In 2008, Finland-based youth photographer Aki-Pekka Sinikoski—known to most as simply, Peki—began working with 150 artists to curate a show at the Helsinki Design Museum. He enjoyed the group’s artistic atmosphere so much, that afterwards he planned to continue working collaboratively in all of his artistic endeavours. However, with the sudden illness and death of his brother in 2009, Aki-Pekka’s plans changed, “I no longer had the energy to be the person who brought people and things together.” So he set out on his own, working on a solo personal project photographing the teenagers of Finland, “mainly so that I would not become friends with sorrow.”
In the beginning of the project, Aki-Pekka worked without much direction or purpose. He simply shot, for quite some time, trying to concentrate on his work other than the pain in his life. However, as time went on, Aki-Pekka began to take note of the teenage images he connected with the most in the series. He soon realized that his interest lay in capturing change. With this new focus in mind, he then began to try and capture teenagers that were, “in the borderline between childhood and adulthood, and the awakening identity that can be seen in this teenagers looking for themselves.”
Aki-Pekka is pleased with the way the series came together, saying,
I believe that Finnish Teens is a colorful, gently humorous, but sensitive photo documentary about the lives of Finnish teenagers. The photographs’ worlds interlink and complement each other like the individuals stories in a collection of novels.
I suggest that the collection of novels tells us about a life that you no longer feel is your own. It’s a story about waiting for your own wings to carry, and discovering yourself again.
He wasn’t the only one who felt moved by the images. Aki-Pekka’s photos have since been published as a cover story in the Photo Raw magazine (along with a 29 picture spread) and the series is also currently been exhibited in the Finnish Museum of Photography, as well as being covered in Finnish newspapers, radio programs, and even television. Aki-Pekka’s photos have struck a cord within his countrymen, with many visitors coming to view his gallery exhibition and even more sending their support through emails and phone calls.
It seems to be that the series has been really important for many people. One Finnish man in his sixties phoned me just to say that the series was like a mirror where he could see both his own teenage years and the present at the same time. I think that’s pretty much the best feedback a photographer can get.