Traveller-photographer Pentti Sammallahti captures the mysteries of nature on his travels and among these, the world of birds. Coastlines, swamps, parks, endless plains, forest clearings, snowy landscapes… In these isolated areas, birds slyly reveal their presence.
Like visual tales, his B&W photographs attest to his extraordinary eye for detail, to light that sculpts spaces, to silent expanses in which a human or animal presence suddenly appears. The experience of the image is twofold: beyond its narrative virtuosity, his use of a two-colour process, with immaculate whites (as in the plumage of his swans or pink flamingos) confronted with deep blacks, creates a play of textures and powerfully renders a world in which birds play a unique role.
This book constitutes one of the two first titles of Des oiseaux (On birds) collection celebrating, through the vision of different artists, their immense presence in a world where they are now vulnerable. Accompanying these photographs, the ornithologist Guilhem Lesaffre showcases the relationship to the seasons that is a fundamental aspect of the life of birds. Where it exists, winter is a major constraint that birds must grapple with and that notably leads to strategies in their search for food and energy economy, or socialising. The author here associates the life of birds in winter with Pentti Sammallahti’s photographs.
Inspired by the title of a poem by the Finnish writer Aaro Hellaakoski, Me Kaksi (which translates to "us two" in English) celebrates the fortuitous encounter, the strange closeness, the presence in the world of two beings. Spanning more than forty years of peregrinations across the world, the photographs in this book, combining a selection of iconic and some unpublished ones, reproduce these fleeting moments seized surreptitiously by Pentti Sammallahti. The idea of the duo, the couple, of all kinds of accomplices appears recurrently in the photographer's work. Whether it is lovers, friends, children, passers-by, travelers, neighbors but also a man and his dog, two birds ... these images tell of attachment, tenderness, the universality of the emotional bond, “being-in-the-world” together.