styling: nlux

PHOTOS: Viola Minerva and participants

Text: marika luukkanen


PLACE: hahkiala manor


NLUX Studio's first photography workshop was full of stunning settings, mansion romance and stylish details.

"Nature, food and beautiful surroundings are the biggest sources of inspiration for me, and I couldn't think of a better place for a great August workshop than Hahkiala Manor! I hope you will be inspired and join us to learn the secrets of lifestyle photography and spend a great day with us!"

Viola Minerva Virtamo


The soft light of August led us to stylized food photography both indoors and outdoors, with game, fish and seasonal vegetables playing the leading roles.

In the rose garden we were able to photograph an afternoon tea and a sumptuous selection of delicacies, and at the end of the day a whisky bar in the back of the jeep, hunting dogs, our gorgeous models and a lovely dinner caterer.

The day was full of wonderful lifestyle and food events, good local food, inspiring photography, relaxed togetherness and lots of new discoveries.

Magic rays

When you turn the last bend before Hahkiala Manor, you enter another world. A dreamy oak moon escorts your gaze to the gently rising horizon. At the top, the manor house looks out towards the sharply pointed Hauho church on one side, and towards the generous fields and the sinewy lake on the other. 

The landscape outlines our day, the Creative Lifetyle Photography Workshop led by Viola Minerva. Those contours are the strands of golden August light.

Towards inspiration

A sigh of relief amidst all the beauty. Entering Hahkiala Manor, stepping into the spacious courtyard and looking at the building. You don't have to be an expert on architecture to appreciate the exterior of a pale yellow-washed house. Its sturdy character manages to be both dignified and fresh. The design and character of the building fit into its surroundings, exuding the stories and happiness of generations. This time, the pleasure of a visit is shared by this group of ten photographers who enter the doors of Hahkiala to be inspired by this wonderful world.

To be inspired and to develop their creative thinking, photographers will sit down for Viola's lecture. The class lasts an hour and a half, everything feels like fifteen minutes. The lecture room is filled with a lovely summer breeze, natural light filtering through thin curtains and oak trees rustling in the breeze. It's easy to enjoy Viola's determined, inspiring presentation, full of examples. We are learning so that the ground we are growing on is more solid, and the process of reaching for the new more straightforward. We learn so that we can break what we have learned. 

Now it's time to photograph the food.

Images full of brilliance

In the hall next to the lecture room, a table has been set up in abundance. Its rich setting instantly attracts photographers to grab their cameras and capture the specialness of this August day. Viola's advice on colour theory, composition and angles more or less comes to mind as inspiration takes over. Harvest season vegetables, root vegetables, mushrooms and berries are accompanied by pheasant, rustic tableware and lush floral arrangements. No matter what the angle, everything looks lovely. 

For photographers to have something so amazing to capture, magic must have happened. NLUX's Marika and Hanna have done their best to organise the day, as the day is full of more and more brilliant settings and subjects to shoot. Anne, the hostess of the manor, ties the look together with meaning, now we are in a place of cultural and historical significance enjoying the bounty of this land of ours. While we are talking about photographs, we are also conveying meanings.

"For me, the most important thing in photos is the feeling," says one talented photographer. The photos are telling the story of people and places. They exude the atmosphere that is inside them. When a picture manages to capture something inside, it's really touching. 

"For me, it's all about the light," continues another photographer. He wouldn't even bother photographing a UFO if it fell out of the sky in too bright a day. So during the day, Hanna dubbed herself a cloud hunter, and everyone rushed outdoors with cameras in hand only after the sun had gone down. 

Encounters in the garden

The day is half over and it's time to freshen up. The sweet, refreshing taste of rhubarb and the pike steak with its accompaniments make you close your eyes and concentrate on every mouthful. It's not every day you get a fresh, healthy and genuinely tasty dish like this. Everything is produced, picked, fished or hunted in or near our own land. The dishes squeak and the chatter dies down as you savour the bounty.


One by one, the photographers share their stories, a piece of why they are here and a piece of why they are photographing. The stories are a match for the day, everything seems to be inspiring today. Is the air here filled with some of the magic spirit of the estate?

Every photographer has his or her own reason for taking a photo. Some fell in love with photography as soon as they picked up the camera: "like a drug!", others gave their passion time to smoulder and ignite a little later: "I wish I had started properly earlier". Everyone takes their own approach to photography, from a new born photographer from Oulu to a light capturer from Hanko. And it seems almost everything in between. 


None of them, apart from Viola, are food photographers, but they all talk about how they have found new ideas for their own work by experimenting with still lifes and doing a scene with food settings. We also talked about our own strengths and weaknesses, about life in general. 

It was also noted that there are a wide range of Renaissance people, and at least a few recognised themselves as masters of several disciplines. Hokey, but still. 

We get to know each other, enjoy the delicacies and become sensitised. We get ideas and inspiration from each other's stories. Nothing could feel better than this moment and its human connection right now.  


A table still sits in the middle of the summer garden. Not just any table, but an aesthete's dream with its red-tinted flowers, place settings and delicious cakes. The sprawling blooms and the Brita that screams deliciousness will fill your retinas. An excellent dessert on the right food.

Long day evening

We say, as if from a collective mind, with one voice: "The day has seemed short, but it has been full of a lot. In addition to the food, we have had models in the milieu, in as real fireplaces as possible with hunting dogs, as befits the estate's grounds. 


They are great at throwing themselves into situations, angles and ideas. They're walking around in a field of hay, and in such style that Vogue might be calling soon.

Downstairs, in front of the lodge, there is still a table decorated with candles and seasonal flowers, where dinner will be served later. Each set has been a unique experience, created with different tones and moods, and the photographers have been able to add much-needed variation to their portfolios. 


We gratefully sit down to enjoy fresh savoury pies, salads and service. I silently give thanks in my mind every time someone brings something in front of me, and I don't have to carry the plates myself. We've been wonderfully looked after all day, and I still don't feel like I've been a bother. 

The arrangements did not end there either. Before the sun sets, a vintage jeep is brought in, the back of which opens up into a gentlemanly stage from which to enjoy a whisky on a night of hunting. The hostess's dogs jump into the car, as if to underline the authentic atmosphere. They assume their roles and sit slouched, performing for a crowd of ten photographers. As the last golden rays of the evening sun fall on the car, it's the perfect time to take the last few shots.


We sit in the warmth of the sauna and wonder what we have been doing and seeing. The mood is all right and there's a peaceful feeling inside. I could never have imagined that our country would have such a magnificent setting, and that we would be able to immerse ourselves in its world through this kind of filming. As we lounged in the bubble on that August evening, it was as if the stuffing in the porcelain was just one thing among others. Not only did we get a series of mind-blowing images, but we also shared a moment together in a special place outside of our everyday lives. Now that's luxury.

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