Dog days

30 September 2010 | This 'n' that

Russian dogs by Pentti Sammallahti (Solovki, White Sea, 1992)

How does he do it? The dogs pose in Pentti Sammallahti’s photographs like professional models who know how to keep still.

Sammallahti admits sausages and sardines sometimes help communication.

In 1998, in the old, printed version of Books from Finland, we published a selection of Sammallahti’s photographs, together with some written impressions by the British photographer and essayist John Berger. According to him, people who first see the selection of Sammallahti photographs he has, ‘usually gasp at first, and then peer closer, smiling,’ as they seem to remember something they knew as children, but which they have forgotten how to see – from the times ‘we talked to the dogs, listened to their secret and kept it to ourselves.’

Sammallahti (born 1950) is one of the pioneers of the Finnish photographic art and fine art printing, which he has also taught at the University of Industrial Arts and Design in Helsinki.

Specialising in black-and-white photography of people and their environment, Sammallahti has travelled extensively throughout Russia and Siberia, France and Finland. This autumn his work is featured in a retrospective exhibition at the Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki; you can see a selection of his photos here.

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