In Conversation with Maija Astikainen

Hämeenlinna for Huili magazine
Interview by Elizabeth Pollard

Maija Astikainen is a Helsinki based photographer currently working on her masters at the Aalto University school of art as well as being comissioned for commercial and editorial work. Her latest personal project, Horticultural Cities, was released this summer and with another book, One-Dog Policy, in the pipeline, there is no chance of this girl slowing down. We caught up with Maija to talk inspiration, style and up coming projects.

You cover such a broad range of subjects – from landscape and travel documentary to portraiture. Where do you get your inspiration?
I get inspiration to do my personal projects, which deal with the relationship of nature and urban people, mostly from reading the news and magazines. I get interested in things and phenomenons that happen around me or elsewhere in the world and I want to photograph them. I have a background in portrait photography and often the way of realizing the projects comes to portraiture one way or another. For commissioned projects my favourites are the topics that I have a personal interest of – like travelling or gardening. I also get inspiration by browsing through magazines, books and blogs.


Horticultured Cities

Do you think you have developed a process or ‘style’ in your work? How has it come about?
I think my style is close to deadpan photography. I mostly like things to be quite plain, lines straight. I’ve tried doing other things but I always come back to that. I like to put the focus on the subject.

Do you look for certain characteristics in your subjects in order to shoot them? And/or do you think it’s important to build a relationship with your subject when shooting them?
I can’t say that there would be any certain characteristics. Depending on what I’m doing it can be the story behind them or esthetic things, often both. Finding a contact with the subject is important, but it depends on the situation. I’ve been shooting a lot of dogs lately, and with dogs taking a photograph is quite different. You can’t really say that there would be a relationship, and I like the randomness of the situation.

Which photographers do you admire most?
So many! But to name a few, I’m a big fan of Pieter Hugo’s works. Also I love the style of Ye Rin Mok and Alec Soth.

What advice would you give aspiring photographers, or anyone wanting to move into the creative industry?
Do your own thing, the topics and the style of what you like and what you really want to do. Make others interested in your thing, not the other way around.

What is in the future for Maija Astikainen?
During the next few months my purpose is to finish writing my photography master thesis. After that I’m hoping to work with interesting commissions and start making a book of my new project ’One-Dog Policy’.





From the series ‘One Dog Policy’


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