I'm Sonja

About

I’m kind, creative and inclusive photographer living in Turku, Finland

I love for the little moments of everyday life –

the beautiful

I’m a kind, creative and inclusive photographer living in Turku, Finland. I live for the little moments of love and joy in everyday life – the beautiful, authentic moments that you want to remember for as long as you live. 

 

I believe that being marginalised helps me to recognize and mind the needs of different kinds of people. My values define me. For me, it is of utmost importance to be safe and inclusive to everyone. On my free time I’m a raging feminist with a soft spot for people who are trying their best (like myself, haha). The least I can do is to actively educate myself on equity, especially on themes that I don’t have a personal experience with, such as racism and ableism. At the same time I dream of a world where one wouldn’t have to write this in their About-page, because all of us would be truly equal.

There have been times in my life when I haven’t felt safe and in my work I’ve made it my top priority to create a safe space for you to explore and express your identity, power, vulnerability and love. I want to be someone with whom you feel comfortable to share your thoughts and feelings as well as ask anything that might come into your mind.

 

I value trust and always respect your boundaries: I never share the personal stuff you might tell, I hear you through the process and wait for your consent before, for example, sharing your images. I recognize the authority I have as a photographer and try to unwind it by letting you define what we are doing and how. At the same time I do my best understanding and meeting your needs with the expertise I have so that you don’t have to hold up the process any more than you want!

 

My pronouns are they/them.

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my core values

Value 1

human rights / equal opportunity

At the very core of everything I do is the knowledge that human rights belong to everyone. With my work I stand firmly against exclusive politics, structural oppression, discrimination, the concept of norms of any kind, and any systems that define our worth as humans. We are all worth equally and that should come with equal rights, representation, opportunity and resources. In my work I try to support this through actions like positive discrimination, representation, educating myself and using my platform to speak about these matters.

 

I believe that human rights are not negotiable, nor are they a matter of opinion. There are no two far ends of the spectrum, if one end is “wants human rights to all” and the other end is “wants to kill or oppress some people because they are not the way they like them”.

Value 2

representation / inclusivity

For me inclusivity is not a passive “all are welcome”, but an active choice to learn how to be a safe person for those who are different than I am. Through my work I want to celebrate the bodies and people that are rarely seen in that way in the media or photography portfolios. I want to use my space to give room to the ones that usually don’t feel seen, don’t feel represented, the ones who don’t find themselves in many other places. Representation is not an answer but a tool: through that we can broaden our sense of beauty and humanity altogether.

Value 3

body peace / kehorauha

I believe that if we could release ourselves from the internalised body ideals and widen our sense of beauty, we would be happier and more free. And I believe that it’s possible and something everyone should work towards. There’s a million ways to be fatphobic or ableist towards both oneself and others, and I’m so tired of hearing them all.

 

Body liberation and fat positivity are good for everyone, since every single person suffers from fatphobia and narrow and sometimes even unrealistic beauty standards.

 

Every person has a right to their own body and to be free from oppression, prejudice and discrimination. In my work space that means, it is always a place free from talks about weight, diets or negative self-talk. We don’t have to touch you during your shoot and even if touching is okay for you, we always ask for consent each time we need to fix your hair or clothes. A safe experience is at the heart of my work – only this way can we create images that truly express who you are.

Value 4

the right to safe space

Everybody is entitled to spaces where they feel safe from violence (both physical and mental), discrimination, inappropriate language, privacy violations, triggers or having anything done to them against their consent.

And with my work I want to offer people such spaces. I grew up never having a real place like that, my home never felt safe, and when I finally found this place later in life, I realised how important it was. Now, my home is both my safe space and yours. In our home studio, we want you to feel free to be yourself, to feel seen and see yourself the way you want to. You can read the instructions for safer space here (link).

Value 5

sustainability

I believe that we should unite as a humankind and do everything in our power (and that’s a lot) to stop global warming. I actually believe that we should have done everything we could for decades, and you can see the last point for the rest. Nothing makes me sadder than seeing the economy and capitalism being prioritised over the climate over and over again. Short-sightedness makes me angry.

 

We try to make the most sustainable choices possible for our business, compensate our emissions and aim at being 100% carbon neutral in the near future. We’ve set a limit for the growth of our business, because infinite economic growth can never be sustainable.

My aphantasia

When I close my eyes, all I see is black. If I’ve understood correctly, there’s a line in between vivid mental images and just darkness, and I’m in the far end with no visual imagination whatsoever.

When I studied photography, I got anxious every time we had to plan the images beforehand. It took me a long time to learn my way of guiding people in front of the camera too, because I don’t have the references in my head the way some photographers do. During my studies I dropped out from the course of constructed photography, because guiding a model in a studio space to fit a planned vision and then building the image from pieces in photoshop was so distressing that I cried multiple times trying. I’ve heard hundreds of times that I lack imagination, and that’s true in a way.

 

How does aphantasia affect my work?

I KNOW, for example, what different weather conditions are like, but I don’t have a visual memory of them. The same applies to guiding the client(s): I know what kinds of directions usually work, but I don’t see how they might look beforehand. That’s why I usually give prompts instead of poses and let you just be there, and take a documentary angle in everything I shoot.

Just being there with oneself or together is powerful and I deeply believe that you don’t have to pose all the time, just breathing is enough. I still hope that people don’t feel like they don’t know what they should do. That’s why it’s super important for me that Tinksu is there during boudoir shoots, where you feel the most vulnerable, to guide you in ways that don’t feel natural for me.

Visual references are an important part of my process because I would never get a full image of what kind of mood the client wants if we’d only use words. I always go through the photos the client gives me and turn them into words through which I can understand the atmosphere we’re after.

The greatest gift in aphantasia is that I only see what’s in front of my eyes. I never chase after my own strong vision or get grumpy about the ”wrong” conditions but document what I see and am there for you. And I have to say that after finding my own ways and strengths, I wouldn’t change it!

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a little list about me

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first dance songs that make me cry every time:

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life I Say a Little Prayer Perfect

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songs that I would put on my boudoir playlist:

Hei sisko Apocalypse Syntisten pöytä

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things I take with me to every shoot:

Plastic bags (we tend to end up shooting in the water quite often!) Double the needed amount of everything (camera, batteries, memory cards) A thermal blanket

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things I take with me to to every wedding:

Comfy & silent shoes Three kinds of painkillers A water bottle

The images

Step 4

If you choose the full gallery beforehand, you’ll get your finalized 200+ images in a digital gallery within two weeks OR if you want to have an image reveal face to face with me at our studio, that’s a possibility too. After the image reveal we can check out some products (album, prints and wall art) and you can decide if you want to order some from your images.


If you choose a smaller package, you have two options: you can get an online gallery and instructions for selecting your photos and possible products via email within a week, or you can come to our studio, have a cup of coffee or tea or a glass of wine, find the same relaxed mood we had during your shoot, and go through your images for the first time together with me. In our meeting I will help you choose the photos and possible products that you will cherish forever.

Inclusive photographer

We all have the right to feel valued and seen.

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© Sonja Siikanen 2022 | Inclusive photographer for boudoir, weddings and family | Turku, Finland