Can you start by telling me how you first got interested in photography?
I first found my love for photography after getting my first SLR camera way back in the 1970’s. That was the start of it all for me and I haven’t looked back since!
What was it that attracted you to start taking photos of the Northern Lights?
I've always enjoyed photography and taking photos, but it wasn't until 1994 whilst I was working in Rovaniemi with Lapland Safaris that I made my first Aurora collection. I made it with a slide film and whilst pitting it together I really developed my love of the Northern Lights.
How were you able to make a name for yourself in the business?
With the help of my wife Anne and a lot of hard work! I think it helped that we were one of the first ones in the area to run a dedicated Northern Lights holiday destination. As well as this I think that my photography helped to promote what we were doing and we were also fortunate to have some help through working with the Sámi Siida Museum too.
Which other photographers would you say have inspired you and your own photos?
I would say that there are two main photographers who have inspired me; Martti Rikkonen and Jari Peltomäki. Martti for his ability to take stunning and award-winning Northern Lights photos and Jari because he is a fantastic wildlife photographer.
What equipment do you use?
I have two main cameras that I like to use, a Canon 7DMK2 and a Canon 6D. I use these with a number of different lenses ranging from 8mm to 400mm depending on the subject. I would say that a good tripod is vital if you want some nice photos of the Aurora.
Do you have any particular spots that you keep going back to when you want to take photos of the Northern Lights?
Yes, I have quite a few places which I go back to when I'm taking Northern Lights photographs. A lot of them only I know about so I don't publicise them, but I do take guests there so I can share the experience with anyone who wants to capture the Northern Lights.
How much of the job is about patience?
A lot! Especially when the weather might not be at its best. You know that the Auroraare up there it's just finding a way to get away from the cloud cover. I'm lucky because I live in the Aurora Zone so I'm in the best place to see them and so are the guests who stay with us here in Menesjärvi.
Do you experiment with your photography?
When the night is clear and the Aurora activity is good I like to try and photograph different kinds of landscapes under the sky. I also think that the foreground can really make a good shot into a great photo, so that is something that I look out for too.
Do you have any tips for people trying to take their own photos of the Northern Lights?
Yes, patience would be my number one tip, as well as making sure that you have the correct set up on your camera!
Why should people come to Menesjärvi to take photos?
We have two different Aurora workshops for anyone who stays with us, and the hotel is full of camera guidance and explanations on how to set up for the coming night of Aurora displays. If in any doubt, our guides are always on hand to help guests set up their camera too!
As well as providing workshops at the hotel I also teach Northern Lights photography in the Sámi Educational Institute for wilderness guides. I'm trying to pass on my knowledge to the next generation of guides so that there is always someone there to help if you're struggling to get the right shot.
Menesjärvi is everything you'd expect Lapland to be like. With snowy forests and frozen lakes in the winter to burnt autumnal colours in September and October, it truly is a stunning location to hunt for the Northern Lights. About an hour's drive from Ivalo Airport, just when you thought you couldn't get any more remote, you arrive at the accommodation right on the shores of the lake.
You can find out more about our holidays to Menesjärvi here.
Image credits: Timo Halonen