Happy 100th anniversary & thank you Finland!

On 6 December 1917 Finland declared its independence from Russia. This marked the birth of the Republic of Finland as we know it today. This 100th anniversary of the declaration of independence is widely celebrated in Finland and throughout the world. Finland has been giving me so much in my photographing journey during the past few years that I decided to write this blog post, simply to say: happy birthday Finland, and thank you for everything!

My first meeting with Finland

I had to dig deep in my photo archives to find a memory of my first trip to Finland. It was on 10 December 2011 so almost exactly 6 years ago. It was raining and very windy in Helsinki but somehow I was very happy to be there for the first time. By then I lived in Saint Petersburg just across the Gulf of Finland and travelled to Helsinki to photograph a concert of Within Temptation, the Dutch band that I had been shooting for years. I wasn’t a landscape photographer yet, so I apologize for this very basic picture of the neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral.

Happy 100th anniversary Finland
The Helsinki Cathedral on my first visit to Helsinki in 2011. So much has happened since then!

The northern lights: love at first sight!

Still living in Saint Petersburg, Helsinki was just about a 3 hours train ride away. This meant a very easily accessible gateway to Lapland. Not long after my first visit to Finland, I took my first trip to Inari. This was at the beginning of March 2012. I think that I landed around 4 PM in Ivalo, and at about 8 or 9 PM I was already under such a green sky. A night that I still vividly remember, and during which the Aurora was some of the brightest that I have ever seen even to date.

Happy 100th anniversary Finland
My very first night under the Aurora Borealis. I wasn’t really sure yet what to do with the camera, but I got totally hooked. Picture taken on Inari Lake.

Compared to the next photo that I took just a few weeks ago, I am glad to see my progress!

Happy 100th anniversary Finland
On my first trip, I just watched the Aurora standing in front of the hotel. Now I became an experienced Aurora chaser. Picture taken between Inari and Utsjoki.

The polar night

The north of Finland is located at such latitude that for several weeks in winter, the sun does not rise at all. Does it get totally dark? Not really. During the midday hours, you get an amazing soft blueish light and everything turns to pastel colours. Now every year, I am just waiting for those days in the middle of winter.

Happy 100th anniversary Finland
Taking a husky sled ride in the polar night… Despite the -30°C temperature, there was absolutely nothing to complain about. Picture taken in Karigasniemi.

The midnight sun

Opposite to the polar night, during several weeks in summer the sun does not set at all. So yes, at midnight, you can just be standing looking at the sun, and you get an hours long sunset (or is it sunrise?) every day, with all the golden light that you can wish for.

Happy 100th anniversary Finland
If you play your cards right, you can even get 2 midnight suns in one photo! Picture taken on Ukonjärvi near Inari.

All parts of Finland

You may have realised that the photos above (except Helsinki) are all taken in Lapland. But believe me, all parts of Finland are amazing and beautiful as well. Every time I stand on the shore of a lake in Finland, I have this almost overwhelming feeling of quietness and contentment that I haven’t found anywhere else in the world.

Happy 100th anniversary Finland
Quietness and contentment… This if Finland for me. Picture taken in Imatra.
happy 100th anniversary Finland
And what would be such a blog post without a Finnish flag? Picture taken in Imatra.

Happy 100th anniversary Finland!

I don’t even remember how many times I have travelled to Finland in the past 6 years. This country is so special to me. It is where I really developed my landscape and nature photography and managed to grow a successful business. I have met countless amazing people, who have always helped me and supported me, and by this blog post I just want to say a big thanks to all of them.

If you want to wish a happy anniversary to Finland as well, drop a message in the comments below!

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