In the late '60s and early '70s, an unusual amount of UFO sightings were reported by citizens of the small town of Pudasjärvi, Finland. Even though Finnish photographer Maria Lax wasn’t around to experience them firsthand, a family connection to the phenomenon inspired her to make it the subject of her latest project.
The idea was first planted after she came across a copy of Pudasjärven Ufot during a visit to her parents’ home. The book is a collection of first-person accounts of UFO sightings compiled by her grandfather, Soini Lax, when he was working as a journalist in the '70s. Fascinated by the contents of the book, Lax took it upon herself to reach out to some of the people her grandfather had interviewed decades earlier.
She's since spoken with a dozen people, many of whom shared stories of being followed in the deserted woods by mysterious, bright lights. “The area is surrounded by a huge wilderness so you can imagine how eerie something like that is,” Lax told WIRED. “The people often describe these lights as beautiful and changing in color, and completely silent.”
She’s now attempting to capture the mood of these experiences through a series of experimental photographs published on her Instagram page. The pictures paint scenes of strange lights in isolated areas, and witnesses peering out of windows illuminated by bright colors. Her process involves seeking out places reminiscent of the accounts she’s gathered and using available light from sources like passing cars and long exposures to create the eerie effects.
The project is meant to work as a companion to her short film Lights, which will explore similar themes and visuals. For more of her stunningly creepy photography, check out Maria Lax on Instagram.