Who is this person behind the camera anyway?
I’m a psychologist by education
In my previous life, before we moved to California, I went to school for psychology. I worked as a children’s psychologist, and later as a vocational psychologist at the unemployment office.
I had spent my free time from school subbing as a daycare/preschool teacher – which I found myself missing quite often after graduating – so the psychologist job with kids was perfect. On the other hand, working at the unemployment office was hard for me. I empathize with people strongly, the processes where sometimes long, and I often never knew where the clients that I served ended up.
After the move to the US, I wanted to work on something where I can not only see instant results, but improve in the moment, be creative, and still support families. That is how I ultimately ended up with photography; I help families not only preserve their memories – but the really – really – important ones. The everyday little things that ultimately build up who kids grow up to be.
I lived in Finland until our move 7 years ago. While I’ve gotten quite used to life here, there are still some habits that I seem to do quite differently from my Californian peers.
One of those typical-to-Finns habits is embracing silences. It is perfectly normal that there are a few minute long silences here and there during gatherings of Finns, at dinners, or during car rides. There is no need to fill this silence with small talk – just breathe, relax, and enjoy the atmosphere.
I may come across as extra silent sometimes. It is not customary for Finns to engage in a lot of small talk – we voice ourselves when we have an opinion or if something needs to be said. We feel comfortable just observing people around us, listening, pondering. This is probably why documentary family photography suits me so well.
I’ve been entrepreneurial since I was a little girl
Ever since I was about 5-6 years old, I would craft all kinds of things – and make my parents buy them. I’d set up shop long before they were even awake. When I was around 7 and we were out at sea with my parents, I collected sea shells and rocks on an island, painted them, and sold them to fellow boat peoples. I even made my 4 years younger sister walk along the pier with a sale sign taped to her shirt.
I made 1000 Finnish marks that summer (about $160), which I think was quite impressive for a little kid!
Without having this drive in me, I don’t think I ever would have gotten my photography business off the ground. I might be making photographs, but running a business takes a whole other set of skills than being artistic.
I’ve always been interested in organizing
Even though I never reached Monica-levels of organization and cleanliness, I always tried to figure out how exactly to use space effectively, how to best store and find things – and always got giddy around books or articles around organizing. My beads were neatly organized in a multi-tiered tackle box, and as I got older it served the purpose of keeping my jewelry separated.
Wherever I would do my summer jobs, others recognized my skills for organizing and decluttering, so I would get assignments like organizing the inventory at the shoe store or streamlining the crafts supplies closet at daycare.
However – just in the past few years, I realized that organized clutter is still clutter. This is when I started really getting into minimalism. This has lead to a whole lot of purging and being ok with not filling up every possible inch – and letting things breathe instead. Having less things to manage at home is a huge relief! (Except plants, I cannot get enough plants.)
Recognizing that less is more (and then some) has helped me with my business, too. I am more tuned in to what *needs* to be done for the business, and what I can let go of. I don’t make things complicated for clients with having an endless array of products to choose from. I offer the three products I truly believe in; photo books, prints, and a specific custom framed print. My packages are simple (session, digitals, and photo book) to eliminate the stress of trying to choose from a ton of alternatives. It also makes my job easier!
I stopped being creative for years
There was a time when I was looking for what I would love to do creatively. I wrote for a while, I drew for a while. But my sister was labeled the creative one – and she did everything I did but *better* – so I gave up.
“Ok, I’ll be the academic one then.“
That’s how I ended up studying psychology, and not pursuing a creative career.
I hopped back on the creative horse as we moved to California, and DIY’d my way through our new home. I found photography, which I’ve stuck with for a good while, and am excited to see where my work and creativity will evolve from here.