Finns of the Bay Area
Finlandia Foundation San Francisco Bay Area Chapter introduces you to local Finnish people representing different arts, passions and interests.
Apocalyptica/Photo by Miikka Skaffari

Miikka Skaffari

Tech guy by day, photographer by night
By Katja Kotala
As for many other Finns, it was his job at Nokia that originally brought Miikka Skaffari to Silicon Valley almost 13 years ago. He was with Nokia 16 years, but here in California Miikka's career started to be mostly in the gaming industry; at Nokia with their N-Gage services and later on at Kabam, one of the leaders in developing console games for mobile devices. Now Miikka has settled at Electronic Arts (EA) in Redwood Shores, one of the biggest gaming companies in the world.

Originally from Imatra, Finland, Miikka has found a home in San Francisco with his Singaporean actor/writer/director wife. Working in tech by day, and in his free time as a professional photographer, he gets the best parts of living in the Bay Area.

Miikka shoots mostly live music and other events, such as red carpet or company events, but he does also take head shots and portraits on location. Finnish companies make a big part of the clientele and around 40% of the event photos he sells through Getty Images Stock Photo Agency.
Miikka Skaffari
Miikka Skaffari
Photographing as a pro
Bay Area is known as the cradle for trash metal scene since the 80’s and 90’s, serving as a home for bands like Metallica, Exodus, Testament and Death Angel. Even Green day got their early start here, at a club called 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley. This suits well this hard rock photographer who has been a fan of the genre since a teenager.

Thanks to his profession, Miikka finds himself at all kinds of concerts. Recently he got a chance to take photos of a Japanese Wagakkiband at the Fillmore. The group combines rock and traditional performing arts, something Miikka never thought he would attend. That is also a part of the fascination of being a professional photographer, you end up seeing and hearing performances that you wouldn’t otherwise seek out. “It gives you energy when you end up seeing a band that is so completely different from what you think you would like, but which ends up being a great experience” Miikka says.

Miikka does generally two photographing gigs a week, and already this year he has seen over 60 concerts. In order to make the work worthwhile, a photographer can’t choose the concerts he attends from a fan perspective or by thinking which bands would serve visually as good objects. Often it comes down to which images sell; which artists are interesting for the public.

Taking great photos can sometimes be challenging, but never impossible. “It’s all about the light. The more there is light, the more you get good photos. And you can’t affect that yourself, it is up to the venue and the band. If it’s a big venue with good lights, I’ll have 50-60 good photos after the gig, but sometimes there are gigs where you only get two,” Miikka explains. Many popular artists welcome professionally shot photos, because those stand out from the pictures taken with mobile phones by fans. Luckily SF Bay Area is a popular destination for interesting bands and there are multiple great venues in the region.
Kerry King_Skaffari
Kerry King of Slayer/Photo by Miikka Skaffari
Finnish vibes in the Bay Area
Miikka has had the chance to shoot big names like Metallica, AC/DC and Slayer, but we have had some Finnish representation in the Bay Area too. Only this year Miikka has had the chance to photograph Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Apocalyptica and Michael Monroe. These are fun events, since they attract a wider Finnish community. “There are many Finns here that you wouldn’t meet in Finland, but here it is easier to get to know one another.”

Miikka is also a musician himself. With some friends, most of them from Finland, they have a band called The Horsmas. The group has played Irwin Goodman songs in the past for the enjoyment of all friends of Finnish music. If we have any luck, we would love to see them at some point next year as a part of the Suomi Finland 100 festivities.

See Miikka's incredible work as well as his contact info at his website www.skaffari.fi and  Facebook
Mårten Mickos/Photo by Miikka Skaffari
Nightwish, Amon Amarth/Photos by Miikka Skaffari
Nightwish_SkaffariAmon Amath_Skaffari