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Helen Korpak

The Finnish photographer talks about youth, cameras, disaster haircuts and Japanese writer Banana Yoshimoto

Helen Korpak is 22 years old and studies photography in her hometown of Helsinki Finland. Having just used a camera for five years, Korpak has already managed to develop a distinct style, coloured by eerie landscapes and the Finnish attitude to life in general. We wanted to find out more about her so we caught up with her to chat about her native country and the work she produces...

When I first started photographing, I just took pictures instinctively and only started seeing patterns and themes after a few years of shooting

Dazed Digital: How do you like living in Helsinki?
Helen Korpak:
Helsinki's awesome. But there are many awesome places in the world, so it's not like I don't ever feel like getting away.

DD: To the outside observer Finland looks so beautiful but you told me most people living there have a different take on it. Can you explain?
Helen Korpak:
It's often hard to imagine that someone in an exotic place can be bored of his or her environment, but it's inevitable. When you live in a country that is first dark most of the year and then light non-stop for a few months, you're bound to get a bit frustrated.

DD: How long have you been shooting?
Helen Korpak:
Almost five years now - I started right after I turned 18, out of a sense of duty because of the camera I got as a birthday gift. 

DD: What was your first camera? What camera do you use now?
Helen Korpak:
As a teenager I shot a little with a digital Fuji compact camera. It broke when I was 16. I'm sad there's no proof of me being young and reckless. I had really ugly glasses and a lot of disaster haircuts so maybe it was for the best. Nowadays I shoot 35mm film for my personal projects. When I go digital for some commissions, I use a Canon 5d that I borrow from the school I attend.

DD: Your photos seem to have strong themes of youth. Do you consciously think of themes when you are shooting?
Helen Korpak:
When I first started photographing, I just took pictures instinctively - which is still the way I work most of the time - and only started seeing patterns and themes after a few years of shooting. I recently fell in love with this quote by Banana Yoshimoto... "regardless of all the amazing events that happen to each of us, there will always be the never ending cycle of daily life". It really captured something that I've been trying to find words to describe.

DD: What's on your 'to do' list for the next five years?
Helen Korpak:
I try not to think in imperatives or dictate my future, keeping the present situation together is enough work. I do have some vague plans though; mostly they're all about becoming more aware. I do definitely want to carry on with photography and see what happens.