Tag Archives: paul zizka

Faroe Islands Q & A

Majestic natural scenery with waves crashing on coastal cliffs, Gasadalur, Faroe Islands
Majestic natural scenery with waves crashing on coastal cliffs, Gasadalur, Faroe Islands. Photo by Paul Zizka

The Faroe Islands, a group of rocky, volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, are gaining increasing popularity among photographers and adventure travel enthusiasts, due to their rugged hiking terrain, spectacular bird watching and interesting cuisine. We sat down (virtually) with 5 of Aurora’s photographers – Paolo Sartori, Paul Zizka, Brandon Huttenlocher, Sergio Villalba and Jose Azel – to find out what it’s like traveling to this outdoor playground.

Aurora Photos: What first drew you to explore the Faroes?

Paul Zizka: First and foremost, a sense of curiosity and a passion for isolation. The green, the ruggedness and the wild weather keep me going back.
Brandon Huttenlocher: The remoteness and my curiosity, wondering what else is there after seeing a few other photographers’ images.
Paolo Sartori: I traveled there before the big boom of the Faroes on Instagram. I’m always fascinated about remote and diverse places so when I saw a photo of the Mulafossur waterfall, I said, “Ok, let’s go!”.
Sergio Villalba: I have now been to the Faroes 3 times…once for windsurfing and twice for surfing. My first time was 2008.
Jose Azel: I was lucky to have visited the Faroe Islands in 1990 when I was given a magazine assignment. Since I was into mountain biking at the time, I suggested I take my bike. The editor agreed. It was the first time I flew with a bike and while it was a bit of a hassle, in the end it was worth it.

Professional Windsurfer On The Freezing Water Of The Faroe Islands
Professional Windsurfer On The Freezing Water Of The Faroe Islands. Photo by Sergio Villalba

AU: What was your favorite island or area to shoot, and what was your favorite geologic feature?

Paul: I am big on ruggedness, and in the Faroes, the further north you get, the more rugged the landscape gets. The northern halves of Eysturoy, Kalsoy and Vidoy are particularly dear to me. The sea cliffs and sea stacks in the far north are incredible!
Brandon: I really liked Kalsoy and Mykines! The sheer cliffs that jet straight out of the ocean are ridiculously impressive.
Paolo: In the Faroes every village is something unique and beautiful…if I have to pick a single place, it’s probably Saksun. The small house above the beach is totally insane.
Sergio: All of them have this amazing, remote feeling. Streymoy and Vagar, though not the most isolated, have the most stunning places.

Scenery of Mulafossur waterfall on coastal cliff at sunset, Faroe Islands
Scenery of Mulafossur waterfall on coastal cliff at sunset, Faroe Islands. Photo by Brandon Huttenlocher

AU: One of the most iconic areas on the island is Mulafossur waterfall; how long did you spend waiting for the perfect shot? How many other photographers were standing next to you?

Paul: I’ve made perhaps 5 or 6 visits to that location over the years, and I’ve shot it on my own as well as surrounded by several fellow photographers (in the context of workshops). I’ve probably spent 10 hours gazing at and shooting the falls in total.
Brandon: I think I ended going there a total of 4 times throughout my time in the Faroes at all times of the day/night. As soon as I got my rental car I drove straight there, and I finished my trip there just before heading back to the airport. My first time, there was a photography workshop group; however, when I was there in the middle of the night, I was alone.
Paolo: The day we went there, it was raining like hell and there was nobody around. I waited almost an hour and when I realized that the rain wasn’t going to stop…well, now I know my camera can still work under a storm!
Sergio: I’ve been to this place several times, all of them on exploration trips. It’s one of those corners that are so perfect that seem to be designed on purpose by someone else. Anytime of the day (or the night) is ideal to get a nice shot. Since it was waves that we were in the search for, I always visited the Faroes in the middle of winter, so I had most of the spots to myself.

View of Klaksvik town from tent and feet of relaxing tourist, Faroe Islands, Denmark
View of Klaksvik town from tent and feet of relaxing tourist, Faroe Islands, Denmark. Photo by Paolo Sartori

AU: The Faroes are sparsely populated, though that population is very diverse. Due to the small size, and the isolation of island life in general, what was the locals attitude to you? What was their attitude to you as a photographer? Are they tired of you over-running their country?

Paul: As with many Scandinavian people, they are reserved at first. Eventually though, they open up and have been extremely friendly and helpful to me. Having said that, they are currently experiencing an unprecedented boom in tourism. Time will tell whether the Faroese government can manage that new growth in a way that the locals do not get disgruntled with it all.
Paolo: There wasn’t that much instagram-based tourism just a few years back. I didn’t meet many people in the villages, but those few ones were really friendly.
Sergio: As in most other cold places, people tend to be a bit cold in the beginning, but I don’t think it has to do with me being a tourist or a photographer. Since I always visited the Faroes in winter, I never bumped into another tourist. The Faroese rely on their oceans to make a living; the soil is waterlogged all year long, so too tough to grow crops. They’ve been making big efforts to promote tourism. However, their tourist infrastructure is pretty small compared to other popular destinations; I don’t think they could welcome big crowds of people.

Salmon farm rings floating on calm water, Faroe Islands
Salmon farm rings floating on calm water, Faroe Islands. Photo by David Henderson / Caia Images

AU: The Faroe Islands are one of the 10 biggest salmon producers in the world, and many an image of the islands contains the tell-tale rings of salmon farming. There was also a long history and culture of whaling there. It seems many gourmet restaurants have opened recently. What was your favorite food?

Paul: The fish is excellent. I’ve particularly enjoyed the halibut and haddock!
Paolo: The best food was salmon, of course. There are a number of good restaurants, especially in Torshavn, but in general they are really expensive.
Sergio: You can get some crazy good food there but you have to pay the price. Fresh salmon, dried whale or even sushi is mental, but most of the time you find yourself eating gas station hotdogs since there’s no restaurants or shops in most towns.

4x4 car driving along road on seashore, Faroe Islands, Denmark
4×4 car driving along road on seashore, Faroe Islands, Denmark. Photo by Paolo Sartori


AU:
 You’ve managed to capture the islands ruggedness, yet also add a sense of allure and invitation. How did you travel around? Bike? Hike? 4 x 4? Climb? Ferry? Sail? Strap a saddle to the largest sheep and hope for the best?

Paul: I first experienced the Faroes through extensive hiking, which was incredible. Since then, I’ve explored more thoroughly and further afield via ferries and the incredible road network.
Brandon: My main mode of transportation was this tiny little rental car that felt more like a go-cart. Most islands are connected via underwater tunnels or bridges. I did take a ferry over to Kalsoy. They do some boat trips which are pretty awesone getting you out on the water and able to look back at the island and the sheer cliffs straight out of the ocean. But the best and most fun transportation in the Faroes is the helicopter! Its extremely cheap and scenic. I flew from the airport to Mykines island for about $30USD (round trip). Just do your research about it, as you can only do a 1 way trip each day.
Paolo: I was moving around in a Land Rover Defender, sleeping in a roof mounted tent. It was perfect because it allowed me to stay on location by night.
Sergio: Car, lots of hiking and occasionally a chopper. The weather’s so rough you need to make sure to check the forecast properly every morning before you hit the road.
Jose: The bus system is extensive and goes throughout the island. There are no official bus stops, at least not at the time, and I all I had to do was flag on down if I wanted a ride. To satiate my thirst for adventure, nothing beat biking on their narrow roads. They have many tunnels under their steep mountain terrain; speeding into these somewhat dark, narrow tubes on a fast downhill provided me with an adrenaline rush! Fortunately, the sparseness of automobiles kept encounters to a minimum.

AU: Is it EVER sunny there? Seriously. Epic photos guys, but the sun has to shine sometimes right?

Paul: In my experience, never for very long. I’ve been to the Faroes at different times of year and fickle weather seems to be the norm. That’s fine by me. I find the ever-changing, moody weather fits the landscape perfectly.
Brandon:  If it is sunny, you’d better not blink, because it’ll be gone before your eyes open again! Oh, and the wind. If you enjoy the wind, this place is for you. I watched the water from the Mulafossur waterfall blow back up and not even touch the ocean one afternoon is was so windy.
Paolo: I’ve been there for a week, and I got a couple hours of sun in total. On the last day I was talking with a local, and when I complained about weather, he said “oh, you are lucky, we had good weather this past week!”
Sergio: Absolutely! Even in winter, I believe they enjoy more sunny days than UK or Belgium. The sun doesn’t rise high enough to reach the deep valleys though.

The Town Of Tjornuvik In Streymoy, The Faroe Islands
The Town Of Tjornuvik In Streymoy, The Faroe Islands. Photo by Sergio Villalba

AU: What was the most interesting thing you learned about the Faroe Islands / your favorite experience / experiential wisdom you’d like to pass along to future travelers?

Paul: The Faroes are truly a place like no other. I highly recommend you get there before the crowds do. It’s really only a matter of time. And get out on foot. Even when the place starts getting the visitors it deserves, there will be many pristine stretches of shoreline to explore for those willing to put in the work.
Brandon: Take the helicopter. Watch out for sheep while driving. Embrace the excessive amount of wind and gloomy weather.  You’re not supposed to camp in cars like most people do in Iceland (we wont tell anyone I did this). Its an incredibly safe country. Oh, did I mention the wind?
Paolo: For me the most interesting part was the people living there. For most of us that are living on the mainland would be really hard to stay there for more than a couple weeks. We are used to have relatively easy access to almost anything; driving a couple hours from home I can be on a 4000m peak in the Alps or on a sunny beach in the Mediterranean. I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to live on a remote island with only 10 other people, hours away from the nearest hospital…
Jose: Several impressions have stayed with me ever since my visit there. First and foremost was the stark beauty of the landscape: treeless and bright green, often with a clear blue sky and expansive views of the ocean. Perhaps I got lucky and had a fair number of good weather days. The other lasting mark was the quaintness of the buildings. So many seemed too perfect to be real. Almost none needed paint and the villages that lined the shores of the many coves and bays were incredibly picturesque.

Majestic natural scenery with coastal cliffs under dramatic sky, Kalsoy, Faroe Islands
Majestic natural scenery with coastal cliffs under dramatic sky, Kalsoy, Faroe Islands. Photo by Paul Zizka

To see more images of the Faroes, click here.

Or, check out more from their personal sites below:

Instagram Tips

Instagram continues to grow as a marketing tool and a way to tell your brand’s story. It’s much easier to keep an up to date Instagram account than it is to update your website with new work, whether you’re a photographer or a brand. We asked some of our photographers who either have large followings or are being recognized as Instagrammers to watch for some tips:

Rachid Dahnoun, @rachidphoto

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Be Engaged. Most people who don’t do well on social networks forget that it isn’t all about you; you need to interact with other people on the network by liking, commenting and following other accounts.  Building relationships with other users will really help boost your own account’s engagement.

Be Consistent. Posting once a week isn’t going to cut it.  Nor is posting a beautiful landscape one day and a furry kitten the next.  Consistency across the board is key.  You want to be posting at least 5 days a week (7 is ideal).  That said, you don’t want to over-post either.  If you overload your followers with 4 posts in an hour they are likely to dump you.  For content, you want to stay true to yourself and your brand.  When someone looks at your feed the work should look and feel cohesive, just like a portfolio.

Jess McGlothin, @jess_mcglothlin_media 

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Look Outside Your Immediate Target Audience. I specialize in fly-fishing and outdoor adventure travel, but I’ve seen an increase in fitness and general travel followers when I tailor a post to less-technical viewers. A fun one-liner with a post about my favorite sandals for airplane rides? That’s guaranteed to land a few new followers outside my normal “dude with a beard and a fly rod” genre.

Tell Stories. An image is worth a thousand words, as they say. When someone is flipping through their feed, I want the image to make them stop and look deeper. It’s a tenet of strong photography, and it’s important here too. Instagram is a great tool of escapism… enable that a bit; let people into the story. They’ll respond.

Let People in to Your World. Adding a ten-second video into your feed once in a while allows viewers to feel like they’re behind the scenes. In the past few months I shot iPhone videos of helicopters landing on rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, people passing through the Lima airport at 1AM and a team bumping along a backcountry road in the Amazon jungle while dodging bamboo overgrowth. Video is a fantastic tool to relate to your audience… show that it’s not all fun and glory and good times! Sometimes the job is sleeping on airport floors, dealing with infected wounds and burning time on long car rides. Let’s not be afraid to talk about that!

Andrew Peacock, @footloosefotography

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Be True to Yourself. It’s important that I am excited about posting and it helps if I keep things fresh and post very recent work rather than spend time ‘mining’ my archive looking for something to post just because I feel pressure to do so! I think of my Instagram feed as a portfolio for my adventure travel photography, so I only post high quality images and I keep it ‘real’ in terms of any post processing, to ensure my feed is an accurate reflection of the style of work I deliver to clients.

Find Partners. I’m very lucky to be able to travel widely, so I make sure to post images across a range of subjects and locations to appeal to those looking for adventure travel inspiration on Instagram. Occasionally  I’ll also share my work on a feed with a larger audience. By establishing personal connections with relevant people at companies with huge Instagram followings – Lonely Planet, for instance – I’ve gained an avenue to share my work with a broader audience.

Paul Zizka, @paulzizkaphoto

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#Trending! Posting images relevant to current natural events seems to give my post an extra boost in interaction. Whether it’s season specific, ie. snowy scene during the Winter months, or an Aurora post during or after a solar storm, finding images that people can relate to as something they’re experiencing or thinking about is a strategy that pays off for me.

Sean Davey, @sean_davey

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Ask Questions. I post a a mix of images as they happen, along with classic surf images from my days as a magazine photographer, to keep the content interesting and different as much as I can. I try to engage my audience as much as possible. Ask them a question about the picture, or in my case, I ask them to name the photo and reward the winner with a few 8×10’s.  I see that as part of my advertising budget, so to speak.

David Hanson, @davidhanson3

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Share Personal Work. For over a dozen years I’ve collected portraits and interviews of people I meet, most complete strangers. With over 400, I turned to Instagram to post one per day for 2017. It’s a fun way to stay both consistent and unpredictable. I was a writer before I was a photographer so I like digging beyond the pic. And part of me hopes to learn some secret to life from the people.

Kay Vilchis Zapata, @kayuvilchis

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Join the Celebration. I like to upload photos on days that are celebrating something, like for example National Dolphin Day. I think that by celebrating something everyone talks about that topic and in the same way you can make your audience aware of conserving those important elements and taking more care of the planet.

Aurora Photographers Win Big in PDN’s Great Outdoors Contest

PDN just announced the 2016 winners of The Great Outdoors photography contest in categories including Action/Adventure, Landscapes, Beaches/Underwater, and Wildlife/Insects. Open to both pro and amateur shooters, The Great Outdoors contest celebrates the beautiful vistas, diverse wildlife and adventure that make our planet so unique.

We’re excited to share that several Aurora photographers, which we entered into the contest, were selected as winners in 3 out of the 4 professional categories including Sean Naugle who won the Grand prize in the Professional Action/Adventure category.

Our first place winners included Paul Zizka in the Landscapes category and Sergio Villalba in the Beaches/Underwater category. Chris Schmid and Chris Ross were also selected as winners in the Action/Adventure and Beaches/Underwater categories. Additionally, 3 more of our photographers, Adam Clark, Krystle Wright and Alasdair Turner won with their own independent entries in the Action/Adventure and Wildlife/Insects categories, respectively.

Although it’s always a challenge to select only a few pieces to submit from our photographers’ great body of imagery it’s also extremely rewarding and validating to have their fantastic work recognized on such a big stage by a wide variety of  judges.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Check out our photographers’ winning imagery below and browse the entire winner’s gallery here.

Grand Prize Winner: Sean Naugle

Professional kiteboarder Matt Thames catches huge air in the backcountry near Fairfield, Idaho.
Professional kiteboarder Matt Thames catches huge air in the backcountry near Fairfield, Idaho.

First Place Professional, Landscapes: Paul Zizka

Ice climbing under the aurora borealis in Athabasca, Canada.
Ice climbing under the aurora borealis in Athabasca, Canada.

First Place Professional, Beaches/Underwater: Sergio Villalba

A woman ducks under a wave.
A woman ducks under a wave.

Winner Professional, Action/Adventure: Chris Schmid

An aerial shot of a surfer, captured above Brazil's Praia Mole beach in Florianopolis.
An aerial shot of a surfer, captured above Brazil’s Praia Mole beach in Florianopolis.

Winner Professional, Beaches/Underwater: Chris Ross

Offshore fishermen catching sailfish and dolphin fish in the waters off Guatemala
Offshore fishermen catching sailfish and dolphin fish in the waters off Guatemala

Winner Professional, Action/Adventure: Adam Clark

Sage Cattabriga-Alosa descends the Neacola Mountains in Alaska.
Sage Cattabriga-Alosa descends the Neacola Mountains in Alaska.

Winner Professional, Action/Adventure: Krystle Wright

Steph Davis ascends The Joker 5.12d near Moab, Utah.
Steph Davis ascends The Joker 5.12d near Moab, Utah.

Winner Professional, Landscapes and Wildlife/Insects: Alasdair Turner

A crack runs across the surface of the Ross Sea in Antarctica
A crack runs across the surface of the Ross Sea in Antarctica
A weddell seal in a breathing hole in the sea ice of the Ross Sea, Antarctica.
A weddell seal in a breathing hole in the sea ice of the Ross Sea, Antarctica.

 

 

New Images for May

Person playing ice hockey at night under the stars and Mount Rundle

With Spring finally arriving in Maine, winter imagery is on it’s way out and summer fun is about to start. However, our photographers couldn’t resist one last bit of ice hockey and ice climbing in Banff, and skiing in North Korea and Silverton, Colorado, on a blue bird day. For those sick of the cold, there’s plenty of National Parks and warm, exotic locations, like Rio and Abu Dhabi, to explore. Whether you get there by foot, bike, boat, motorcycle or RV, your travels will be well worth it.  For those looking for more wild interactions, we’ve got close encounters with birds and deer, a bunny’s first birthday, an urban farm goat coop and a bear dance contest !

See all that and more in the realms of active lifestyle, adventure and exotic travel in this month’s curated gallery of outdoor living: http://www.auroraphotos.com/result?webseries_id=14734