Born in 1950 in Helsinki, Finland, from 1971 Sammallahti began to exhibit extensively in Finland and throughout the world. He is recognised as a master craftsman both in terms of the photographic print and also in mechanical printing methods. His own innovative printing techniques and his reintroduction of the portfolio form have been a major influence on published photographic art. Sammallahti taught at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki for 17 Years, until he received a 15-year artist's grant in 1991 from the Finnish government, an unusually long endowment. He had a solo exhibition at Paris for Mois de la Photographie in 1996 and another in 1998 at Houston Fotofest. In 2004, Henri Cartier-Bresson ranked Sammallahti amongst his favourite photographers in his Foundation's inaugural exhibition in Paris. In 2005 he was added to Robert Delpire's Photo Poche book series and also exhibited at the Arles International Photography Festival. As a teacher, Sammallahti has had an enormous influence on a whole generation of documentary photographers in Scandinavia and since 1979, he has published thirteen books and portfolios and has received innumerable awards. His work is in many major international collections including the V&A, London; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Bibliotheque Nationale, 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.