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 London’s 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 approach to image-making.
My favourite of her sets is undoubtedly Dalson Blues, a series of photographs featuring the area’s all-weather markets and the serendipitously coordinated and clashing elements, outfits and objects to be found within. Shopping, living, chilling and working, taking a little time out to pose for Ellen’s portraits, the people of Dalston are lovingly observed though imbued with a sense of mystery and anonymity, their backs turned and faces obscured.
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 unstaged scenes to be found in a few of my favourite places throughout the city of London. Keep up with Ellen on Instagram.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @boogiemargaret