Konsta Punkka/Instagram
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ANIMAL ANTICS

Photos: A 21-year-old Instagrammer gets incredibly close to wild animals around the world

By Johnny Simon

Konsta Punkka, a globetrotting 21-year-old Finnish photographer who boasts more than 800,000 Instagram followers, has an unusual way with nature photography. Beyond his dreamy landscapes, he manages to capture up-close and intimate photos of wild animals with their guard down.

Many nature photographers aim to document wildlife interacting in their natural habitat, but Punkka regularly breaks the 4th wall and as a results captures photos of animals reacting to his presence. In some frames, he has squirrels literally eating out of his hand. While their intimacy turns heads and makes for strikingly unconventional photos, it’s worth noting that practices like feeding are controversial and in some nature photography circles considered unethical.

Punkka says that feeding is rare, and that he mostly relies on the tried and true methods of any wildlife photographer: patience and a close study of animal patterns. ”At first foxes were the hardest animal for me,” he told Quartz in an email. “I needed to really focus on their behavior and areas where they move to finally capture the close-up shots of them without disturbing them.”

Where does the squirrel whisperer plan to to go next? While most of his pictures capture the rugged beauty of Scandanavia’s rocky, frigid Arctic landscape, Punkka says, “I’m planning to focus more on Asia and tropical environments.”