tisdag 1 december 2015

In memoriam: Claire Aho

 This Sunday, Photography lost one of its shining stars and true pioneers. In a world of photography almost completely dominated by men Claire Aho emerged with the attitude that she only took pictures - and that was fun - she emerged one of the star photographers of Finland and one of the few women in the profession during the 1940s and 1950s. An early adopter of colour photography, she sold her first print as a teenager and continued to excel in her field - sneaking into Porkala without official permission to document the transfer from Soviet control and covering the 1952 Helsinki Olympics (as the only female photographer to do so), her photographs are far from conventional and with a life to them not often seen in that era and with an amazing command of colour. She was also an outstanding videographer, making the documentary "Laulu meren kaupungista " to celebrate Helsinkis 400th Anniversary.

Claire Aho 2010
Claire Aho visiting one of my exhibits in 2012
Even after she moved to Stockholm and her retirement, she continued to do work for several institutions who valued her knowledge and expertise. In recent years with much help from her son, her images has once again found themselves in the spotlight, a time capsule of a different era and even today, the pictures stand out.

I have known Claire since I was a little boy. Back then, she was the friend to the family with the three dogs who we frequently visited but it was only when I got into photography myself that my eyes where opened to her work, leading eventually to an invitation to Helsinki to attend the opening of one of her exhibits. I am still quite amazed by the work she put into her pictures. They have a truly unique style to them - as if the people in them are merely with a friend and it just happened to be a camera present. They are natural in a way that is contrasted by the colours and the composure, glamorous yet almost ordinary in a way. It is a wonderful combination. She also had that special ability to capture common situations and capture the very essence of them as shown by her tremendous work in capturing life in everyday Helsinki.

I am proud to have known Claire Aho and hope that her work will never be forgotten. It is a rare glimpse into a time that myself and many others will never experience and her bravery in doing what she liked regardless of the expectations of society alongside her grandmother and father sets a truly shining example for all of us, even to this day.

Visitor at one of Claire Ahos exhibits in 2012

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