The Nomadic Life of an Outdoor Photographer
Being a professional outdoor photographer is an attractive endeavor for many upcoming shooters these days. The lifestyle, travel, adventures all over the world sounds life the greatest thing anyone in their right mind could wish for.
Breaking into the business is no easy task in the age of digital cameras and photoshop. The learning curve is steep and competition is stiff, with tons of great shooters out there. Living in the mountains and being out there all the time is key, and knowing the right people, athletes, magazine editors, brand marketing managers only adds to the challenges. On top of that you have to consistently be able to produce great images no matter the conditions at hand.
My career as Outdoor Lifestyle Photographer
My career as outdoor lifestyle photographer started a few months before I was about to set out for another winter ski-bumming in St. Anton in the Austrian Alps. I received a phone call that would change my life forever. The editor of Scandinavia’s leading fitness magazine, I Form called to inform me that they had decided to publish a series of climbing photos I had shot on a climbing trip to Southern France in summer. “Could write an article to go with the photos?” Naturally the answer was yes (not that I had written anything since I left high school, but I was confident I could wing it somehow).
As the snow started falling over my favourite mountains, a check arrived in the mail, along with an invitation to submit more work. The editor became a good friend, that handed me regular travel assignments for summer and winter, and paying me very well in the process. I was sold.
Summers I was touring Europe shooting rock climbing, mountain biking, canyoning, hiking and winters were spent with St. Anton as a base, touring the Alps for events and shooting in other resorts. Next fall me and a friend skied off the summit of Bolivia’s Huyana Potosi 6092m in the Andes, I Form ran the story the following winter.
On the Adventure Racing Circuit
As my client base grew, I teamed up with a photographer agent who sold my photo stories worldwide. Life was good. An invitation from Discovery Channel to come join their expedition race Eco-Challenge in Morocco as a photographer really set things in motion. The year after I was covering the race in Patagonia and other races followed, such as Raid Gauloises in Tibet/Nepal and Greenland Adventure Race.
Personal projects always played a huge role in my development as a photographer, and it was time for another one. The Mera Peak Snowboard Expedition was born on a mountainbike trip around the Massif du Mont Blanc in Chamonix. It was a great glaciated mountain, well above 6000 meter and it was waiting for our tracks. Together we hiked, climbed and snowboarded the peak, carrying all our own gear, snowboards and food for 3 weeks in a remote valley of the Khumbu region in Nepal. Weather conditions were miserable, with snow every day, yet it was still one of my best adventures ever.
The Mens Health Connection
In the years that followed, I started working closely with Mens Health Scandinavia, as equipment editor and tester. The writing part of my business was slowly but surely taking over the photography part. A fact I wasn’t entirely happy with. Time in the mountains were spread out on trips which was fine, I’ve always been more productive on projects and the association with Mens Health Magazine opened many doors and opportunities otherwise out of my reach.
The trips in those years were epic. Working with the film crew at RAD Film opened up great opportunities for shooting our adventures in places we never thought we would go: Filming and shooting in Chile, coastal Greenland, roadtripping interior British Columbia, Heli-skiing in Canada’s Cariboo Range and the Chugach Mountains of Alaska.
In Alaska I was supposed to meet a friend of mine from Colorado, Aaron Martin, only to learn he was killed in an accident on Mt. Saint Elias, just a few days earlier. Another friend of mine, multi-Everest solo summiteer, Göran Kropp, who I got to know well on a climb on Kilimanjaro for National Geographic Adventure in August, died in a rock climbing accident near his home in Seattle a month later. On top of everything, my main client, Mens Health shut down publications in Scandinavia. It was time to move on.
A few months later, I found myself on the tiny island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand, completing every scuba diving course available to me. By Christmas I was officially a PADI Divemaster. Later I had my instructor card handed to me after a month long course in the Perhentian Islands off the east coast of Malaysia. A six month sidetrip to Egypt and the Sinai peninsula kicked me back to Perhentians and a job as underwater video/photographer. Years of teaching and underwater shooting took me between Thailand’s Similan Islands and Borneo, changing with the seasons.
It was a great time with amazing experiences, but subconsciously I was drawn back to my roots. Trail-running, mountainbiking and cave exploration pulled me to the mountains of North Thailand. Scuba gear was exchanged for surfboard, and soon we were on our way on a boat exploring and shooting surfing off the coast of remote Indonesian islands. There was no turning back, it was time to once again experience sub zero temps and percipitation in solid form.
I’m a nomad at heart, and my camera has always been the one constant in my life. Creating stunning images from wild adventures around the world will always be what drives me on. It has provided me with a privileged lifestyle and magic experiences that I hope to share through my images.