There aren’t many Finnish photographers in the world’s eye and Sammallahti (Lens Culture Link) is not a big name, but his work is no less brilliant because of it. I’m posting a link here precisely because many photographers have not heard of him, although I suspect many would recognise some of his better-known images. I’ve found myself coming back to his images recently and they’ve given me plenty to ponder.
I’m not going to waffle on about his work other than to say I find it rather refreshing in a world of projects built upon concepts underpinned by precepts. He photographs what catches his eye. His prints are toned differently; they are printed to different sizes, with varying crops/aspect ratios, shot on different cameras, printed with different approaches. And it all works, because all of this variance is a product of a recognisable core.
His work bounces around between documentary, fine art and reportage and it’s as if he has stuck two fingers up at the idea of being constrained in approach and personal pleasure. He’s not making political statements and he’s not claiming to have reinvented photography. He’s a traditionalist and a meticulous one at that, but his evident mastery of technique has in no way overpowered, or even competed with his passion. One also has to respect the incredible candour and unwillingness to dress up a wonderful photograph with masterly statements (Guardian Article)
Sometimes we want to look at photographs that alternately enchant, amuse, surprise and calm us. It doesn’t have to be complicated and with Sammallahti, it isn’t.