Katja Tähjä
(b. 1976, Raahe)
Currently based: Helsinki

Katja Tähjä on helsinkiläinen valokuvaaja, jonka intohimo on ihmiset ja heidän tarinansa. Hänen pitkäaikaisimmat projektinsa kertovat paperittomista ja karkotetuista ihmisistä. Monen vuoden ajan Tähjä kuvasi naisia, miehiä ja lapsia, jotka elävät Euroopan varjoissa, ja heitä, jotka EU-maat häätivät alueiltaan.

Katja Tähjä ja toimittaja Kaisa Viitanen tutustuivat siirtolaisiin ja heidän perheisiinsä seitsemässä Euroopan maassa. Siitä syntyi kirja Paperittomat (HS Kirjat, 2010). Paperittomien jälkeen Tähjä lähti tutkimaan, mitä tapahtuu niille ulkomaalaisille, jotka EU:n jäsenmaat häätävät alueiltaan? Katja Tähjä ja toimittaja Kaisa Viitanen työryhmineen tutustuivat Euroopasta häädettyihin ihmisiin, josta syntyi Karkotetut-kirja (2016).

Tähjä on palkittu työryhmän kanssa monia kertoja. (Muun muassa Suomi-palkinto 2012, Vuoden freelancer (2016), Vuoden parhaan visuaalisen journalismin palkinto (2016), Vuoden huiput, 2010).   



Katja Tähjä is a Helsinki-based photographer with a passion for people and their stories. 

Her most important work to date are two book projects on migrants living in Europe without residence permits, and immigrants being deported from Europe. Over the course of many years, she has photographed children, women and men in many countries, to help raise public awareness about these people living in the shadows of Europe and about those who have been expelled from the EU territory.

Photographer Katja Tähjä and journalist Kaisa Viitanen work as a team based in Helsinki and have gotten to know migrants and families living in hiding in seven European countries.  The book Undocumented Lives was published in 2010. After that, Tähjä and Viitanen along with their work team, began to meet with people deported from European countries. The Deported, is their story and the book was published 2016.

Tähjä has been awarded multiple times as part of a team. Some of the awards include the Finland Prize (2012), The 2016 Freelancer Award, The Year’s Best Visual Journalism Award (2016) and The Year’s Best, 2010.

Professor Juha Suoranta hid an expulsion ordered Afghan boy at his grandfather’s empty apartment in Tampere.

Lebanese Giuliano Haddad, who was a prisoner of war in Syria, applied  for asylum in Sweden in 2004 and stayed in the country without a residence permit after the negative decision.

”If Merdo hadn’t taken me to his place, I could have ended up on the streets. In Athens many refugee women are forced to sell themselves. At least now I know who is raping me.”

Undocumented migrants squatted at a Béguinange church in Brussels in 2009. The Squat lasted for half a year the last 74 days of which, all the adults held a hunger strike.


”In difficult moments, I say to myself that at least you have walked through a desert in Africa. There were many who didn’t survive it because of dehydration and weakness. I survived it, so I’ll get anywhere.” Chinedu Luke

Danial, the husband of Karina Mezhydov and father of her two children, was deported from Austria to Russia. He was imprisoned immediately. The family hasn’t seen him after that.

Chailai Leekpai works in a massage place in Helsinki. She goes voluntarily to Italy every third month. She has a residence permit in Italy.

Lana Rafik, her husband Hunar Mohammad and their four children were deported violently from Sweden to Iraq.  ” The whole family was having a dinner at home when the police raided. The door flew to the floor and some 30 police rushed into our living room.”

Mihram was born in Sweden and was half-year old when he and his family were deported to Iraq. In the airplane he was kept separate from his parents. When the mother finally got the baby in her arms in Baghdad, he had poo up to the armpits.

Every day Ramin and Meraj’s father walks down the streets in Istanbul looking for a smuggler to take the family from Turkey to Europe.