Date and place of birth: Recife, Brazil. 9 August 1979
Place of residence: Helsinki
Education: Bachelor of Photography
Family: Husband, two kids, mother-in-law, a bunch
of nephews, aunts, crazy mother, grandparents – it’s the Brazilian way, everyone who is related is part of the family!
When I got my first camera I was…ten years old and it was a really crappy film camera.
I have always wanted to…do a major photo shoot for Vogue.
I admire…Annie Leibovitz.
In the future I’d like to…be able to make a living with fashion photography in Finland.

A photographer with an undefeatable attitude and a passion for Finnish design, Daniela Talvitie is the woman behind the lense of Fashion Photo Helsinki.

STILL somewhat unknown to the public, Daniela Talvitie is a rising star in the fashion photography industry. She is the creator and photographer of Fashion Photo Helsinki, an exhibition celebrating Finnish fashion design, currently on display at the Design Museum in Helsinki.

For the past year the determined Brazilian has been working endlessly, not only with the photographs, but the entire concept: from proposing the idea to different fashion designers; to finding sponsors, and even personally walking up to the museum to present her idea for the exhibition.

After a full year of hard work, the exhibition is set for show, but it hasn’t all come easy. During one of the final photo shoots, Talvitie’s camera with an entire day’s work was stolen. After the initial shock, the photographer decided not to be defeated and accepted the fact that she had to organise a re-shoot and find another camera to use.

A few weeks before the eve of the grand opening of her exhibition, Talvitie sat down with SixDegrees to talk about fashion, photography and life in Finland.

You are originally from Brazil, how did you end up living in Finland?

Well, it’s the usual story for many foreigners living here: my husband is Finnish. We met in Brazil and started dating. After about three years it became too hard to live in different countries, so I moved here for a year to see how I could fit in. We got married in 2003 and now we have two beautiful sons.

So you must have found that you do fit in! How did you find life here in your first year?

When you move abroad it takes time to adjust. My first year here was good, it was all so new and I was really curious and happy about life here. Of course I had a few depressing moments as well. But I think it gets harder in the second year, the third year you hate it and the fourth you end up loving it! (Laughs) It’s very weird, it’s like a process. Also, I used to live in Lahti and it was much harder to live there as a foreigner than here in Helsinki. It’s very international here and I made a lot of friends very quickly.

To talk about your work, did you work with fashion photography in Brazil already?

In a way yes, but I actually hadn’t studied photography before coming to Finland. I had a lot of experience from event organising. My father is a politician back in Brazil and he has always been supportive of the fashion industry and modelling, so he is very involved in the industry. This is how I got involved in fashion as well. I used to work for my father organising different events, doing the PR and also taking the photos of the events. So, in a way I was doing exactly what I’ve done now with Fashion Photo Helsinki, except that in between I’ve gone and got the education in photography and I’m doing it now as a professional!

So you studied in Finland. What was that like?

The study language was Finnish, which was a bit tough as I didn’t really speak it! (Laughs) But photography is such a creative field that you really learn by doing and not by theory. Of course my tutors did speak English to me when needed and photography is also such an international industry that it’s very important to know English. Actually the school found it a positive thing to have me there to bring a touch of the international world into the degree programme.

When it was time to find work was it hard to get your foot in the door in the Finnish fashion industry?

After graduating, I decided that I didn’t want to start knocking on every door looking for work, as there are so many good photographers in Finland already. Instead, I decided to show the people I wanted to do work for what I can do. I came up with the concept for the exhibition, researched Finnish fashion designers, picked whom I wanted to work with and contacted them by pitching my idea. It was actually quite easy to get them on board in the end, same as with the Design Museum.

You must have made quite an impression! What do you think was the key to your success?

I believe in my idea so they must too! I know that my heart is in the right place with this project. I want to do my best with my work and show the designers’ work in the best way possible. I also have this attitude that nothing is impossible. When I come up with an idea I pursue it. For example, I wanted to shoot inside the Uspenski Cathedral and when I got the idea, people told me that it wouldn’t be possible. But I decided to find out anyway, and in the end I was given permission for it. So, everything is possible if you just give it a go.

How closely did you work with the designers?

It was really different with each designer. Some of them just provided me the gowns and gave me a free hand to do what I liked with them. Others wanted to be very involved and came to the shoot, and we worked very closely together.

Do you think your Brazilian background influences your work?

Not consciously. But the Brazilian in me always thinks that everything could be bigger and better. When I’m working I can easily lose sleep over an idea. I’ll spend a whole night thinking about how to make it better. It also gives me the attitude that I have that everything can be arranged.

Is Finland a fashionconscious country in your opinion?

More so now. When I first came here it wasn’t so much, but now people are getting braver with fashion – you see ladies in high heels and well-dressed people much more than before.

Can you compare the fashion industry of Brazil and Finland in any way?

Not really, no. There’s just no comparison. Brazil is so big, and we have so many super models and designers. I’ve tried to actually get some media coverage in Brazil for my exhibition, but I’m not sure yet if it will work out. Brazil doesn’t really even need anything from abroad, but this doesn’t mean that they are not interested in international design. I think Finnish fashion design could be a success over there, as Finnish architecture and some Finnish music is quite popular amongst Brazilian people already.

How would you describe the year that you’ve had working towards the exhibition?

It has been a lot of work, quite stressful at times but also very rewarding. When you are building something great there are always a few setbacks along the way as well, like my camera being stolen. This was unbelievable, it was like losing a child! I felt really hurt and angry, but I had to get over it and complete the work with a borrowed camera. In the end the exhibition was not jeopardised and that’s what’s important.

How do you feel now on the eve of your exhibition?

I’m very nervous. At the same time, however, I know I’ve done my best with the resources available. I’ve worked very hard and I do believe that it is a great exhibition.

What plans do you have for the future?

I have an idea of photographing only women and making them look very bare. So that might be my next project. But I don’t want to abandon Fashion Photo Helsinki either. Really, I’m not sure what my next move will be, we’ll just have to wait and see! (Laughs)

Fashion Photo Helsinki 27 August-19 September Design Museum Korkeavuorenkatu 23 www.designmuseum.fi

Petra Nyman