Pentti Nikula with his pole breaking into three parts during a pole vaulting competition at Otahalli, Espoo, in 1961 (cropped image), Helge Heinonen / JOKA / Finnish Heritage Agency

The press photograph collection of Helge Heinonen was donated to the Journalistic Picture Archive JOKA


The master photographer Helge ‘Hele’ Heinonen (1922–2012) was known to Finns from the weekly magazine Apu, where he worked as a photographer in the 1960s–1980s.

Heinonen, who won prizes in many photography competitions, left a collection of 300,000 press photographs. His heirs donated the sizable press photograph collection to the Journalistic Picture Archive JOKA of the Picture Collections of the Finnish Heritage Agency.

Helge Heinonen documented life in Finland with his camera from the 1950s until 1984, when he was granted an artist pension. As a photographer at Apu, Heinonen travelled all across Finland. His press photographs tell the stories of ordinary Finns. Heinonen and his camera were also present at big news events. Among other things, he captured on film the atmosphere during the tragedy in Pihtipudas in March 1969 after eight bullets had ended the lives of four police officers.
The collection of 300,000 press photographs also includes a whole array of celebrities featured in the family magazine Apu, ranging from authors to pop singers. Heinonen took a picture of President Kekkonen toasting the birthday of author Ilmari Kianto, with 95-year-old Kianto on his sickbed. The authors Väinö Linna, F. E. Sillanpää and Pentti Saarikoski are also among Heinonen’s subjects. Sports in particular were a subject close to his heart. The jackpot is the photograph of Pentti Nikula with his pole breaking into three parts during a pole vaulting competition at Otahalli, Espoo, in 1961. The photograph won the shared first prize in the annual ‘Vuoden lehtikuva’ photojournalism competition.

The career of Helge ‘Hele’ Heinonen progressed from the post of a process engraver at a printing house to a photography club member, who grew into a self-taught, valued professional in the field of press photography. Even when he was still working as a process engraver for the newspaper Keskisuomalainen in the 1950s, Heinonen took photographs for newspapers and magazines in Helsinki, such as the Urheilun Kuva-aitta. From 1957 to 1963, he was a photographer for the magazine Kuluttaja. He worked for Apu magazine for the following 21 years.

The press photographer Helge Heinonen was an active photography club member throughout his life. He participated in several exhibitions and won prizes or placed in many Finnish and foreign photography exhibitions.

The Journalistic Picture Archive JOKA was established in connection with the Picture Collections of the Finnish Heritage Agency in 2014. JOKA preserves and publishes Finnish press photography collections. The picture archive ensures the preservation of the picture collections of important press photographers, newspapers and magazines together with other museums and archives, and it strengthens the position of press photographs as a part of cultural heritage. The JOKA collections already include more than 7 million press photographs.

You can browse a Helge Heinonen sample collection at the following address: