In Avanto’s new “Sauna Chat”, we interview our Artists about their lives, what drives them forward and the inspiration behind their art. In today’s edition, we bring you the lovely Anna-Elina Lahti.
Tell a bit about yourself. How did you get into photography?
I’m Anna, a Finnish photographer who is passionate about nature. Photography has always been an essential part of outdoor adventures in my life. My parents would take me on camping trips, even before I could walk, and mum used to carry a film camera or two everywhere, so I got used to it being a part of our trips. When I was young I spent a lot of time looking at old photos and grew an interest in documenting life through photography. First I just used a point-and-shoot in my teens, but when I lived abroad and did a bit more travelling I got my first DSLR. After moving back to Finland, it was only natural to combine my two biggest passions, outdoor lifestyle and photography.
You split your time between the UK and Finland. What inspires you in these places?
The UK has something for everyone when it comes to culture, food, music, art, history and languages. I enjoy sometimes chaotic life in London (although working and commuting inside the city can be very stressful). The multicultural atmosphere and the fact you can find any cuisine to your fancy. The best thing about London is how every borough has a it´s own atmosphere and character. I have been to some nice National Parks in the U K, and I especially enjoyed the lush forests and waterfalls in Wales. Hiking there is very different from Finland – the trails go through sheep pastures and during peak seasons you see more people hiking on a single trail than you might see on the streets of Helsinki. It’s the complete opposite of all of this that inspires me about Finland – the quietness, the different conception of personal space and the lack of distractions. We are still lucky to have some untouched wilderness, and as awareness of the threats it’s facing grows, I hope we can still find some truly wild places in decades to come.
You spend a lot of time in nature. Do you find it hard to balance the fast-paced world, where everything has to be shared instantly and the slower life in nature?
Being in nature is the perfect cure to release stress and take every chance I can to do so. Hiking up a mountain can be tough for sure, but it certainly makes you forget about the depressing headlines filling up our newsfeeds. All our senses are much more alert when we’re surrounded by nature and I wish I could achieve the same state in the city. It’s pretty easy to achieve the balance though, and I hope that by sharing my experiences in nature I could inspire someone to go out and seek that stress cure themselves, too.
How do you see the future of photography? What kind of media will there be? Do you think photographers will still use Instagram in 10 years?
I could imagine photography going two different ways. There are always people who enjoy all things nostalgic and original, and the popularity of analogue photography has been steadily growing for quite a while now. People are enjoying editing styles that emulate the film look. There’s a certain feeling of unpredictability about film photography, the excitement of developing and editing in the darkroom and not being able to have full control over the results. I can definitely relate to that myself, especially after having built a pinhole camera and developed the photos from it myself when I was a child. Then, of course, there are people who just enjoy the aesthetics of including a Leica as a part of their outfit.
I’d see the other direction being something very perfectionist, leaning on the rapidly improving technology of DSLR’s and editing software. I could see wildlife photography getting more readily available for everyone when not just the high-end ranges of cameras have excellent features from ultra-silent shutters to perfect weather-sealing and tack sharp autofocus on lenses.
Even though Instagram makes it easy to present your work and communicate with your audience and fellow photographers, the platform has seen its best days and has started to become stagnant over the last year. I hope someone develops something new soon, a more dynamic and community-driven platform. As I still browse Instagram most days I find it less and less inspiring as there’s not much authenticity there anymore.
I feel Instagram has changed the way people perceive photography today – it seems like a lot of people take photos with only Instagram on their mind. There are certain elements and locations everyone wants to include in their photos, forgetting that they could actually capture and edit images in their own unique way, add their own touch to everything they see. It would be wonderful to see people creating something more personal and relatable again.
Recently I learned about the massive engagement groups that are made to trick the algorithm and boost engagement in the very first moments after a new post has been uploaded. It sounds no different from buying likes and followers. I find it absurd the measures people are ready to take to gain social media affirmation, and I wonder if that kind of artificial growth will make anyone feel good about their photography, let alone learn and improve.
Last but not least, I see a huge risk of the environmental damage being caused because of Instagram – people are hungry for the likes and go over and beyond to get “the shot” for Instagram. They don’t care about the rules of conduct, thus showing a bad example to their followers who might copy their behaviour. Everyone has the responsibility, especially everyone with social media following, to educate themselves about all rules and restrictions (e.g. drone laws) and leave no trace principles. Even the greatest shots are never worth any damage to delicate ecosystems or wildlife that has been habituated to being fed by humans for photos. Respect nature and wildlife and even better, educate your followers.
What’s the last book you read?
The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
Any New Year’s resolutions/travel plans for 2018?
To be stricter with me about waste – obviously being able to lead a fully zero-waste lifestyle is the ultimate dream, but unfortunately, it’s not achievable when taking into consideration all aspects of living in a Western society. I also have some plans that I look forward to but at this point, I don’t dare to say anything out loud until it’s all set in stone.