FocusOn 1.49: Meri Kukkavaara aka @ektara on Instagram


Instagram is a great creative field for talented people. helps you to discover, sometimes unkown, surprising users. People addicted to Instagram, telling about their lives, revealing their passions and sharing Instagram tips.


ektara profile pic instagramToday we feature @Ektara aka Meri Kukkavaara from Finland. We met Meri during our last First Instagramers Congress in Torrevieja last year. She made the trip from Helsinki to Spain just to meet her Igers friends and community. I thought it was really a great thing! I started to follow her then and discover an interesting stream and a great person. Today we feature her at Instagramers!


Here name is Meri Kukkavaara…

But everybody knows her as @ektara (See her feed here)
Meet the person behind this great northern stream.

Meri is Finnish and she is working in a publishing company with wine publications. Her education is on the visual field, though, and most of her life she has worked with things visual; as a painter, interior designer, art therapist – they have all brought her to who she is today.

“Photography today is a way for me to see, and needless to say I guess, mobile photography has been revolutionary for me. I am endlessly intrigued by people and the interaction they have with the world around them. I recently started a collaboration project in capturing the life of the city, the people of it, more on that later in this interview”.


She is not purely a reportage photographer. She loves to edit her photos. She guesses her painter’s eye will always come through in that! And she learn as she goes along. In the time she has been on Instagram, She has slowly found who she is as a photographer, “and I’m still on my way” she says!

A clairvoyant once told her that her assignment in this life was to create beauty. She thought “phew, I think I can do that!”


Thanks very much Meri to anwer our question!  (You can follow her here)


You are: A seer. Someone who understands the world by looking. It’s my sense that I count on.


You would like to be: Can I say anything here, can I?  A great singer! With a deep soul voice.


3 items to take to a desert island: Good company, big knife, good wine.


Your most bizarre life experience: Maybe spending a New Year’s Eve trapped in an elevator, far away from home, with strangers, drinking champagne with them.


A super power would you like to have: Flying, definitely.


If you ruled the world: I would be stressed.


In ‘real’ life

Happy alone (with Instagram), in love, married or it’s complicated: I’m happy when I’m alone – I love to get in shooting mode and talk to nobody, lol – I’m married, and I’m in love. And it’s not complicated.


You love to: Explore. Get myself in strange (for me) places and situations. Go where the local life happens. I learn a lot of life and myself just connecting with the real world around me. I have yet to learn to put that more in my photos though! I’m getting braver with photographing people, and I’d like to get closer to capture emotions.


You can’t stand: Injustice. Seeing animals being treated cruelly. And, sometimes I think I can’t stand the darkness of our northern winters!! Give me some light!


A song that best describes you: Dancing Queen! Oh no, I didn’t just say that!! I’ll hear of this, I’m sure!!


Your hobbies: Well, photography takes a lot of my free time, but it also gives a lot. It takes me to places. Then I also love to dive into some strange projects, like learning the skills of djembe drumming, playing didgeridoo, or building a violin. I’ve done these 😉


A trip you dream of: A trip of indefinite return. Going far and slowly. With good company.


A quote: Cease the moment.


A wish: This is surprisingly hard for me. I don’t think I wish so much. I take life as it is, and I really enjoy it.


Some-one you admire: People with great intelligence, that they know also how to use socially.


About you in one phrase: The sea. Connection to it is of huge importance to me.


Your life on Instagram

Your Instagram birthday: May 13th 2011


iPhone, Android, DSLR: iPhone


How did Instagram change your life: I found a big piece of myself. I found creativity in me, and really dove head first into photography, which had only played a minor role in my life before. And I connected with people like never before. Instagram just works for me as a forum.


Instagram for professional or personal use: For me, only personal use. But I can understand that this can be an interesting and powerful tool for companies.


Define your style in one word: Streetphotography


Daily time spent on Instagram: Varies. In the winter things slow down for me, when the light is so scarce… Then it can me just minutes. But I’d say normally from 30 minutes to, well, more. A lot more.


Favorite hashtag: #streetphoto_bw


A filter: Most of the time no filter, but sometimes I go for Sierra or Rise. I like the way they illuminate the image.


An App: Snapseed and Noir. I could do everything with them.


A gadget: No gadgets.


Pictures that make you laugh on Instagram: Definitely pictures with clever titles. Words that give more to the image, contradict them maybe. I often laugh at @tenebrogg’s posts, at the humour he manages to put in them with just a few words.


Pictures that must be forbidden on Instagram: I haven’t really come across any… But I would say, in addition to the obvious violence, porn etc., also insulting images, photos that aim to show people in bad light, in embarrassing situations. When I photograph strangers on the streets I think of the reasons why they catch my eye. I’d never post something to make someone look ridiculous.


An improvement for Instagram: Talking with my friend @_kilsey on our last photowalk, we decided that Instagram should have a way to separately browse comments, new followers, and likes under “News”. We come up with improvements on each walk, lol.


Life without Instagram would be: A lot less interesting.


An Instagram user we can’t miss: Millo @mifjuz. I saw his sea images and was speechless. They just touch something very deep inside me. Slowly I got to know Millo, he became my first true friend on IG. In addition to being such an incredible and sensitive artist with his images, he is a great and genuine person.


Anything else? I have been fortunate to meet in person many of the great instagramers who I already know through their beautiful work, and lately I have started a collaboration working on city scenes around the world. It started just a while ago when Thomas @thomas_k and I exchanged photographs on the theme City Dialogues. We are passionate about street photography, capturing the life happening in city surroundings, and the endless dialogue between the city and its inhabitants. I wish this project will flourish in the near future. Hey, there’s my wish! Lol.


Describe your favorite pic: It is a pic that I took last summer in St. Petersburg. What I love about it is that is has 1. a great background, that sets the scene 2. people in movement (and in uniforms!) 3. a surprise connection, an eye contact that I wasn’t expecting, but which in the end makes the whole picture! (see first picture here below)


Techniques: Shot with native camera, like I always do, then edited with Snapseed – contrast, ambience, white balance, and drama. I would edit it a bit differently now. But that’s actually good, it means I have learnt something!


Thank you very much Meri!!


Follow Meri Kukkavaara aka @ektara ( @IgersHelsinki team member)

Instagram  | See Meri’s favorite pictures below 




kuva ektara favorite pic instagram








ektara walking with thomas_k in Torrevieja


ektara woman smoking


Meri Ektara instagram Finland

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