Pentti Sammallahti was born in Helsinki, Finland. His grandmother was the Swedish-born photographer Hildur Larsson (1882-1952), so he was surrounded by art from an early age. Sammallahti shot his first photographs at the age of eleven after seeing the renowned Family of Man exhibition at the Helsinki Art Hall. He then joined the Helsinki Camera Club in 1964, and mounted his first solo exhibition in 1971.

Sammallahti has traveled the whole world from his home in Scandinavia, across the Soviet Republics through Siberia, to Japan, India, Morocco, Europe, and down to South Africa.

Since 1979, the artist has published thirteen books and portfolios and has received numerous awards. From 1974 to 1991, Sammallahti taught at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, before receiving a prestigious 15-year grant from the Finnish government.

Sammallahti’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg; Moderna Museet/Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm; and The Finnish State Collections and the Photographic Museum of Finland.