I've actually never met Sanna in person. This queen lives across the pond down under. How the heck did I meet a photographer that I admire so much and yet lives thousands of miles away? The beauty of Instagram my friends. I was invited to be in a group pod of other lady photographers. Slowly but surely, I started picking up on sarcasm and wit from this one in the response comments. Little known fact, anyone who can make me laugh is a winner in my eyes. Eventually, we started reaching out to one another and the rest is kind of history. If you enjoy photography, you NEED to go check out Sanna's work. It's warm and emotional. It's moments and family and the joys and the hardships and all that is captivating about motherhood. (And yes, I meant to write "and" 50x in one sentence.) She is also a mother of two and in being so, you feel her experiences through her lens. As mothers, some times it can be challenging to get through the day. So often, we feel alone when all we need to do is reach out. Her work is a reminder of exactly that. Her ability to engage her audience is beguiling and one day, I hope to have my family photographed by her. Since I couldn't take photos of her, she went out and took a few of herself and sent them to me. If you have a minute, go take a look at her work on IG @sannatphotos. Truly, it's magical. First, come meet my funny, Finish friend who lives in Australia-Sanna.
What is your name and how do we know each other?
"Sanna Toykkala and we know each other through IG."
How old are you?
What are you currently doing with yourself?
"Parenting most of the time..trying to be a photographer ….desperately. Well, trying."
Are you where you hoped you would be? If not/ Why? If so-what do you love about it and could you see yourself doing anything else?
"I think I am kinda actually where I want to be. I would love to have more clients. I know that will come. Career wise, I think this what I want to do. I am a civil engineer but I haven’t done that in 6 years. I feel like this is my calling."
Women are becoming a resilient sound that cannot be silenced. What are you doing to contribute that sound?
"I don’t know if I am doing anything at the moment. I come from Finland. In Finland women and men are quite equal. Finland’s prime minster is a 34 year old girl and she is doing wonderful things. I have always been around it. I feel like in Australia the gap is still huge. I would like to do something about it. Being a parent, I feel like I have that influence over my children."
What is something you learned from a younger age that has stuck with you?
"Women can do anything. Whatever guys are doing. We can do the same things. Except we can do more."
Who is an individual who made a profound impact on you and why?
"My mom with her kindness and love. My dad who pushed me to do things. Pushing me to be an engineer."
What is a weakness or something that exposes your vulnerability and what do you do to combat/embrace it in order to grow?
"A large part of my insecurity was the language barrier. I was afraid to speak English, I wanted it to be perfect. I guess I am really insecure. I am learning all the time. For example when I started my photography it was in May but I didn’t speak to anyone about until Sept. I wasn’t embarrassed. I just felt I wasn't good enough because I hadn’t studied. I have a lot of insecurities. I rarely speak highly of myself and I need to be more proud of myself. That’s why I am doing to self portrait challenge this year on Instagram- to learn to love myself more."
What is something that you want to accomplish and what are you doing to get to that place, if anything?
"I want to be an amazing photographer. I am hoping to do empowering sessions for women at some point. I want to run a business that is a good business so I can earn enough for my own salary. I am practicing, shooting a lot and trying to shoot every day. Studying about marketing and studying about running a business."
And now..a few questions to lighten the mood...
Dogs or Cats?
Cheeseburgers or Salad?
Beach or Mountains?
"I would like to have both. I would go with the beach but would like to live with both."
Sweet or Salty?
Lose all of your old memories or never make new ones?
"Never lose old memories"
Disney..or is there any alternative?
"No there is not."
What is a fun fact that someone may not know about you?
"I might buy candy and won’t tell anyone. I hide them and keep them to myself. My aunt came last Christmas and gave me a huge bag and I hid them in the dark because I didn’t want to share."
And the final two important questions...
What is a common misconception about you that people make based on your appearance? What is your truth and how do you personify strength? "Some people think I am really snooty based on my looks. I have a resting bitch face.
The truth is I am just insecure. I am really quiet and shy. I am not the one to start a conversation. I usually just listen. I should smile more, I think."
You have inspired me. What about yourself do you hope to put out in order to inspire other young people?
"Good photographs. Empowering images of women so they don’t have to think about thinking that 'they don’t look right'. There’s something beautiful in everyone."
Self Portraits by Sanna Helena Photography
Edits by me