The Helsinki School represents a selected group of acclaimed visual artists who have either taught or studied Photography at Aalto. It offers a fresh approach to photography education and a vehicle for collaborative thought and cooperation. What began as an educational experiment in the early 1990s has evolved into one of the more recognizable teaching programs in the world.

The approach sought from the beginning to initiate and advance new career opportunities for graduating MA photography students. Finland had just emerged from the devastating recession of the 90s and found itself in a moment of economic and cultural stagnation. The cultural climate for galleries was provincial and lacked international standards. Opportunities for new graduates were virtually nonexistent.

Gallery TaiK/Persons at Paris Photo

A whole new generation of artists had no choice but to look outside the Nordic region in order to pursue an artistic career. This was the perfect time to create a professional studies program that could introduce, teach and, in a sense, mentor the skills needed to launch an international career.

Our vision is to introduce the students early on with the international expectations they will later face. To do this we designed a multi-level teaching system, using both the commercial and institutional environments as a means of referencing information for self-evaluation.

We do not only teach photography but also question art and ideas. This approach aims to prepare students to present, write, and edit their ideas to the highest artistic and professional standards. This academic platform was realized by Timothy Persons with the inspired efforts of dedicated photography professors such as Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Jorma Puranen, Ulla Jokisalo, Timo Kelaranta, and Jyrki Parantainen.

Read more from Helsinki School webpages.