What happens to an abandoned house after the human tenants remain long gone?
Naturally, the animals start moving in. Kai Fagerstrom is a decorated photographer from Finland known for his unique wildlife imagery.
One of Kai’s most intriguing sets of photos has to be from his series, The House in the Woods.
For years Kai wandered through a number of abandoned cottages located in the woods of Finland.
Here he spent hours upon hours with camera close in hand.
What intrigued the photographer were the animals that had taken the houses over as their own.
Many years ago, after a fire killed the owner of the houses, all of the tenants moved out. Since then, many animals have turned the place into their own home. Kai is fascinated by how nature claims back the spaces humans rob it of.
When we build houses we take away animal homes and harm the environment.
As soon as humans leave, nature adapts, finding ways to move right back in.
While this project was exactly the type of photography Kai loves, he usually has a more planned photo shoot in mind.
In order to capture these photos he had to be extremely patient and wait for the great photos to find him.
Like the skunk peering out of the floorboards, you can only imagine how many hours Kai had to wait to capture that gem of a photo!
Patience is an understatement. After all, it took Kai 4 long years to finally capture a photo of the skittish badger family living in a tunnel underneath the fireplace.
For hours Kai remained outside on a ladder, his camera aimed into position, and when the nocturnal weasels did finally come out, Kai was ready to press the camera with his remote control.
Sometimes in hopes of attracting animals he would put out some bate, a handful of nuts or something, and then hide around a corner and wait for any takers.
This could take all night sometimes, but eventually the perfect little mouse would come scampering along, offering up a great photo that made it all worthwhile.
Squirrels hanging from doors as if they are opening them, it’s different than squirrels climbing on trees.
Which is part of the allure to these photos, the house truly belongs to the animals now although few decorators would agree with what they’ve done to the place.
At one point during the years he spent photographing the abandoned houses, a pygmy owl quickly came flying in through a cracked window, startling Kai.
When Kai jumped and turned around, the owl stomped his foot, reminding Kai that this was his home now.
The windows have been cracked open, the front doors left ajar, the animals are getting in and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Yet some of the animals have a slight fear in their eye, as if Kai’s presence represents their biggest fear: the humans coming to take back the homes these animals have grown to love as their own.
Year after year Kai has won awards for his Finnish Wildlife photography but nothing quite compares to his abandoned house photo shoot, The House in the Woods.
Simply because the animals are in such a unique element, not only is the abandoned house a compelling scene, but the cute furry animals living inside make it all that much better.
What began as a few snapshots turned into a long and elaborate project, once Kai started taking photos at this location, he couldn’t stop. In fact, the photos turned out so breathtaking that they are featured in a full-length book published in English, German and French.