Born 25th March. 1944 in Helsinki Finland (to an Industrialist family)
First career as a Jazz Musican.High points of Musican career were Jazz band Competition win for Jukka Vatanen quintet and soloist in Radio dance orchestra concert( The UMO of its time in 60`s) also playing with Otto Donner/ Christian Schwindt band. Big break from that occured in Helsinki 1961 Concert of tenor saxophonist John Coltrane.
Watanen had his fathers camera with him and took the first photographs ever in his life of his saxophone hero.
These shots turned out so fine that watanen entered several photo competition with them, and the success made him think of photography as a career. After school`s ending he was asked to be a photographets asisstant to “Finnseven Co-operative”
where some of the most notable Finnish photographers were doing reportage , fashion andf industrial work. After learning the tools of the trade, Watanen went to his own. Started right there where his mentors were working: leading picture magazines and fashion houses.
This brought Watanen around Europe, Polar Circle, Lebanon etc. There was a break in the career because a stint in Army.Year 1967. There Watanen made a photo reportage that was instrumental for him as a reportage photographer, but also contributed to a jail sentence : he was expelled from jail after one day, as it was found out that the court decision was made ineffective.
The period before the army is labelled in retrospective plans as “EARLY YEARS” with work in fashion, music, artist`s portraits, the bottom line in all future non commercial work by Watanen
After army Watanen set up a studio targeted to fashion, advertising and corporate work. There he worked for major Finnish clients on these fields, The job trips took him around the world,mainly to the fashion centres: Paris, Milan and New York fashion weeks . Watanen was early in connecting himself with( French) Lòfficiell and Harper`s Bazaar magazines and japanese design magazines showing scandinavian design. He was one of the first to have an Internet website where he promoted his somewhat unorthodox style
During this period ( 80`s) he was one of the choosen few Finnish photographers to work for “Export oriented” publications such as PRIMA, FOCUS , Look At Finland magazines . Watanen was one of the first photographers and the only one from Finland to be represented by one of the giants in Stock photography market TIB ( The Image Bank) of New York and KeyPhotos of Japan. During the latter part of this period called “MEDIA YEARS” he turned to special design oriented photography work to Kalevala Koru, Aarikka, fashion houses VUOKKO, Marimekko, Jukka Rintala etc. Watanen also recieved exposure in Specialist magazines such as international Hasselblad magazine, Popular Photography, Finnish Kameralehti etc.
Watanen has been a lecturer in TAIK ( Now Aalto University) about professional photography in three different occasions.
His work is published as a on portofolio in Merja Salo`s Essay/ Bible about finnish fashion photographers “Muodin ikuistajat” and Jukka Rintala`s fashion Book. Merja Salo commented in her book that ” It is very uncommon that a fashion photographers career has lasted more than a decade, Jukka Watanen has important work in this book from four decades, starting in 1969 and last image is from 2002″ Merja Salo also noted in her letter to the commitee for Artist pension:
“The history of light music, fashion and design in Finland cannnot be written without Jukka Watanen`s images”
With “Golden years of fashion and photography” ( end of the 1990`s) drawing to an end in Finland. Watanen in early 2000 decided to take down his studio operations and turn to his other interests, designing and promoting of remote piloted racing vechicles and playing jazz music again. Watanen was also very active as “artist photographer” for many key figures in Finnish Music, fashion and design world.
This period is called “FINAL YEARS” it includes turning to Black & White photography, special portofolios and Experimental color work
Also several private photo exhibitions are held during this period (2006-2008-2010)
The bottom line of this period is “Non Commercial”. Watanen has refused of all work by comission. The portraits for fellow musicans for sleeve covers etc. are “gifts” To be able to do this a life long Artist`s Pension by the Finnish state, ( 2011) has been a tremendous help ! Watanen was also awarded a grant by Patricia Seppälä`s Foundation to produce a book about his life as a photographer. This will most likely to be linked with his retrospective that is in the final stages of completion and will be published as a multimedia work combining original images from his career as well as intveviews with key people in his career as well as own rememberings, combining video images and music that reflects his artist personality.
Watanen is now 73 years old (2016), and keeps on working on his own ( non-commercial) art projects/ portofolios and eventually the retrospective. .He has finished his autobiography as a photographer, as well as a story of his family and youth to the point he chose PHOTOGRAPHY to be his career.
He has also returned to his early interest: Racing Model Cars. He leads again a R/C racing team and now again conquered with his team the cnampionships of On-Road Nitro cars in 2014 and 2016.with “Star driveer” Henry Fredriksson as pilot. He has two national records in Tether cars: 10cc class 312km/h and 5cc class 265km/h
A radio interview about Jukka Watanen can be heard in YLE/ARENA: http://areena.yle.fi/radio/1704941