How did I become a photographer part 2 – getting into schools, Siilinjärvi and Lahti

How did your local supermarket cashier become an art student?

I worked as a cashier in this big hypermarket for almost two years. As I was scanning the bar codes of milk, beer and pre cooked corn (I learned it’s barcode by heart because that sucker never scanned) I had loads of time to think. I remember one day I just started thinking about what I liked to do in my free time. I was having fun taking pictures for my fashion blog and I was interested in tableware and cutlery. I realized then that some people take pictures for a living and if the prince of Sweden can design cutlery so can I. 

In 2012 I applied to Savonia AMK for an industrial design program and to Ingman edu to a photography program. Both of them had pre-assignments and entrance exams. The one advise I got from my friend who studied in Savonia was to read the assignments in the exams really well. It was a good note because a lot of the assignments were long and complicated. Maybe on purpose? I was so nervous during the interviews at Savonia that I focused too much on looking like I was listening rather than actually listening. “Sorry, can you repeat the question, I forgot to listen.” 

During summer 2012 I received two acceptance letters; I got into both programs. To be honest I don’t recall why I chose Ingman edu and photography over industrial design. I think it had something to do with the length of the program. I had already been to high school so the photography studies would have lasted only 2 years. And if I didn’t like it I could apply to Savonia again. 

But I liked photography! Ingman edu is located in the middle of fields, we could see cows, nature and have coffee breaks sitting outside on grass. The buildings are old and have seen many students come and go. Our home teacher was super inspiring, supportive but took no bullshit. He called us out of being lazy and pushed us to do better and see other solutions. “Always ditch your first idea. It is the most obvious and most boring” he used to tell us. Before studying in Ingman edu I had a pretty narrow view on photography and what it could be. But my teacher introduced us (or atleast me) to so many different fields and ways to use cameras as a medium. I somehow realized I could use photography as the way to express the things I wanted to paint and draw before. 

In Ingman one of the best things was the dark room course. I liked it so much and the rooms used to be an old kitchen.

In Ingman I made so many great friends and in spring 2013 my friend Katri told me she was gonna apply to Lahti Design Institute, Muotsikka. What was that? But it is so difficult to get in! Who gets in there? Do we dare?
During Easter break we did our pre-assignments together. I was half serious, half fooling around. For me, applying to school again was just to see what happens and maybe practise for next year, we still had one year left in Ingman. 

We both got into the entrance exams and it was so exciting! I traveled to Lahti and stayed at my friend’s place. They were both studying in Lahti Design Institute and it was fun to hear stories from them and walk to Kannaksenkatu campus every sunny morning together. Back in 2013 the exams lasted 4 days and on the 3rd day half of the participants were cut. The other half was interviewed and still had a chance to get in. 

We had 2-3 tasks everyday. On the 1st day we took images with disposable cameras and the rest of the days were spent drawing, painting and drawing. One of the most stressful and also funniest tasks was the one where we had 5 minutes to read the task and 5 minutes to take 5 frames that tell a story. I have never been so nervous holding a camera after that.

Some of the disposable camera assignments from entrance exams. My teacher remembered these pictures even when I was on my 3rd year studying.

I got interviewed (I was the 2nd last so the teachers were kinda tired), traveled home and waited. We were able to call the head teacher the next week to know if we got in. It was the last weeks of May, sun was shining and with shaky hands I called. I was prepared to hear a no or a yes. But what I got was a maybe. I was 2nd on the waiting list. I had to wait until the end of July to hear if some people who got accepted in canceled, postponed their studies etc. I remember the head teacher telling me to enjoy my summer and not to worry too much. But I did. 

The whole summer I just waited for the end of July. I was doing an internship in a small camera store/studio in Kuopio so I had something to do. While waiting I heard so many discouraging comments like “You will never get in” and “Shouldn’t you be good to get into that school.” I can still remember them and they still hurt. But I still believed and waited. Somebody always gets in. 

On 31st of July 2013 I called the student office of Lahti Design Institute right away when it opened. The person who picked up had just started their first day at work after summer vacation and of course had no information yet! They promised to call me right when they knew. After some time that felt like forever they called and told me: “Welcome and congrats, you have a study place here in Lahti.”
I went out from our backdoor at work and did a victory dance and song. Just like in movies. I started to look for an apartment, took the 1st one I was offered, packed my belongings and moved to the other side of Finland. School was going to start in a few weeks! 

It was official! I got into Lahti Design Institute!

In the next part I will tell you about my studies in Lahti!

How did I become a photographer? Part 1

My way to creative studies Cameras and family album photos have always been in my life as a true 90’s child. Few of my aunts were taking pictures at every birthday and celebration. I even had my own cameras and mom got my films developed. I must say the images are not great but I appreciate the support.

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Hello and welcome!

My name is Ninni West and I am a photographer from Helsinki, Finland. In this blog I will share my creative processes and stories behind the scenes. What happens in photoshoots and how I end up with the finished images. I want to open the world of creativity to teach you something and learn from you.  I hope

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