Photographer Dorit Salutskij
Dorit, you live in Suomenlinna. What’s it like?
Absolutely lovely. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I am to be able to live here. Of course, island living isn’t for everybody. You can’t take a taxi to your doorstep, and you can’t order food from Wolt. I don’t mind those things though. I enjoy the proximity of the city and taking a ferry there, and the fact that nature and the sea are so close. Suomenlinna is filled with history; there are beautiful buildings, cobblestone paths and sights that call out to a photographer all over the place. The community spirit on the island is admirable; nobody feels like they are alone. Children run to their friends and adults bump into each other in the main road. The island has given me many wonderful friends.
Suomenlinna is the most popular sightseeing attraction in Helsinki and countless of tourists flock to it every year. How do the inhabitants of Suomenlinna peacefully coexist with the masses of visitors?
I think it’s a good thing that the guests bring life to the island and its services. Without the tourists, many services would quickly die out. On hot summer days, however, it gets extremely crowded. Queues at the grocery store grow longer and ice cream flies of the shelves. Paths get blocked by crowds of tourists, and at their worst, queues to the ferry grow to be dozens of metres in length. In reasonable amounts, tourists bring in cash flow and a positive busy atmosphere.
What kinds of services are available to the inhabitants of Suomenlinna?
The basic services on the island include a store, which also offers postal and local travel services; a day-care centre; an elementary school; several cafeterias and restaurants, some of which are closed in winter; a summer theatre; a guest harbour; a church; a library; a bicycle rickshaw; a vet who visits once a month; several museums; water police; and emergency services which are on call in summer. In addition, there are many skilled inhabitants who offer various services, for example a masseuse, an osteopath (also for dogs!), a Rosen bodywork practitioner and a doula.
How did you end up there?
My own story is rather unusual because after a long and a rocky road, I now own a residence in Suomenlinna. The many twists and turns that took place over a period of about six years and all of it happened in the same building, and actually in the same apartment as well. However, most of the apartments in Suomenlinna are rental apartments owned by the Governing Body, and you can apply for them during set application periods. There are a lot of applicants, and which one of them gets the apartment is determined via a lottery.
You’re a professional photographer. Have you taken a lot of photographs in Suomenlinna?
Yes, absolutely loads of them. It’s easy for me to blend among the tourists because I almost always carry a camera with me. I even shoot some of my commissions in Suomenlinna. There are beautiful and interesting places everywhere. I’ve also shot pictures for the Governing Body of Suomenlinna to feature in brochures, posters and the website.
What is the best part about living in Suomenlinna?
All my adult life, I have dreamt of living in an old wood house, and now my dream has come true. I also have a small studio in an old stone building a little way from home and a patch of land for growing crops on the neighbouring island. I could hardly ask for more.