Even though Tiina Törmänen was born and raised in a small village in southern Lapland, in the middle of fairy-tale like woods and lakes, it wasn’t until she moved to Helsinki in 1998 that she became interested in photography – the exhibition posters on the subway peaked her curiosity. She quickly attended courses and bought her first camera from the savings from her paycheck. Since then, Törmänen developed an awe-inspiring style of photography, in part because she eventually moved back to the surreal landscapes of Lapland.
How did living in Helsinki for 12 years influence your work?
Without that experience, I would see the world differently, and I would not be able to shoot the photographs I shoot today. At the time, I wasn’t even thinking about nature photography. I was more inspired by street photography. I got involved in many underground cultures, I shot life around me, I documented people. It was one hell of a ride.
Törmänen therefore advises anyone who is from a small village, to go and live in a big city, even if it is just for a little while. To her, that’s the only way to learn anything about life, people and cultures.
Eventually, Törmänen moved back to Lapland. To explain what is so special about Finland’s northernmost region, other than its “great infrastructure, easy access and amazing nature,” she referred to the Wikipedia page about the country’s”freedom to roam.”
The freedom to roam and related rights are called “jokamiehenoikeus” in Finnish and “allemansrätten” in Swedish (lit. “the everyman’s right”), similar to other Nordic countries. Everyone may walk, ski or cycle freely in the countryside where this does not harm the natural environment or the landowner. […] One may stay or set up camp temporarily in the countryside, pick mineral samples, wild berries, mushrooms and flowers, fish with a rod and line, row, sail or use a motorboat on waterways, and swim or bathe in both inland waters and the sea, walk, ski and ice fish on frozen lakes, rivers and the sea. […] The right is a positive right in the respect that only the government is allowed to restrict it as in the case of strict nature reserves.
Törmänen does admit that someone who actually lives in Lapland, eventually “gets used” to the beauty the region has to offer. She still loves its winter, but usually spends summers traveling south and meeting friends. So what’s a summer in Lapland like? “Swimming and misty forests at midnight,” she says.
Tell us about your most exceptional shooting experience.
Last winter, I wanted to go to this specific hill, and I had to drive for 65 kilometers with a snow mobile to get there. It took longer than I thought, because the route was in such a bad shape, and I couldn’t ride recklessly in the middle of nowhere. After about 4-5 hours, I arrived at the foot of the hill, and I still had to walk up in deep snow. That also took longer than I expected, and I ended up missing the sunset I initially went out there for. But then some auroras appeared. I only had a brief time to take pictures, because I still had a long way back, but it was worth it.
Nowadays, Törmänen fills her winter days with teaching photography workshops. She loves to take people out with her to some of Lapland’s most amazing places, and loves to share her shooting skills with them. If you’re interested in tagging along: visit her website! If you just feel like keeping track of her photography, you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.