Sanni Saarinen

Longing for roots is a personal journey to reconnect with my roots and to find my place where to belong. I started to photograph it in 2015 when I returned to Finland, to my home country, after living more than a decade abroad.


Soon after our daughter was born. As my spouse is Spanish, we still spend part of the year in Spain.

Motherhood, living between two countries and my return to Finland had made me to think a lot about identity and roots, home and belonging. In the end these topics are connected to the questions about the meaning of life and existence.

To know who I am, I need to know why I live.

In Finland we moved to a village in the archipelago to live in close connection with nature. Through nature I am not only connected to the place itself, but to the universe and myself.

Nature puts things in perspective and reminds me of the transient character of life.

Trees loose their leaves with the autumn winds but new ones will grow at spring. In the same way I am just part of the much longer chain of generations and lives. My life is an instant in the face of eternity.

Life is in constant change and I felt I need something permanent to hang on to. I started to photograph places I felt instinctively connected to in some deeper and mystical way.

Later I read about toposphilia (topos is Greek for place and philia for love), the concept humanistic geographer Yi-Fu Tuan uses to explain humans’ emotional ties to places.

Through different sensory stimulus – smells, visions, tastes and feelings – the places remind us of experiences we once lived in other similar places. Our relation to a place is not defined by the place itself, but by the emotions it causes us.

In this sense the search for roots is not a search for places, but for emotional landscapes of love, consistency, unity and security.

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