Meet Our Experts l Roger Brendhagen – Photographer & Workshop Leader
‘Hi, I’m Roger Brendhagen, photographer and workshop leader with extensive experience shooting in the Arctic and Antarctica, including 7 expeditions to Svalbard. I have extensive experience taking nature photos for magazines and newspapers across the world. I’m also a jury member at various photo competitions and have won several prizes, including an award in the Nordic Nature Photo Contest.
I look forward to welcoming you to one of my photo tours where I will share with you my skills, passion and photography knowledge.’
An Interview with Roger Brendhagen
1. How did you get into photography?
I started taking pictures when I was around 12 years old and nature has always been a big interest of mine, so it came naturally for me to also take picture of it. My other big interest was music and that became my profession until I turned thirty. After that, I started to write as a journalist and used the camera more and more. Until I used the camera more than I wrote. My photo career had a boost in 2002 when I went to Antarctica and stayed there for 3 weeks and came home with extraordinary pictures. That gave me the confidence to sell pictures and have lectures. In 2007 I got a call from Nikon which came to change my world forever. They wanted me as their ambassador, and the rest is history.
2. Please tell us about your experiences as a photographer shooting in remote destinations.
I had my first expedition to Antarctica back in 2003. I was one of the expedition leaders on a historic expedition in the footstep of the Swedish polar hero Otto Nordenskjöld who was a Swedish geologist and geographer, organized and led a scientific expedition of the Antarctic Peninsula in 1901-03.
The command was placed under an experienced Antarctic explorer Carl Anton Larsen, who served as the captain of the ship “Antarctic”, and who had previously commanded a whaling reconnaissance mission in 1892-93. Seven other scientists along with 16 officers and men also made the voyage. On October 16, 1901 the Antarctic captained by Carl Anton Larsen left Gothenburg harbour on Nordenskjold’s Antarctic expedition.
Despite its end and the great hardships endured, the expedition would be considered a scientific success, with the parties having explored much of the eastern coast of Graham Land, including Cape Longing, James Ross Island, the Joinville Island group, and the Palmer Archipelago. The expedition, which also recovered valuable geological samples and samples of marine animals, earned Nordenskjöld lasting fame at home, but its huge cost left him greatly in debt.
Two key Antarctic islands are associated with the expedition. The first is Snow Hill Island, where Otto Nordenskjöld and five of his colleagues spent two winters, one of them planned and the second forced by the sinking of the relief ship Antarctic. The second is Paulet Island where the crew of the Antarctic were stranded from February 1903 until November 1903. The expedition was rescued by the Argentinian naval vessel Uruguay.
Our expedition was on the exact spot where the ship “Antarctic” went down in the ice exactly 100 years later! During this three week expedition, I fell in love with the fifth-largest continent on Earth!
On my second expedition in 2019 I went in my own footstep – as one of the members of the expedition team on board of the Norwegian skip MS FRAM, own by the Hurtigruten. I re-visited some of the places from the expedition in 2003 – and it was easy – and scary to see the huge differences on some spots. Some of the glaciers on some of the islands was much smaller – and others had disappeared completely.
– Antarctica is land surrendered with ice – so its “easy” to see the impact of climate changes
In March 2020 I had an exhibition with some of my pictures from my last trip to Antarctica – and I also launched a book with pictures – and text about climate change.
3. What drew you to the Arctic as a photographer?
I’m dreaming about to spend a half year in the far north in the arctic. To capture the magical landscape – hopefully photographing the Polar bear in the Northern light – and write a book about the whole experience.
I´ve been to Svalbard seven times – and I look forward to going north again three times this year!
4. What is your passion as a photographer? And how do you want to help others do the same?
I try to capture the animal’s “personality” and I like to use a low perspective and a good rim light. I think that describes my style pretty much. On my workshops around the world, I give away my workflow, tips and tricks to participants in the field.
5. Why is it important to protect the Arctic?
One of the first place we can see – and fell the climate change is in the Arctic region. The sea ice is on its way back – and the living area for a lot of the wildlife is threatened. As a photographer, I can show my pictures and tell my stories so people around the world can see – and hear about the climate changes – and hopefully take a stand and change their own way of life and keep the environment cleaner.
6. How can photography be used for conservation and help spread the message about the threats the Arctic faces?
I´m holding between 80 and 100 lectures every year, where I show my pictures from my photo expeditions from all over the world. And, of course, telling my story from The Isle of Runde and other places around the world that struggle from human waste. I will continue my work in the Arctic to capture the beautiful landscape, the wildlife, and the sad story behind what’s happening with the garbage that so many people still throw in the ocean. My hope is that my pictures will help people to create a new attitude regarding this huge problem!