"He's the best in the city"

Stockholm, March 2017. It is a busy afternoon at Veikko's place in the southern part of the city. I come there along with Mikael Jansson Siallagan a good friend and a great photographer. 

The reason I wanted to visit Veikko is that he is a legend among photographers in the city. Starting back in 1989 he has dedicated his work life to the delicate task of processing film. You may argue that anybody can process a roll of film. Well...yes. But it takes a lot of experience to handle color film (C41 process) all different kinds of black and white films, many formats like 35mm, 120, 220 mm or large format etc.
As we are talking to Veikko, a young woman from USA enters the store. Her name is Victoria. I ask here why she comes to Veikko; "He is the best in the city", she says. Many prominent Swedish photographers would probably agree, because Veikko has worked with a lot of them in various projects. Just to mention a few; Hans Gedda, Nina Korhonen and Denise Grünstein. 
From 1989 until 1997 Veikko worked for a major professional lab in Stockholm with 70-80 employees. And it was all about color reversal film ( slide film). It seems so long ago...you know that type of photographic film that produces a positive image. If you are old enough you have probably endured (or enjoyed?) watching slides projected on a wall, typically from the photographers latest holidays. 

But the fact is that most professional photographers at that time used reversal film, whether they worked with fashion, marketing or for a newspaper. And Veikko was there to help them out. 

Around 1995 there was a shift away from slide film and when Veikko started his own business in 1997, he decided to leave out processing slide film. "Color reversal film is like a living creature, like a sourdough. It takes a lot of skill and a lot of work to get it right." 
Veikko may have done the right thing but when the new millennium arrived, there was a much more powerful contender to film - digital photography. Transparent film with a gelatin emulsion and light-sensitive silver crystals has been used for over a hundred years. Many thought that film was doomed when the digital cameras arrived. Now you can capture photos with your mobile phone and instantly post them on the Internet.

Perhaps surprising to some, Veikko is far from a film fundamentalist. His interest in photography started because he was fascinated by pictures. "It is great that the public now have an imminent access to pictures - thanks to the digital revolution" 

We are about to start a discussion about selection. How can you select from a chip with 1 000 pictures? 
Well, that subject will take some time to penetrate and it is Friday afternoon and a lot of things to do in the lab. Veikko tells me about his "yellow book" where he keeps his secret recipes - and we are not talking food. 

His great experience helps him a lot in finding the right mix of chemistry, agitation, temperature etc. His store is open to professional photographers and some of them work with large format negatives and this is an important part of Veikoo's business. 

He also offers low- and high resolution scans as well as contact prints.
However Veikko is happy to serve photography "enthusiasts" as well. And it is apparent that they have found a person who receives them well. I talk to Robert who has entered the store. He is in his mid twenties and has just recently picked up analog cameras and film for his work. He tells me that he is building an archive of his pictures and that he gave up digital photography because he wanted to make fewer and better pictures. 

His friend Joel says that he likes Veikko because "he puts his soul into what he's doing". Could you come up with a better slogan Veikko. I know that Veikko uses about 0,1 % of his budget for marketing. 

If anybody should think that this article is made for marketing reasons, you are on the wrong planet. There is a word in Swedish called "eldsjäl" (someone who's soul is on fire and who shares his/her passion with everybody). I can't find an English word that matches "eldsjäl". "A dedicated person" comes close, but fails in explaining it fully.
So the bottomline is: I meet "eldsjälar" now and then and just by chance another one is residing just around the corner from Veikko's place namely Izzy Young.

Please visit the homepage of TeamFramkallning where you will meet Veikko every weekday.

All photos are by Mikael Jansson Siallagan. Thank you Micke!

Mr Urbano