Where Are They Now: Marke Liimatainen

Where Are They Now: Marke Liimatainen

Hi YPA family! I was part of the YPA summer mentoring program in 2014 and lots has happened since our TEAM LA was selected as the second best team and I was selected as the best mentee. Our team was amazing; we worked nicely together and most of us are still keeping in touch.

“Best thing about sewing is that I get to use different fabrics and colorful stitches”. –Gabriel, 6y, sewing with his twin brother Adrian. Image © Marke Liimatainen, from her series, “Rulebreakers”

For our mentoring project, our theme was “Boundaries” and we documented young women who were staying in a free rehab center. It was such an eye opening experience for all of us. In fact, three of us went on to help them with their fundraiser event last year!

“I love riding my dirt bike in the rain and go through muddy puddles.” –Grace, 11y. Image © Marke Liimatainen, from her series, “Rulebreakers”

Our mentors, Laura Doss and Barry Schwartz were amazing. They were always there for us and even after the mentoring program was over, we have been able to ask them any questions at all. What’s more, after the mentoring program I was hired by Laura, working as her assistant until I returned  to Europe. I learned so much while working for her–how to run a successful photo business, how to deal with clients, how to write professional e-mails and how to work on set. None of this would have happened without YPA.

“It upsets me that people don’t see aviation as something that girls can do. It gives me motivation to work even harder, so I can be just as good of a pilot as the boys.” –Carly, 15y. Image © Marke Liimatainen, from her series, “Rulebreakers”

Since returning to Europe, I have traveled a bit, worked both in Finland and in Italy, and I recently finished a personal project, “Rulebreakers”. I photographed kids in Finland, Italy and in the US, whose hobbies and interests are stereo-typically considered as “boys” or “girls” things. But as the title of the series reveals, I focused on the kids who don’t care about these stereotypes and aren’t afraid to break them. I feel as though this is such an important topic and I’m so pleased to show what these amazing kids are able to do. The project was just launched and has already gained interest and press coverage in Finland.

“I love Spiderman because he is a spider that saves the world… and I love his Spiderwebs!” –Sophia, 6y. Image © Marke Liimatainen, from her series, “Rulebreakers”

I truly feel that YPA’s summer mentoring program changed everything for me. It opened my eyes to documentary photography, other teammates became good friends, and I know I can always call my mentors and ask for their advice–even two years after the program! Before I was selected to the program, I wasn’t sure where my photography was going. I didn’t know if I would be able to keep doing this and make a living. The summer mentoring program was a perfect way for me to gain more confidence and find my own photographic style. Thank you, YPA!

“Kids should just be themselves.” –Ethan, 8y, doing yoga with his brother Ian, 6y. Image © Marke Liimatainen, from her series, “Rulebreakers”

See more of Marke’s work, including additional images from “Rulebreakers”, on her website and connect on Instagram at moimarke.