Kimmo Ohtonen is a Finnish journalist, writer, nature photographer and tv-personality. His career started in the UK in 2005 working for BBC and ITV on programmes centered around social topics and current affairs such as Tonight with Trevor McDonald. Ultimately Kimmo found himself missing the beautiful nature, and the peace and quiet of Finland. In the autumn of 2009 following a job offer from Yle, The Finnish Broadcasting Company, Kimmo decided to return back home.
Most Finnish people know him from being the face of many a nature programme broadcast on Yle. He is also known for throwing himself into a physically straining challenge or two, in the name of charity.
In the autumn of 2012 Kimmo swam over 140 kilometres across the low-temperature waters of Lake Saimaa. The swim managed to raise nearly 300 000 euros for Saimaa Ringed Seal, which are among the most endangered seals in the world. This charitable swim won Kimmo the Bafta equivalent Kultainen Venla award for TV-moment of the year.
Kimmo's actions, words, photography and work in general are driven by a personal desire to help those in need. Nature conservation, human-nature relationship, as well as human rights are the driving force behind everything he does.
In November 2015, as part of a Red Nose Day fund-raising effort, Kimmo cycled 850 kilometres from the Arctic Circle to the Red Nose Day studio within five days. This challenging bike journey resulted in raising nearly 75 000 euros for children in need.
Children's rights are close to Kimmo's heart. His debut book Karhu Voimaeläin was published in February 2016, and for the first time ever Kimmo publicly opened up about his childhood and teenage years shadowed by domestic violence. In the book Kimmo reflects his own life as well as human-nature relationship through exploring the life of brown bears. His beautifully honest prose runs along the pages hand in hand with his heartfelt nature photography. The book received nominations for both Tieto-Finlandia (Man Booker prize for non-fiction) and Nature Book of the Year, as well as proceeding to win the Lukija-Finlandia prize chosen by the Finnish public.
With Kimmo's images the story always comes first. When he is in the nature with his camera, it's the story and the emotion captured that matter. The images need to be honest and technically masterful potrayals of nature with an underlying conservation message, yet be beautiful enough to be hung on your wall.
A six-part documentary series Saving the Nordic Nature (Katoava Pohjola), created and presented by Kimmo, was aired on Yle TV1 at the end of 2016. This international co-production was also broadcast in France, Germany and Denmark. The series followed Kimmo across the nordic nature, from Greenland to Iceland continuing to Svalbard and all the way to Finnish Lapland. The series shined a light to issues such as global warming and its effects on the Polar regions and their inhabitants.
As a member of WWF Finland's board Kimmo gets to take active part in nature conservation. He finds that thanks to his role he gets a wider understanding of the field of nature conservation and the opportunities that may rise from cross-organisational cooperation. Kimmo recognises the work WWF does is highly important in regards to the future of Finnish nature as well as the whole planet.
Both Kimmo's professional and personal life is centered around nature. His spare time is exceedingly spent with his wife Laura and their sausage dog Alma in the nature near their current hometown of Helsinki or deep in the wilderness of Finland.