Ellen Syrjala was raised in Kauniainen, Finland but her photographs feature scenes far from Finnish climes. Any Londoner, tourist or day-tripper who’s ever taken a wander through Ridley Road market or moseyed down Kingsland High Road will no doubt recognise a few landmarks, textures and characters from Ellen’s photographs. Based in east London, having studied Photography at the London College of Communication, Ellen’s shots offer a winsomely glam, yet deeply realist look at our beloved Dalston.
Having explored the markets of the east end and further afield in spots like Elephant and Castle, dabbled in fashion photography and gotten serious with colour, Ellen’s distinctive style now rests on blending the two styles of photography. Her serious portraits of visitors to striped fruit stalls and tongue-in-cheek shots of the fruit itself, dolled-up and shrouded in powder-pink fluff are a heady mix of street and studio shoot. It’s clear that Ellen has a bold, positive and unapologetic approach to image-making.
Ellen also lends her hand to a little art direction and marketing, which given her seemingly excellent sense of humour and penchant for juxtaposing pattern and colour is good news. Our favourite of her sets is undoubtedly Dalson Blues, a series of photographs featuring the area’s all-weather markets and the serendipitously colour-coordinated people who call the streets surrounding them home. Shopping, living, chilling and working, taking a little time out to pose for Ellen’s portraits, the people of Dalston are not so much gushily celebrated as lovingly observed.
Having experimented with traditional documentary photography styles throughout her studies, Ellen’s personal style has developed rapidly. The result is rooted in the desire to share the unfussed, unhurried and decidedly unstaged scenes to be found in a few of our favourite places throughout the city. Why search for colour anywhere else? We think Ellen has the right idea.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth