Photographer Jussi Hellsten
Jussi Hellsten is an advertising and commercial-documentary director, photographer, cinematographer and film editor. He’s especially known for his Helsinki pictures. He’s originally from Elimäki, which is a municipality of Kouvola. Jussi lives currently in Helsinki with his family and has an 8-month-old daughter.
Jussi, you could be regarded as one of Helsinki’s established photographers. Your pictures are seen in many adverts and articles that deal with Helsinki, such as our magazine. How did this come about?
I moved to Helsinki back in 2007, that was also the first year I contacted the people at Flow Festival and asked if I could come take some photos for them. Flow’s managing director Suvi Kallio encouraged us to consider our festival photos as a form of art, not just photos. Something clicked inside my head and I just let go of all the thoughts I had before about how photos should look and just did it the way I wanted myself. That is by far the most important moment of my career.
After that, different companies started contacting me and asking for photos in the same style. And I’m still on that path.
What do you prefer to photograph in Helsinki?
When photographing Helsinki365, my favourite opportunities were those where I could illustrate Helsinki and its people in the same situation. I think it’s the people who make the city.
What is Helsinki365?
Helsinki365 is a project where I released one photo for every day of the year. I did it for the first time in 2012 just to challenge myself. In 2013, I started to look for a partner who would be interested in being involved with this mad project. Luckily, the good people at Visit Helsinki were interested and we co-launched Helsinki365 in late 2013. This time it was not just a challenge for myself, but I wanted to document what Helsinki looked like in 2014 from my point of view.
How did you become a photographer?
That’s actually an interesting question. I had a very clear vision when I was younger that I wanted to work with video. Directing or editing, not necessarily shooting. I ended up at studying photography basics. I thought it was useful to learn the fundamentals of image making, but it ended up capturing my heart completely. Essentially, it brings me the ultimate joy when I manage to capture a beautiful photo I’m satisfied with.
Do you take selfies?
I actually started doing a selfie series of myself with my 8-month-old daughter. Also, very often when building a studio set for a portrait session, I need to test how it looks and use myself as a test dummy, so I get a new Facebook profile photo every now and then.
If visitors to Helsinki want to take some good pictures that capture the spirit of the city, where do you recommend they should go?
I’d recommend the Olympic Stadium Tower, but the stadium is under renovation until 2019. I think one of the key elements that makes Helsinki the city it is, is the surrounding water. One view I never get bored of is from the ferry to Suomenlinna.