Hidden in the heart of the Finnish wilderness, is a determined young woman who traded city life for an existence of near solitude with 85 huskies for company. Not many people would be up to the challenge of braving temperatures that hit -45°C but they aren’t Tinja Myllykangas who values her privileged interaction with nature over material goods.
Tinja lives without electricity, relying on a wood stove for heat and candles for light and she allowed photographer Brice Portolano to spend two weeks with her capturing her unique way of life. The strong-willed blonde decided to leave behind her biological studies in the city of Jyväskylä, Finland, for the Arctic landscapes of Lapland, in 2008. She yearned for the untouched wilderness that she had on her doorstep rather urban life because she grew up surrounded by animals.
And so she embarked on finding a spot to raise sledding dogs, eventually settling down near to the Muotkatunturi nature reserve – 180 miles from the closest town. Tinja cultivates a strong relationship with the dogs, who she said need a lot of exercise. Part of strengthening her bond with them is getting to know each pack member individually. She also keeps horses and dog wolfs, canines where one of their parents or grandparents was a wolf.
According to Tinja, the breed are extremely faithful and follow her wherever she goes. She told Portolano: ‘I like being on my own with the dogs and horses. I think being alone is the most peaceful way of life there is.’
Chores never feel like a burden for Tinja, who said she doesn’t feel the need for material possessions and is energised by the beauty of nature around her. Tinja’s wooden home is devoid of running water and food is cooked outside on an open fire or on the wood stove.
But according to the French photographer, the hardest thing about Tinja’s life is not necessarily the conditions or harsh temperatures, but the absence of daylight, which can last for over a month.
‘She lives a very basic life and has to break the ice of the river every morning to get her water,’