Again we talk about young globetrotters with art and beauty in their hearts. Today I take a Kahvi and eat a PULLA with Camilla, a young 29 years old Florentine photographer temporarily based in Kärsämäki, Finland, for a total of five months. Again, with the technology fon our side, none of us had to hop on a plane and we can enjoy our little chat in front of a computer screen. She studied photography at the three-year course of the Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence , concluded in September 2015, and won the final scholarship.
L – Ciao Cami! How are you?
C – Ciao Linda! I’m fine thanks. A bit sad because the return is close but I certainly can not complain.
L – Oh yeah I can imagine…So Finland huh? first what everyone really wants to know, what’s the weather like now?
C – Now it’s wonderful to be in Finland! The night is not night, because the sun sets at 23 and rises around 3:30 am and the temperatures are always above zero. One Sunday also reached 18 degrees C! But January was challenging. The days were short, no more than 5 total hours of light and the temperatures were very strict, reached almost -34 C for a few days and have remained quite a bit below 0 until April. Just imagine, if you were walking for 500mt your your hair were litterally frozen,as well as nose hair and eyebrows! Everything, however, was rewarded with long saunas and the northern lights during the night, so well, even the winter has its good points.
L – Yeah I actually enjoy cold weather but I never thought about visiting such a cold place, maybe I should give it a try. Would you say that seasons are the same as Italian but colder?
C – I’d be really curious to live here during summer and fall in order to better understand the totality of the Finnish seasons. I can definitely tell you that the winter is much colder than ours (waaay colder!) and there is a lot of snow and a few hours of light. The spring, however, promises to be so totally different from ours. The symbols of the coming spring are the icicles, because the temperatures begin to rise and the snow starts to melt, the swans flying because they return from migration, and the trees and the woods that change appearance. At first everything it is white and frozen, then you begin to see the true colors. Now that we are in mid-May, they start to bud the leaves on the trees and, finally, we see the first flowers.
Surely it is different from what we are used to, but undoubtedly gorgeous.
L – Well yes, you definitely make me want to go! Talking about serious things, you call yourself a photographer or is more a hobby?
C – Well even though I understand that it’s quite hard to make photography my main economic entrance, I am confident. It is not just a hobby, it’s a passion, a job and a continuous search.
L – You worked in Italy as a photographer or you did something completely different?
C – Both things. I worked for many years in a restaurant in the center of Florence, and in recent years I have gradually left that job to devote myself, heart and soul, to photography. I started working as a freelance and in the context of marriages, starting as an assistant for Lisa Poggi, a photographer of weddings for foreigners who come to get married in Italy.
L – How did you come to photography?
C – I have always been passionate about creativity in general. As a child I extolled the design and illustration, but I always had a camera in my hands, I shot in every situation. I was obsessed with pictures of everything that was happening to me. At the end of high school I had the “great existential crisis”, I enrolled in International Studies in Political Science but after some tests and a lot of frustration, I realized that it wasn’t my field, not what I was passionate about. I believe in strong emotions, I need to feel satisfied and I chose to start studying photography, first with a basic course at the Fondazione Studio Marangoni, then with a theatrical photography course, and then enroll in the annual course of the International School of Photography APAB that allowed me to continue working in the restaurant. Initially it was a hobby, rewarding activity, and I approached slowly. Then, over time I realized that with a camera in my hands I felt really good and I chose (with quite a few anxieties and problems related to the fee) to enroll in the undergraduate program of the Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence. I wanted it to become my profession.
And here I am. I still believe it.
L – It looks like you found your way then, I know it’s not always the first one… and what do you like about photography? why?
C – On one hand I have a great fear of not being able to remember and I have the selfish desire to stop the time, that’s why I like to live many situations with a camera in hand. On the other side I discovered the power of the images and the great ability they have to convey a concept, to tell a story, to activate the thought and make you ask questions.
L – So you see photography as a form of expression..
C – Absolutely. With photography you can express the thoughts, investigating the fears, limits, taboos. I give you an example. Since a couple of years I am working on a project on eating disorders. It ‘a project born from my desire to investigate and fully understand an issue that I lived close by and, documenting and meeting people who have a history of anorexia and bulimia, I approached the topic. This work has absorbed a lot of energy and allowed me to express strong emotions tied to the issue. In “Like a River” (title of the project) I am present too, although not really.
L – It sounds very interesting and I totally agree, I think the power of an image is huge but it also depends a lot on how good is the eye behinf the camera (and you ARE really good)… favorite subjects?
C – I don’t think I have a favorite subject. Since some time on I am passionate to that branch of photography that seems to be a little connected with psychology. I like to tell stories with concepts and symbolic images, through which the observer is guided just until a certain point and then is left free to interpret.
L – and I personally like when the image doesn’t tell you everything. And why did you end up in Finland?
C – Because I love Nordic photography with its soft light and the apparent simplicity of images. Elina Brotherus and photographers of the Helsinki School were my first major Scandinavian loves. When I chose to take part in the program “Residenza d’Artista”, I sent applications in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland. I was selected in Finland, and now that I’m at the end I really think it couldn’t be better place.
L – and how big is Kärsämäki, is that an important big city?
C – Uhm, no, I would say more like a village in a very isolated place. Kärsämäki is a small town in central Finland, an hour and a half from Oulu, an important city in terms of economy and culture. They are in the countryside, surrounded by forests and fields, the village has two supermarkets, a pharmacy, a church, the total of three stores and counts 280 souls. In its being a reality very small compared to what I am used to back in Italy, it is very active culturally and is in a strategic location because it is very well connected with both the Lapland and the south of Finland.
L – I know you had an exhibition recently right?
C – Exact. I’ve had two. One was opened in Rovaniemi (the ci
ty of Santa Claus) in late April in Varina Gallery along with other photographers and artists. The other one was inaugurated on May 14 to Arthouse Nahkuri of Kärsämäki. In both, it was put on display the project “Like a River” about eating disorders.
L – and it was your first show?
C – No, it was not the first, however, the exhibition of Kärsämäki was the first in which I had an exhibition space completely for myself.
L- Well that must be exciting! You believe that the Finnish public is more or less receptive than Italian?
C – I felt it very receptive and very interested, but in order to really make a comparison I should live in Finland for longer. The realities of Oulu, Rovaniemi and the Kärsämäki area seemed to me very well arranged, but I’d be curious to get feedback in Helsinki or Tampere to see if even in large centers, which they define Finns away from the Finnish culture, I could achieve the same level of interest.
L – Ok now I have to ask you … Nightwish … I know you have some fun fact to tell us…(for those who don’t know what we’re talking about Nightwish is a Finnish metal band).
N – Hahaha. Alright, Nightwish. Totally unaware of who could be (the metal is not one of the genres I prefer), I went to hear a Finnish group that was recording a new album in a recording studio in the forest. Interesting situation for the cool idea, but I was totally unaware of who they might be, I thought they were a little known metal group.
I see a blond guy with folkloric look and ask him to take some photos because he is totally in contrast with the white color and white of the surrounding nature. He agrees and I start moving him and give directives, forcing him to twenty minutes of photos. He was nice, I was exalted.
At the end of the “violent photo session” I introduce myself.
Hello,by the way my name is Camilla.
Hello, I’m Marco Hietala from Nightwish.
Seeking his name on Wikipedia, just to see who could be and…ok. A metal band of world-caliber. Great.
L – Ahaha well you have a VIP in your portfolio now! Going back to Finnish culture how was the cultural impact?
C – Shocking less than what I expected. Finns are not as cold and hostile as the people are pictured in the popular imagination. It’s a different reality but culturally they are not so far apart from us.
L – First positive and negative first impression?
C – The first positive impression was the welcome I received, the negative was the physical distance between people. Generally the distance between one and the other is at least of an arm, and as an Italian that has the contact craze even whimsical, at times it has been difficult not to go beyond that invisible limit.
L – Would you move in Finland on a permanent basis?
C – It’s a question that I asked myself often. Surely it is a country that fascinated me a lot, but I still think one of the attractive parts of leaving is knowing that sooner or later you have to go. I can not see myself out of Italy indefinitely, I see myself more in a wandering and a return.
L – In Italy there is a bit the myth that older people in northern Europe speak English fluently, you had to learn Finnish or English was good enough?
C – Learning Finnish is hard. I survived with English and with a few words of Finnish. And if I was not understood, as a good Italian, I communicated with the universal language of gestures.
L – What will you miss the most when you’ll come back?
C – Beside the people I met, certainly I will miss a lot this peace and this silence. The contact with nature is constant and my day is pleasantly changed in favor of a more peaceful and less stressful life.
L – And you will return to Italy to take root or you consider the idea of moving?
C – I plan to move again, but as I said before, with the intent to return.
L – So you think you can live in photography?
C – That’s my goal. I am positive and quite stubborn. Fingers crossed.
L – Well we are positive too and wish you good luck and we hope to see soon some of your works overseas! Have a good one Cami!
C – Thank you!! Have a good day!