Meet the Squirrel Whisperer and His Stunning Wildlife Photos
Helsinki-based photographer Konsta Punkka has charmed people all over the world with his powerful portraits of wild animals and magical landscapes — and earned himself the quirky nickname ‘Squirrel Whisperer’. In a conversation with Tales by Trees, Konsta talks about his personal connection with forests and reveals some of his plans for the future.
What kind of meaning do forests hold to you?
For me, the forest is a place of relaxation, the beginning and the end. I’ve always been fascinated by the forest because it’s like a world unto itself. When I’m in a forest, I feel more like myself than in the city. These days, I live in the city because of work; but I couldn’t stay in the city for more than a few weeks at a time. I need to escape it once in a while.
What is your earliest forest-related memory?
My earliest forest-related memory is camping in a forest in Central Finland with my grandfather when I was a child. Those experiences of camping with my grandfather are also what initially inspired me to start taking photographs of nature about ten years ago.
~ I started my autumn roadtrip ( Ilomantsi – Nuorgam) from Hattuvaara area two days ago. This area is only few kilometers away from a Russian border. After hiking close to the border for whole day me and @joonaslinkola found this pretty unique cottage from 1936, which used to be the cabin for timber rafters.
In Finland, forests are a big part of the landscape and most people consider them to be places of refuge and calm. In many other countries, however, people tend to think of forests as ominous or even scary. You have a very large international following — do you think your photographs have given them a fresh perspective on forests?
Yes, I believe so. I hope my photographs make people appreciate nature more, and I think they have been effective in that way. For me, the forest is such an important place of relaxation and just being at peace with myself, and I want to convey that in my photographs as well. And it is important to be aware that cities are full of nature and animals, too.
What is the most beautiful thing you can see in the forest?
The slight fog and fresh scent just after it has rained in the summer. I love walking in the forest after a rain, it’s always a great moment.
What is the most rewarding animal to take pictures of?
I like taking portraits of foxes especially. They are such expressive and fascinating animals.
~ Back in Finland. / To all of those who wondered was my yesterday's post real, yes. Earth pillars, in dry conditions the brown soil is hard as a rock but when it rains it turns into a muddy mass forming 10 to 15 meter high slopes. The rocks up top protect the soil underneath them creating the breathtaking earth pyramids. Nature is amazing ????
What do you want to convey with your photographs?
I think many people lack an awareness of the nature surrounding them in their daily lives. I want to make people more conscious of nature. With my animal portraits, I also just want to convey what the animals are experiencing in the moment the photograph is taken.
What kind of projects are you planning on doing in the future?
I want to keep depicting animals in their different environments around the world. I especially want to do more work related to endangered animals to raise awareness. Soon I am going to Svalbard to photograph penguins and polar bears. That has long been a dream of mine, so I am very happy about it.
What has been the greatest place you’ve photographed in so far?
Patagonia in Chile. I photographed pumas and other fascinating creatures there. It was just amazing.
~ Staring at the eyes of a wild puma just few meters away was definitely one of my craziest experiences of 2016. 10 meters away is often the limit between pumas and photographers but after long and steady calm approach we managed to sneak just few meters away and I got this shot. Check what happened behind the scenes, link in my bio. #yleareena #exploringearth