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when kai fagerström happened upon an old cottage in rural suomusjärvi, finland, abandoned decades ago, he began to document its new residents.

there were badger cubs born under the floorboards, who now used the fireplace as an entrance. there was a raccoon dog pup who would drop in every night at the same time. there was a pygmy owl who would try to catch the home’s voles. there were red squirrels who had built their dreys inside the house. and there was a fox pup, seen peeking out from a cat door, that had taken up in the dilapidated shed.

"there’s consolation in the idea that nature is reclaiming the places it has lent to people," he says, adding that when he enters the house “it’s like stepping back in time. the past lingers in the corners.” it’s not just the animals that interest him, but the people no longer there. “who were they? what was their daily life like?” he asks.

to get his shots of these human wary animals, fagerström typically envisions an image first and then plans it out. he’ll set his camera at the perfect angle, throw out peanuts as bait, and wait patiently for wildlife to wander into the picture frame. “sometimes you get lucky, but often it takes all night,” he says. “every so often a shot is pure happenstance.”

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