My Inspiration for Collecting Memories

March 17, 2024

“I use my diaries as a safety valve.” – Peter Beard.

Peter Beard, the legendary artist, photographer, and adventurer, found inspiration in documenting his extraordinary life experiences through his diaries.

My encounter with Peter Beard dates back to the ’90s in Finland, where my friend, the famous Hollywood director Renny Harlin, invited Peter and his manager, Peter Tunney, to experience our nightless midsummer parties.

Despite surviving an elephant attack in Africa, Beard carried himself like a champion, his battle scars adding to his rugged charm. At sixty, he retained the allure of a forty-year-old, his curiosity akin to that of a child.

His stories ranged from encounters with royalty to adventures with movie stars and art icons. To me, Beard was the epitome of masculinity, the embodiment of every man’s aspiration and every woman’s desire.

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We formed an instant connection and embarked on helicopter rides across Finland, even setting up a pop-up tent sauna by pristine lakes.

Yet, beyond the glitz of celebrity tales, it was Beard’s passion for wildlife that truly captivated me. He’d forsaken a life of privilege as an heir to a railway tycoon in the USA for the untamed beauty of the African wilderness.

Beard’s diaries were his sanctuary, a refuge for his soul amidst life’s chaos. They weren’t just personal records; they were a testament to his commitment to conservation and environmental activism.

The lions, hippos, the African plains—I yearned to experience it all. When Beard invited me to visit his Hog Ranch in Nairobi, I did not hesitate a second to accept it.

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Our paths crossed again in the most serendipitous of ways at the airport in Johannesburg. Fate had orchestrated our reunion, placing us side by side on the flight to Nairobi.

As we toasted to adventure at thirty thousand feet, I knew my life was about to change.

Peter Beard captured picture of Iiro Seppanen relaxing with a wild hog.

Our stay at Hog Ranch was nothing short of transformative. Amidst Peter’s famed Pirelli pictures and semi-tamed hogs, I witnessed his artistic process firsthand.

He was more than just a photographer; he was a maestro, conducting the Masai as they adorned prints of his work with their art.

Beard and PT had planned a safari, but when I showed up, Beard gave me his seat on the private plane and wished me bon voyage to the wilderness.

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Those five days in the African bush were a revelation. No longer a bystander, I was an active participant in life’s grand adventure.

Inspired by Beard’s boundless creativity, I embarked on my own journey of self-expression through photo diaries. What began as a simple hobby evolved into something more meaningful. Each entry is a testament to the richness of human experience.

Two decades on, my photo diaries serve as a poignant reminder of friends, moments and passing times. They are more than just snapshots; they are fragments of a journey—a testament to the transformative power of adventure.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Peter Beard and Peter Tunney for igniting the flame of adventure within me and instilling in me a sense of wonder and possibility.

Their influence continues to shape my perception of the world, inspiring me to embrace life’s adventures with an open heart and a curious spirit.

Iiro

Inspired by Peter Beard, Iiro Seppanen has made dozens of photo albums of his adventures.

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