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Lassi Rautiainen

Nature has always been a place to find peace. Nature is never nasty.
Photo: Barbara Rudin

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Featured Photographer

Lassi Rautiainen


Almost all happens by accident in life. Because I was a bad boy at school my teacher asked me if I could be a teacher for teenagers when I was myself 19 years of age. Three years later I believed to be teacher and spent 4 years in university to become a primary school teacher.

I was taking pictures everywhere and had never time to be in a small classroom. In my childhood area Suomussalmi near the Russian border, people talked about 3 things: winter war, forest work and bears. Bears took my brains (something is still left) and I photographed them in many places.

When I went to Sweden and Norway to tell others of my work photographing bears I had a new problem: many photographers wanted to join me and see bears. Nowadays we work with photo safaris between 1.4.-30.9. in Kuhmo (wolves, bears, wolverines, and eagles) and during winter also in Kuusamo where I have many bird photo hides.

I have made 3 books about bears and about 20 other books together with friends. International Kuusamo Nature Photo festival is every September and my task is to plan the programme.

Website: www.articmedia.fi


Why nature photography?
When I was 12 years old I had my own hunting dog and was hiking in the forest. Deep forests fascinated me and specially when I was sitting alone far away from houses and made fire.

When I was 19 years old I worked in the summertime for a local newspaper and realised that with a camera I can shoot better than with a gun. Nowadays I hunt only moose: smoked moose meat is the best I know.

Nature has always been a place to find peace. Nature is never nasty. Nature photos remind me of nice things and to keep up good feelings.

What's best about it?
I can document wildlife and tell other people of unique happenings. Pictures show that I am not lying. Please compare: talk about nature for one hour with any pictures and your audience may believe you. But when you show the pictures your stories are true!

A nature photographer must be happy to see, spot and enjoy things, which are not obvious for most people.

What's worst about it?
Well every work has bad sides too. I believe that in many other jobs bad sides are worse than in nature photography. A nature photographer has 3 enemies: tiredness, never enough time and never enough money.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
For many years my dream was to see and photograph bears. Since 1977 I have had good luck doing it. The next dream was to see and take photos of wolves. For the past 5 years just from my own photo hides it has been possible, and no other places in Europe is like my ‘studio’. Both animals are fantastic to observe.

I was for a long time missing eagles and now the past year I have eagles round my hides in Kuhmo and Kuusamo. King of the forest can mean bear but also eagle.

But I like to walk in the forest and seek for new places. Trees are important to protect wildlife – and me. Open fields or crowded places make me unhappy. To live in big cities is suffering for nature – and for me.

What's in the bag?
Nikon lenses 400 / 2.8 or 500 / 4.0 + converters and 70-200 / 2.8 and 17-35 / 2.8. Camera body D3 is now the best I can imagine taking pictures in darkness.

Your specialities / skills?
To sit and wait again and again in photo hides. To try to take pictures of short moments in wildlife. To find new places and to be curious.

What will you do in your next life?
Organise old slides for the next 500 years and develop black and white films which have been taken 30 years ago.

3 tips for beginners
1) Be curious and go again to the same places. Try to look at places with new eyes. You will find things, which you could not see earlier. See how you could take different pictures.
2) Do not give up. Do things again, and you will feel some satisfaction. And then start all over again.
3) Try to know your equipment and technical things well. When something happens you must be ready. Read nature.


I have visited Estonia many times but the feeling has been like a tourist photographer: driving with the car somewhere. For my mission I will concentrate on some birds and landscapes, and with good luck, some mammals.

For landscapes I hope to take from airplane: air photos tell the environment better than any other pictures.

For the birds I try to wait in a tent (hope am not sleeping too much)…

Local help is the most important thing to organise trips and to find places. If someone already knows places where to go this information saves my time.

The worst thing for a photographer is if it is raining for two weeks and not enough protection against the rain. Weather is very important. I remember my guiding trip to Lapland when my customers came to see the northern lights. The whole week was cloudy…

Best Picture

Best Picture
Fighting Bears

What's cool about it?
Bears are fighting mostly during nights when there is not enough light and pictures are too much “artistic”. But here we can see even bears’ teeth. A flying bird gives a more mysterious feeling. There are no trees, other bears or other disturbing elements.

Could it be better?
All pictures can be better! If there was an early morning light colouring animals red and yellow…and we could see water drops better.

Behind the Scene
After having spent many nights over and over in my safari hides in Finland I was tired and lazy to take pictures at all. I heard bears fighting and my friends in the hide took pictures while I was tired and half-sleeping. I took some shots and went back to sleep...

Date: 16/7/2007 02.54 am
Location: Kuhmo, Finland
Gear: D2X, 400 / 2.8, ISO 400, shutter speed 1/20.

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