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Inha as a photographer

Between 1889 and 1890 Inha photographed landscapes in Germany, Austria and Italy. Like other masters of the golden age of Finnish art, Inha also brought international influences into Finnish art, but the roots of his most characteristic expression were in the landscapes of deep forests and frontiers. Legend has it that Inha visited every rural municipality in Finland.

In 1892 Inha photographed the landscapes of Northern Finland at the behest of K.E. Ståhlberg, the owner of the photographic studio Atelier Apollo. The photographs were put on exhibition and printed for sale. In 1893 Inha photographed the the landscapes of Eastern Finland. These photographs were also exhibited and made into prints for sale.

In April 1894 Inha left with K.F. Karjalainen on a journey to Viena Karelia, where he photographed the habitat, life and folk culture of the locals. The journey resulted in over 200 pictures of aesthetic and cultural-historical importance. Around half of them were put on exhibition in November and December of 1894.

In 1895 Inha spent nearly the whole year travelling around Finland and photographing landscapes for the book Finland I Bilder (Finland in Pictures).

In 1898 Inha took more pictures for Atelier Apollo’s landscape series in the archipelago of Turku and Helsinki and in North-Western Finland.

In 1899 Inha photographed Finnish agricultural work for the Agricultural agency. The pictures were on display at the Paris World Fair of 1900. In the same year he also photographed Finnish tar production culture in Oulujoki for the publishing company Otava. The intent was to publish a collaborative book with Teuvo Pakkala. Pakkala, however, did not write his part and the book never saw the light of day.

In the beginning of the 1900s Inha continued in the spirit of the work that he had done for the Agricultural agency and continued photographing in the region that formed Satakunta at the time, now funded by Kansanvalistusseura, The Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation. At about the same time Väinö Voionmaa was composing a history of Tampere and Inha was asked to provide photographs of urban landscapes for illustration.

In 1908 Inha photographed Helsinki for a guidebook of the city, published by WSOY and edited by the Savonian-Karelian student nation. Only 60 photographs were used in the book, however, and 130 photographs were left unused in the archives. In 2009 they were assembled into the book Helsinki – valon kaupunki. I. K. Inhan valokuvia 1900-luvun alusta Helsingistä (Helsinki – The city of light. I.K. Inha’s photography from early 20th century Helsinki). The negatives have now been donated to the Finnish Museum of Photography.[1]

From 1913 to 1914 Inha’s long-term publisher WSOY ordered a series of landscape photography. Inha no longer travelled over Finland for landscapes, but settled in Padasjoki for two summers and in Lohja and Virrat for the winters. The order was made without a specific publishing plan, mostly for the purpose of providing work for a fine employee. The money surely proved to be well spent, for the pictures of the series eventually ended up in a number of photographic works published during the interwar period.

I.K. Inha was the most significant landscape and milieu photographer and documentarist within the field of Finnish photography in the 1890s and the early 1900s. The field was fiercely competitive. Karl Granit, Daniel Nyblin, Vivi Richter and many others travelled around the country photographing landscapes. The competitive setting may have increased Inha’s enthusiasm for his work. Inha rose to be the single most influential landscape photographer in Finland. Even though he received recognition for his art already while living, in the early and mid-1900s a lot of his pictures were published anonymously, with no mention of the photographer. A large part of his photographic negatives have gone missing, but various archives hold prints of many of his works.


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I. K. Inha
Lähetyssaarnaaja (The Missionary)
Kertomus Etelämeren saarelta (A tale from an island in the South Sea)
written in 1884

For a price of 28 € + delivery costs.
Preorder by 30th October 2015
for 20 € + 6 € delivery costs

The Finnish Museum of Photography: Anniversary year lecture 12th November, 18.00
Researchers Jukka Kukkonen and Kati Lintonen discuss Inha and his photography.

Landscape and time – I.K. Inha and K.A. Ennola
The exhibition opens on Tuesday 10th November, 17.00.
A photographic exhibition from 10th November to 5th December 2015 in Galleria Virinä (Pääskyntie 4)

Photographer, BA Kari Ennola lectures on
I.K. Inha's photographic journeys and photographic wholes

10th November, 18.00 in the Virrat Town Council Hall


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