Blueberry Picker to Ace
“Maine Schoolboy”. (Cover). The photographer’s desired composition of final print indicated with red outline.
“Maine Schoolboy”. (Cover). The photographer’s desired composition of final print indicated with red outline. This image of his nephew Bobby Lofman became the magazine cover.
LIFE March 2, 1948
“Maine Schoolboy” Kosti’s self-assigned essay portrayed the stops he made walking several miles home from school. He considered the autobiographical memoir one of his best works.
LIFE March 2, 1948
Self-portrait with Father, Uncle Mikko Lofman, and Cousin Neelo Lofman at the newly constructed homestead. 1928
Self-portrait with Father, Uncle Mikko Lofman, and Cousin Neelo Lofman at the newly constructed homestead.
“Life Visits New Harmony”
“Life Visits New Harmony”, Indiana, site “of two strange past utopias.” Kosti Ruohomaa was featured in the weekly Masthead “LIFE’s Pictures” with his portrait photo and a brief biography note.
LIFE September 17, 1945
Dodge Mountain farm and homestead complex
No doubt George Curtis of Owls Head is piloting his Piper Cub, as his friend Kosti photographs the Dodge Mountain farm and homestead complex. This view reveals the extensive undeveloped surroundings of the 240+ acre blueberry land and woodland on the upper east face of the mountain with Rockland Harbor in the distance.
A suite of six images of fog made on Dodge Mountain.
A suite of six images of fog made on Dodge Mountain. One pair focuses on the farmer, (Father) at dawn returning from the milking in dense fog. “Fog is beautiful – it is a mood which cannot be duplicated by any other variation of the elements. It is somber, grey and mournful. It is quiet and peaceful”.
Manuscript by Kosti Ruohomaa titled Fog. 1947
Selim Frederik Ruohomaa
Kosti shows his father, Selim Frederik Ruohomaa, posed at his barn entrance receiving the brunt of a bitter winter snow squall. One of many character portrayals of his father though the two never did see eye to eye on life’s goals.
Eastport, Maine, 1949
A young boy is framed by the early dawn’s approaching light as he delivers the morning paper in Eastport, Maine.
Eastport, Maine, 1949
Two men playing checkers in the midst of crowded country store shelves and walls
Kosti’s careful studio lighting in this general store interior photograph captures two men playing checkers in the midst of crowded country store shelves and walls.
Weston, Vermont, 1946
Studies of these curious Angora rabbits
Studies of these curious Angora rabbits at a farm in Van Nuys, CA. Kosti at first created little stories, a derivative of the Disney animation characters he witnessed from 1938-1943. However the photographs later distributed by Black Star noted the wartime use of their fur.
Native American Congregation parade with women in their finest costumes balancing their individually hand-formed and painted pottery.
Native American Congregation parade with women in their finest costumes balancing their individually hand-formed and painted pottery. This was one of Kosti’s earliest publishing successes while in California and a member of the PIX Agency. This photo appeared in newspapers across the country from the L.A. Times to the N.Y. Times.
Gallop, New Mexico, 1940.
Kosti at his drawing table in the new “Walt Disney Studios
At his drawing table in the new “Walt Disney Studios, Silly Symphony and Sound Cartoons” in Burbank, California. Note modern telephone carefully placed in the background and Moviola motion picture review camera in foreground.
At the easel “en plein air”, Kosti makes an oil painting
At the easel “en plein air”, Kosti makes an oil painting on canvas of the homestead on the mountain top.
Photograph by Sofi Ruohomaa, 1932.
Child’s Play In The Country – Rockland, Maine, 1950
One of a series: masterful lighting and direction of timing and activities takes the idea of child’s play in the country into a remarkable dramatic scene.
Rockland, Maine, 1950
Portrait of Mother at home on Dodge Mountain
Portrait of Mother at home on Dodge Mountain. Kosti fabricated a studio to make this formal portrait of his mother. It was a period when he began to use color seriously.
Independent as a hog on ice
Kosti long had an interest in Old New England expressions and their origins. An inspiring source found in his personal library: A Hog on Ice and Other Curious Expressions by Charles Funk, suggests the New England expression (“…independent as a hog on ice…”) ties with the history of “curling”. A double page spread in Life’s “Pictures to the Editor” recognizes the broad human interest and entertainment value of this image.
LIFE March 3, 1950
Returning from eight months overseas, Kosti settled in the Dodge Mountain dwelling his father built when the family moved from Vermont. In the winter of 1949 he made photographs at night that are unique and surreal. He found the Park Street scene nearby in Rockland following a snow and ice storm. He later titled the image “Winter lace”. It became one of a number selected as the essay: “Winter Night Evokes Poets’ Praises.”
LIFE February 26, 1951 & Greatest Essays from LIFE Magazine, 1978
Self-portrait with relatives in Korpalahti Finland. – July 1948
Self-portrait with relatives in Korpalahti Finland.
Artist Andrew Wyeth sitting at his easel
Artist Andrew Wyeth sitting at his easel. Wyeth recalled the Kosti he knew in his foreword to the book Night Train at Wiscasset Station.
“Kosti had the insight and intelligence to see through his lens the essential character of Maine and its people. He has passed on to all of us a record of his special vision.”
Cushing, Maine, 1951
Kosti Ruohomaa at home on Dodge Mountain
Kosti Ruohomaa at home on Dodge Mountain photographed by TIME Inc. Seated at his desk with his portable Olivetti typewriter, he is surrounded by furnishings of contemporary Scandinavian décor design and his personal art collection. His major belongings were his library of literature and poetry titles and classical and jazz music recordings.
Rockland, Maine, 1950
Maurice Stanley Powell
Maurice Stanley Powell, longtime family friend, farm hand and landowner was photographed often over the years. Kosti describes Powell as being a man of stories and witticisms.
Rockland, ME, Circa 1950
Maine’s low bush blueberries
Maine’s low bush blueberries are raked, not picked and usually harvested near the end of July. Blueberries were taken to the steamship pier in Rockland, to go to Boston and New York for canning. After the war trucks took over and frozen berries appeared in markets.
Rockland, ME, 1942
Sofi’s (Mother) poppy garden
Sofi’s (Mother) poppy garden in foreground; Selim’s (Father) barn as back drop saturated in heavy atmosphere becomes a poetic statement as a color image.
Chevrolet’s Friends Magazine, 1959
Pilot and sculptor George Curtis
Pilot and sculptor George Curtis welds one of his pieces made from castings of fish exhibited at Knoedlers Art Gallery in New York. Kosti alerted LIFE magazine editors about this experimental color series taken as late as 1960 or early 1961.
Howard Chapnick of Black Star
Howard Chapnick started with Black Star after WWII as an office boy. He became President of the company and a mentor to Kosti. Communications between Howard and Kosti reveal the caring and respectful professional relationship between the two. Black Star founders Ernst Mayer and Kurt Kornfeld equally oversaw the career of their Finnish-American photojournalist.
Chapnick wrote in an introductory letter to the people of Finland in 1994: “Of the hundreds of photographers represented by Black Star, I consider Kosti to have been one of the great photographic artists of this century. His legacy is a body of work that recorded the special quality of life that could only be found in his beloved Maine.”
From the Family of Man exhibition at MOMA in 1955
Edward Steichen selected this image for his famed Family of Man exhibition at MOMA in 1955, placing it in the section of “Enduring Love.” The caption read: “Edward Rogers Castner, who ran a general store in Damariscotta for sixty years, gives his wife Lillian a fine ride. Both husband and wife are eighty and have been married sixty years.”
Portland, ME, 1947