Many people associate Finland with cold weather, everlasting darkness, and sprawling dark forests. However, this country in Northern Europe is not only about that and one photographer is here to show you that these stereotypes are actually wrong! Ossi Saarinen is a 23-year-old Finnish wildlife photographer who believes that Finland is much more than extreme cold and darkness. He proves that by showing the enchanting and magical side of his motherland through his nature photography.
Saarinen captures wild animals that reflect the peaceful wilderness that can only be seen in beautiful forests covering three-quarters of the country. In these untouched, enchanting and aged forests, wild animals roam freely without a care in the world and live the best of their lives. They all look mysterious, charming and fascinating as if they've just stepped out from a fairytale. Here, each encounter between humans and forest animals is a special and unforgettable experience. “Animal photography is often quite difficult. The most difficult part is to find and approach wild animals. I would say that over 90% of my time goes for searching and waiting for the animals, and less than 10% for the actual photography. Even if I find the animal, they are usually quite shy and I have to approach them very slowly and carefully or either stay still for a long time and hope that they will come to me” - explains the photographer to Bored Panda.
The photographer has lived his whole life in Finland and is really passionate about its beautiful landscapes and animals living there. His passion for wildlife started when he was just a little boy but only in 2015, he discovered his love for photography. “I have been super interested in nature and especially wild animals since I was a kid. Before I even knew how to read, I already carried a bird guide (book) with me everywhere. I spend a lot of time in nature, observing the animals with my bare eyes or with binoculars. When I was 18 years old, my dad (who also does some photography) said that I could try taking a photo of a small bird (think it was a blue tit) in our backyard. I tried and fell in love with it immediately. I started borrowing my dad's camera and going out to nature as often as I could“ - says the photographer.
Combining both of his passions was truly a dream come true. His first photography object was a family of foxes and that marks the day his artistic career started: “For two years it was just a hobby. In 2017, I captured my first foxes and from that day I knew for sure that wildlife photography is something that I want to do more professionally and I was dreaming of being able to do it for living. I started making some little money by selling my photos and decided to start up my own company. I started my Geography studies at Helsinki University and kept growing my business at the same time. In January 2019, I decided to take a big risk and pause my studies and fully focus on my photography career. Now after a year, I'm still on this path. I'm maybe going to finish my studies later, but at least for now I want to focus fully on photography. Some people keep saying it was a bad choice to pause studies, but I want to believe in myself and follow my dreams.”
When asked how long does it take to take one of his beautiful photos, the artist says: “Sometimes I chase for some specific kind of photo for weeks without success. But sometimes some animal appears out of nowhere and I get a lot of good photos without waiting at all. Usually, it takes at least a few hours to get a photo that I'm happy with. I take between 100-1000 photos per day when I'm photographing, and usually, only 1-3 of those are good enough for me. Of course, the more I take photos, the more I require from myself. I try to take better photos every day.”
His works have a strong message about how Finnish people respect and take care of the land and animals living there. Here, nature looks untouched and clean, almost sacred. It's full of different kinds of plants and animal species and you don't have to travel to another part of the country to see that because all these photos were taken less than 10 km from the center of Finland's biggest city Helsinki. Therefore, Finland is a good example for other developed countries.
“With my photos, I want to show people the part of nature that most never see. People often see animals far away and don't really get familiar with their personalities and how each individual animal is different. I want to show how different kind of view to the nature you can get when you "dig a little deeper", stay still and wait for nature to "wake up" around you. I think people should spend more time in nature, especially in today's busy world. I also want to use my photos to get people more interested in protecting our fragile nature, especially endangered species and habitats. I show the beautiful side of nature, but I want people to know that these beautiful things are quickly disappearing if we don't change the way of our lives.”
So we invite you to step into the magical and mystical woodlands of Finland with these enchanting photos by Ossi Saarinen. Here, you will find playful red squirrels, curious foxes, shy deer, and even some grizzly bears in their most intimate moments in untouched nature. If these photos are not enough, you can find his previous post here on Bored Panda.
Note: this post originally had 71 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.