unfold very quickly. You really managed to capture some intimate moments of youth culture in Cardiff.
    ….just a question…did anyone get on your case while taking these?

  • RAFAL…

    Burn did not exist when Joni was an EPF finalist in 2008…and yes yes it sometimes takes a very very long time for photographers to be ready and deliver…our biggest job here is to get photographers to go from thinking about it to actually doing it…i have been wanting to publish Joni’s work from the very beginning…

    cheers, david

  • I really like this work, it has impressed me so gratefully,, your photos take me to the memories of the “deep” england, I can almost smell the shabby atmosphere of those places , I love the way you took s them , with the hard flash light… so straigth… very powerful congratulations and thanks for sharing it.

  • @Tommy: it is a voyeuristic piece… voyeurism has strenght in its realism, and it sort of draws you in, I mean, it is voyeurism, I’m not engaging with these people just observing and imitating them

    @david_bacher: no violence worth worrying about, but the ones that get on your way when shooting are bouncers (a lot) and uninformed policemen, and that can happen quite a lot

  • I’ve just come back from two weeks in Wales with my family. Had a wonderful time. Though it was an all together different environment than the one portrayed here.

    The level of mindless alcohol abuse here in Britain and the accompanying violence is alarming and severely threatening. It just seems to get worse and worse. And it’s not just twenty somethings.

    Anyway, I’m ranting and I appreciate that that’s not all of what this project is about.

    Good project. Good shot making. A story well told. As they say here in London, “nice one”.

    Paul Treacy

  • Tough stuff but real, oh so real. A side of life that is happening whether folks want to know it or not. Many many great captures but I too would love to see more varied POV and positioning by the photographer. Joni, you obviously have their trust–at least as much trust as they are capable of having–so get in there even tighter, or take shots from above and below. Just shoot the hell out of these scenes and show us the entire range of emotions. For instance, aren’t there any kids who stand outside the action and look on wistfully? Not everyone is being groped or groping. Some kids are always outsiders. I want to see them too.

    Good work, Joni.Really good work.


  • I really liked this one. Thanks for sharing!

  • Joni,

    Are you and Maciej Dakowicz working on the same street corner?
    Have to admit, the whole series from both of you look the same. Cardiff at night, throwing out time, welsh kids going mad.

  • @Patricia: I don’t have anybody’s trust when I photograph :o) And you’d be surprised, in many places there are no ‘outsiders’

    @Daniel: We rarely shoot the same places, excepting going for beers every now and then and the streets being the same. I wouldn’t mind to have lived elsewhere, but I like it here. Doesn’t make much of a difference, I think.

  • Dr Karanka,

    I was going to write a long essay about differences between Finnish and British drinking habits. In the end I came to the conclusion that they are pretty similar.

    FINtastic work by the way!!

    All the best


Comments are currently closed.