April 5, 2018

10 Questions: Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen is a founder of Amber Film and Photography Collective.

  1. What constitutes a perfect photo?

A perfect photo for me has the power to arrest my heart and mind.

  1. How does the lifestyle in Newcastle upon Tyne differ from Finland?

Finland has created an egalitarian society that offers ordinary people more opportunities and reasons for optimism. Both Finland and Newcastle upon Tyne have strong people with great self-deprecating humour.

  1. As your photographs were described in the UNESCO Memory of the World register as ‘of outstanding national value and importance to the United Kingdom’, how would you describe the value of photography for society?

The Amber Film and Photography Collective, of which I’m a founder member, has engaged with the working class and marginalised communities of the North East for almost five decades, with the aim of giving voice to and celebrating their unique stories.

  1. What has been the most fascinating topic to capture and why?

It must be Byker, as I lived and photographed there for seven years and 35 years later returned to photograph for another six with my project Byker Revisited and the film Today I’m With You. And once again now, I’m reconnecting with children I photographed there at the very beginning.

  1. Whom do you admire?

I truly admire the grassroots activists who risk their lives and livelihoods in order to make the world a more decent place and habitable for future generations.

  1. Being the mainstay behind Amber Collective for some 50 years, what keeps you going?

It is the Amber Collective itself that keeps me going. We created the collective as a long-term engagement with the values and passions we share, building on friendship and mutual support.

  1. How do you see the evolution of photography in recent decades?

Fewer photographers have the means to devote themselves to long-term projects nowadays, but more people have cameras.

  1. You have had a long and significant career as photographer, is there something you feel you have not accomplished as yet?

The world offers no end of new interesting projects. The challenge is to find platforms for the outcomes. The AmberSide Collection Trust holds prints of all my projects along with those of many other photographers, finding new ways of keeping them alive and relevant for wider audiences.

  1. What sole item would take with you to a deserted island?

I would like a surfboard to practise on as I already take a body board for my morning dips in the North Sea.

  1. What is your number one tip for someone who would like have career as a photographer?

I have no idea how to build a career as such, but I would suggest you think of it as a lifestyle. Photography for me is a passport to worlds I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. It keeps me learning and curious.


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