The place where Albert Edelfelt created most of his paintings of ordinary Finnish people was his summer studio in Haikko. For him, the local people of Uusimaa were quite sufficient to represent the whole of the nation. He did visit eastern Finland once or twice, but only as an observer who kept his distance. These visits resulted in Women outside the Church at Ruokolahti. The models for the women in the picture are known to be from Haikko, as there are photographs of them sitting in the artist's studio. Edelfelt's large compositions were never completed quickly on the spot; they were always based on careful preliminary sketches. Nevertheless, the aim of achieving a spontaneous "snapshot" effect was fundamental to his work.