Photographer Brice Portolano‘s project No Signal is all about documenting the lives of people who have chosen to live “off-the-grid.” People like the subject of his first photo essay in the project who lives 180 miles away from the nearest town, raising sled dogs in the northern Finnish wilderness.
The essay, titled “Arctic Love,” follows a young Finnish woman named Tinja who, after 6 years studying Biology in southern Finland, decided to leave the urban comforts of the city, move up north, and raise sled dogs.
Now her days consist of taking care of and training a pack of 85 husky sled dogs, starting her days in -35°F (-37°C) weather and spending days on end in darkness during the polar night with her partner, a former professional skiier named Alex.“Tinja’s husky farm is off the grid,” writes Portolano. “She cooks and heats with a wood stove, lights her home with candles, and has to break the ice off the river every morning to get her water with a bucket.”
When people talk about reconnecting with nature, Tinja’s sparse lifestyle might even be more extreme than what they had in mind. But it has its advantages, and it’s exactly what Tinja was looking for when she moved back north.
“I like being on my own with my dogs and horses,” she tells Portolano. “I think being alone is the most peaceful way of life there is.”
“I didn’t set up a dogsledding business for commercial reasons,” she continues. “It’s about my own love of nature and living out here in the wild […] nature provides all I need.”
It’s this intense, and intensely personal, connection with nature that Portolano captures in Arctic Love. Nighttime sled rides under the northern lights, “farm work” in unimaginably cold temperatures, and a life lived by candle-and fire-light: