Pentti Sammallahti (born Helsinki 1950) is a benchmark figure in contemporary Finnish photography. He began photographing at 11 and by 1971 began to travel and exhibit extensively throughout the world. Sammallahti’s travels across Europe, Scandinavia, Siberia, the far East and Africa, combined with his interest in fine printing and lithography, led him to publish numerous portfolios such as Ici et Loin (Actes Sud, 2012). He has received awards such as the Samuli Paulaharju Prize of the Finnish Literature Society, State Prizes for Photography, Uusimaa Province Art Prize, Daniel Nyblin Prize, and the Finnish Critics Association Annual, and has been represented at art fairs and in exhibitions in Europe and the USA for over four decades.
Sammallahti’s work has a supernatural sense of a moment suspended in time, with the sensitivity and beauty of the world displayed through its animalistic existence. As a wanderer and master craftsman Sammallahti records the relationships he discovers between people and animals in the far-off places he visits. As a passionate seeker of the perfect mechanical printing method, his own innovative printing techniques and reintroduction of the portfolio form have re-awakened broader interest in published photographic art.
Sammallahti has been photographing the world around him with a poetic eye since the age of eleven. At the age of nine he visited “The Family of Man” exhibition at Helsinki Art Hall, confirming at a young age his photographic path in life. Featured in solo exhibitions by the age of 21, Sammallahti continued to exhibit and teach at the Helsinki University of Art and Design until receiving the Finnish State’s 15-year artist grant in 1991. Sammallahti describes himself as a nomad who enjoys the nature of the great north: the darkness, the cold, and the sea. Sammallahti is a master craftsman, carefully toning his prints, to create a poetic atmosphere of desolate silence.
Sammallahti was honored to be included among the 100 favorite photographs in the personal collection of Henri Cartier-Bresson, which was the inaugural exhibition for the Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson in 2003. Since 1979, Pentti Sammallahti has published thirteen books and portfolios and has received awards such as the Samuli Paulaharju Prize of the Finnish Literature Society, State Prizes for Photography, Uusimaa Province Art Prize, Daniel Nyblin Prize, and the Finnish Critics Association Annual.
Sammallahti’s photographs take the viewer beyond everyday experience into a wistfully enchanting world. Regardless of where on the globe Sammallahti goes – Finland, Russia or France – there is a gentle humour in his gaze. In Sammallahti’s universe things that are considered unimportant become significant, while the essentials are discovered through acutely experiencing the world. Dogs stretching and doves dozing, the rhythms of a Roma market, or children in clothes that are too big for them – all well-aimed shots in the hunt for decisive moments. Sammallahti represents an alternative to the frenetic rhythms of contemporary life and to the adulation of rapid change
Apart from being a world-travelling photographer, Sammallahti is an immortaliser of his home city of Helsinki. Although the place has changed and grown over the decades, Helsinki-ites will recognize in these pictures the dampness, the wind and the mist coming in from the sea that are part of the scene in autumn and winter.
Sammallahti is one of the first Finnish photographers to have carried out his entire life’s work as a photographic artist. As a craftsman who emphasizes the knowledge and skill of the photographer in taking photographs, making photographic prints, and printing photographs using photomechanical processes. Along with individual pictures, Sammallahti has made thematic portfolios. His breakthrough work, Cathleen Ní Houlihan – An Irish Portfolio from 1979, took its name from a figure in an Irish folk tale. It marked a new opening for photographic art that accentuated the tonality of the pictures and the photographer’s own inner experience. He taught for a long time at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, where he and his workgroups created a culture of high-quality photographic printing and printing using photomechanical processes. The retrospective exhibition includes his original photographic prints, graphically printed portfolios and contemporary digital prints.
Many of my photographs are difficult to make. Some can even be dangerous. I do not want to have someone else coming in harm’s way taking the risks I need to take: to lean out off a cliff or stay underwater for the sake of my picture. We control how much pain we can tolerate; such information is unknowable by anyone else. Some of my pictures might look simple, but in reality they can test the limits of what a human body is capable of or willing to risk. Thus I title them self-portraits, so the viewer knows who is in the picture and who took it.
My name is Mikko Lagerstedt; I’m a self-taught fine art photographer from Finland. I love to capture night, and atmospheric photography and I enjoy capturing simplistic landscapes.
My very first inspiration towards photography came to me when I was driving on a summer’s eve to my relative’s cabin. After a rainy day, the sun started shining, and the fog was rising in the fields. I just had to stop and watch this beautiful moment and then I realized that I want to start capturing these kinds of moments.
My photography journey first started in December 2008 and from the first moments; I fell in love with it. I like to create visually, and emotionally captivating pictures and my goal is to capture the feeling I had when I took the photograph.
Esa Ylijaasko (born 1989) is a Finnish documentary photographer and photojournalist currently living in Istanbul.
He studied photography at Jyväskylä College of Arts. After graduate through mentors and workshops.
Artist statement: “Trust your work and listen your heart and photographers who you trust and inspire your work.