Where are you based out of?
I'm based out of Harstad, Troms county municipality in northern Norway. In other words, above the Arctic circle at 68 degrees north. I was born here in February 1980, and lived here for 28 of my 35 years. It's home!
What do you do for work? Tell us a little bit about your adventure photography tours. How do people sign up for the adventure?
I work as a professional photographer, guide and instructor. Together with my great friend and business partner, Arild Heitmann, I run the popular "Lofoten Tours" and "Svalbard Photo Tour" tour companies. Both were established late 2013 as a collaborative project between Arild and I (Tommy Simonsen is involved in the Svalbard company). In just about 18 months we've grown into one of the biggest local operators in regards to pure photography tours and workshops in the Arctic Lofoten archipelago. We take great pride in being the only locals, and we strongly believe our in-depth knowledge about the region sets us apart from all the foreign operators only in it for the money. On our many tours we introduce clients to local fishermen, we make bonfires at the beach, we live in authentic fishermen-cabins called "rorbuer", we eat fresh and local gourmet food and even have access to private boats and airplanes in case of interest. The tour highlights are many as you can see, and addition to the ones mentioned above - we also explore off the grid mountains, fjords, lakes, beaches and waterfalls. Our knowledge when it comes to knowing when and where the Northern Lights will appear is unmatched - we won't go as far as guaranteeing the lights will appear, but we are very flexible and will do our very best to make each clients dreams come true. We also offer 1-to-1 post processing and compositional critique and tutoring, where we teach and discuss topics such as: understanding the concept of capturing fine art landscape and nature photography, understanding visual design and composition, understanding and working with light, understanding the methodology behind long exposure and astro/night photography, understanding how, when and where to use various filters and lots more.
People can sign up and view our gallery at www.lofotentours.com or via our Facebook page called LofotenTours. (link is https://www.facebook.com/lofotentoursAS)
What are your favorite outdoor activities?
I grew up close to both the sea and mountains, but I've always been more into seascapes untill recently. The surrounding landscape where I live is just mindblowing, I pretty much have untouched nature on my doorstep - so each day is a blessing. Besides these two photography related activities, I've recently started flyfishing for trouts and salmon in the nearby rivers and lakes, so much fun ...and requires a lot of patience, but I just love the solitude. I'm an introvert by heart, so being able to just "get lost" without wifi or a cell connection is just heavenly sometimes. My girlfriend wants to try out climbing this summer, I will join her ...who knows, I might just fish the lakes and watch up on her and our joint friends having fun in the walls!
What got you into photography, and specifically outdoor photography?
That's a good question! I used to be a professional house DJ and producer, but after I "retired" at the age of 26, I had to fill my days with another activity. I went back to school and completed a bachelors degree in social health/work, but my mind was always elsewhere ...I had this urge to explore and do something more creative. I picked up my first proper camera fall 2010, and tried everything from street, macro, wildlife and outdoor photography - but the latter was the only one that really stuck with me. I bought several tutorials and e-books, studied non stop for weeks, and then headed out trying to replicate some of the scenes and techniques I had read about. Needless to say, it was not success at first attempt. In the midst of all this, I was struggling with an illness I wasn't able to shake off - I was in bed from October 2013 to late January 2014, before I finally got an appointment with one of Europe's leading neurologists. After just a few minutes with her, I learned that I suffer from something called Horton's headache (Cluster headache). I've since learned to live with the diagnose, but instead of taking medicine I self-medicate by being outdoors and force my mind to think differently. Some might say it can be related to mindfulness in some extent, I don't know ..I just know that being outdoors gives me immense joy and is the only arena I really feel I'm in total control of.
What is your favorite photo that you have taken? Is there a story behind it? Please share the photo with us!!
My favorite photo ...it has to be the image I was able to capture on a cold February night with my friend Iurie Belegurschi, close to Nusfjord in Lofoten islands. We had been chasing and scouting the area for a couple of days, but the Northern Lights seemed sleepy this week, and didn't want to put on a show for us. We were cold, tired and exhausted but decided to re-visit this spot just for kicks really. We parked the car and tried some exposures, all of which were mediocre to say the least. The moon was partly covered by fast moving clouds, and we could every now and then see some clear patches of sky and even some stars. We thought "Aha! This might be fun, let's wait it out". Just as we had set up our composition and found the "perfect" balance, she appeared ...only for a brief moment, but as it turned out, that was all we got ...and needed. When I came home and imported the files from the night, I just loved the drama and general eerie feel the image has. For me it portrays a perfect example of how life in the north can be at times. Nail bitingly cold, but all worth it in the end.
What’s your favorite gear to shoot with?
I don't really have any favorite gear to be honest. I've been shooting Nikon D800/D810 for the last three years, and I love the image quality these cameras produce. I have no idea if either Sony or Canon are similar, as I've never really tested them. For night photography I really love the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, it's a beast and I can't wait to take her out for a spin again in Iceland in just a few days time for our Midnight Sun photography workshop. Besides cameras and lenses, I'm a big fan of polarizer filters when I shoot scenes with water ..I also use a really sturdy tripod in the Really Right Stuff TVC-34L with BH-55 LR ballhead setup. Now if I can only figure out a good way to charge all my gadgets when I'm outdoors, I would all set for new adventures.
I went on a scouting trip to Svalbard (Spitsbergen) with two friends of mine back in March. We explored glaciers, ice caves and made friends with huskies. The light up there is beyond anything I've ever seen before, and I'm glad to announce our photography tours up for April 2016 real soon. If you've always wanted to go on an Arctic adventure, this is the place to go - it's raw, remote, cold ...but just stunningly beautiful. Oh, and we might bump into some polarbears too ;)
What’s the next journey you have planned?
The next journey is actually one I don't have to travel far for. My family enherited my late grandparents' house in Vesterålen, Nordland county municipality in northern Norway, and this late summer I will explore this area and pay a visit to some of the mountains, fjords and valleys out there with my girlfriend and friends. The view from some of the mountains are breathtaking, and when you combine this grand landscape with the midnight sun, you have a potential killer combination. Most people visit Lofoten, Senja or the Lyngen alps - but Vesterålen is somewhat of a hidden and forgotten gem. I can't remember having seen decent photos from some of the locations I've planned to visit, so who knows what I will be able to bring to the table. Wish me luck!