I’ve always maintained that the life of a photog is turning the pages of an illustrated adventure book. Some amazing and highly desired, some in the middle of the road, and some leave you with the wry assessment, “Well, I won’t do that again!”
Powerful and positive adventures aplenty of late. I had spent a bit of time in Norway, all too brief, and always held the country in great admiration. This past February, Annie, friend and fellow Nikon Ambassador Tamara Lackey and I brought an incredibly talented, hardy group of adventurer photographers there for an extended stay. We “chased,” in no particular order, ballerinas, Vikings, sea eagles, northern lights, and Icelandic ponies.
A hop on, hop off bus in Oslo! Could have used a few more numbers on the temperature gauge but hey, it was winter… in Norway. Great folks to work with at Stromma–always wanted to own a bus like this to run around on. Made a stop at Oslo Opera House, which is a wonder of architecture and shapes and a handy place to put ballerinas. (Who were amazing, by the way. We were in parkas, they were in tutus!)
Another stop at the historic Framm Museum, an amazing place showcasing Norway’s prestigious maritime history with projections, exhibits, you name it. Here I show my work to the Amundsen statues. They exhibit a more enthusiastic reaction than many editors I have worked for.
Drinks to kick off our stay in the small town of Svolvaer at Magic Ice! Always wanted to know what it was like in an Ice Bar. Fun and cold!
Rough weather to take off in to get to the Lofoten… but worth it to get on the water. I tell you, those North Country pilots have nerves of steel and know what they’re doing at the wheel.
Out on the waves and into the winds of the sea with XXLofoten! High powered RIB boats enabled us a literal window into prehistoric times, as we tracked magnificent sea eagles, a predator from the ages, aloft on wings that can reach up to nine feet across.
Equally beautiful but a bit less fierce were the Icelandic ponies of Hov Gard. Thank you to the wonderful riders, out there in the surf and snow.
We took another trip back in time at the Lofotr Viking Museum.
The Viking actors were great to work with during our portrait sessions, and then a hearty Norseman repast by the fire. We also had a small group of young photo students with us to grip and help. Talk about energy!
We tried for Northern Lights with Geir Notnes and Frank Olsen and saw glimpses. Need to go back for another try! Steve Lackey was nonstop energy out there, shooting BTS and helping the group. Tip of the hat to him for all these wonderfully documented memories.
The Northern Lights teased us like a dancer at a burlesque show, showing a bit, then disappearing behind a drape of clouds. Thing is, I don’t remember any measure of disappointment. I hold onto the adventure, the wind in my face, the crunch of the ice by my boots, and the piercing, bracing excitement of having a camera in hand and facing off with the elements. Nothing better, in my book.
The nights were stormy and cold, but stunningly beautiful. All the cold weather gear we bought will come in handy for the next ice bound adventure in Antarctica 🙂
Thrilled that the wonderfully talented Tamara Lackey and I are teaming up again at the end of the year for another adventure. This time in the tropics where you can actually go into the water. Costa Rica this fall!
A few spots left for a workshop called the Coast to the Clouds in Costa Rica. The beautiful thing is, both on the beach and in the cloud forest, we have the hotels to ourselves, something not easily done but a dream. Move around freely with gear and not bother anyone, leave it set up in a room. No other guests. Take over a lobby. Commandeer the outlets. My kind of travel. Alma del Pacifico is a small, funky beachfront hotel and the ideal location for our model shoot on the beach. Carara National Park is on the list, so we can plunge into the jungle and work long lens and AF strategies for the abundant wildlife.
When it comes to seeing beauty in Costa Rica, there are no bad bets. Both coasts are lovely. But the Cloud Forest, in all its serene majesty, beckons. So we designed the workshop to see both. After the sunlight, the color, the jungles by the sea, we wind our way into the mountains.
El Silencio Eco Lodge is simply one of the most peaceful places I have ever hung a hat. Tucked away in the mists, we remain there, nestled in the greenery for five days. The place is ours – no other guests. The food is amazing, and the bar has a beautiful character. (Looking for a quietly beautiful bar to finally write that novel you’ve been contemplating? Here it is!) Big thing? What you can do on property without leaving. Trails, hummingbird garden, waterfall, experienced guides, and an adventure park you can walk to. I’ve never zip-lined over the jungle canopy. That’s about to change. Video to come!
And spring has come to NY! Working with dear friends and the ever-amazing Liza Politi and Ari Espay at Ellis Island again May 12 and Sept 29. Precious few spots left on these history filled days in the NY harbor. We are allowed to go where most cannot, using tripods, and letting history whisper to us from the ancient walls and hallways where once so much hope, despair, and spirit once flowed.
Frank Olsen says
It was really great to meet and work with you guys!
Unfortunately the weather didn’t play along on the aurora trips, though.
Better luck next time! Northern Norway has still more to offer.
Wow Joe, it’s so great that you get to travel around to all those amazing places, all those countries you have visited, all those experiences, all those great images in different locations, trying different genres of photography and in the way, teaching people. I really wish for you to keep having the strength and the stamina to do this for many many years.