Interview with Ernest Journal: Greenland

Admittedly this interview was published on Ernest Journals website a good while ago, but It sums  up my experience nicely I think. Hope you enjoy reading about our adventures in Greenland. I have included some of my favourite shots in a gallery that I don't think I have put online before.  Also here is a link to Ernest Journal issue 4 and also issue the new issue 6 if you wanted to treat yourself, click the button! 

1. How did you first get into photography?

I started taking photographs on Geology field trips during A-level and the first year of university, we were pretty lucky with our field work locations to be honest. I traveled to Iceland and stood between two tectonic plates and watched the northern lights. In Sicily and Stromboli we conduced our course work on two of the of most active volcanos in Europe, and we searched for signs of the last Ice age in Mallorca. 

After switching my degree to Music, I started photographing and filming natural history as a hobby and it eventually became all I ever wanted to do. I definitely owe my love for travel and photography which drives me so passionately today, to studying earth science and getting the opportunity to travel to amazing places. 

2. What are your main interests as a photographer?

I think always with my landscape work I have tried to spread awareness to a degree. I want to encourage people to get outdoors, have adventures, chase that sunset, and a ultimately appreciate nature. I get a lot of enjoyment and perspective from spending time outdoors. 

The more time I spent photographing and developing a style happy with, I naturally started asking for more from my work. At the moment what interest me is our connection with the natural world. I used to really not like any human element in my photographs. I wanted to capture wilderness and untouched landscapes. I realised very recently that I had this all wrong. The most important part of the natural world at the moment I believe, is how we interact with it, especially at this point in time. Photographing pristine wilderness almost seems like false advertising to me.

There always seems to be an inherent connection between people and the outdoors. Its this connection that I find fascinating and wanting to document with my photography, whether it be my own connection or somebody else’s.

3. What have been your main influences?

Aside from my past education in earth sciences, my degree in Creative Sound and Music has had a lasting effect on my photography work. The degree taught me how to be creative in a professional context. It taught me to really think about the work I was producing, why I was producing it, and ultimately what was the message. It was then that I realised that the process and message aspect of what your doing creatively is transferable to any art form, whether it be music, design, photography or film. 

The main influences for me in terms of the visual and narrative side of things started with ‘The lord of the rings’ Trilogy. I remember watching the first film when I was quite young, and it having a profound impact on me. The other worldly style, the landscapes, colour grading and cinematography were just immense. Other than that BBC natural history documentaries like Planet Earth really blew me away back then, and still does today. Actually I watch David Attenborough’s programs almost obsessively. 

4. Tell me about your experience shooting in South Greenland - what were the highlights and lowlights? Strange experiences, hilarious encounters? 

What surprised you most about the country?

I had an amazing time working in Greenland. The landscape to me looked like what I image Scotland looked like at the end of the last Ice Age. It seemed both harsh and fragile. Everybody I met there was incredibly friendly and hospitable too.

I don't really have real ANY lowlights from the trip! Apart from a particularly rainy day visiting Viking ruins. It rained so much that the buttons on my camera started changing function all by themselves. That was a scary moment. Our flight got delayed on the way home too, but I was happy enough to spend another night in the country. I did have a few strange experiences, but none of them bad. Our guide Inge was regaling us with the Viking saga’s, near the remains of an old church where Eric the Reds Cousin settled. It was a particularly misty and rainy day and we were the only people there. After she finished her stories, Inger turned to me and asked ‘ You feel like you have been here before, don't you ?’  Being my first time in the country, I couldn't help but admit that that was exactly how I had been feeling. 

5. What's your standout memory of your time in South Greenland?

The flight into Greenland from the East is just incredible. You fly over the south tip of the country seeing the Ice sheet stretching back far to the horizon. You see the fjords along the coast and glaciers snaking through the fjords, feeding thousands of icebergs in to the sea. 

I will never forget seeing Igaliko for the first time from a high vantage point. To my surprise it was a beautifully warm day, and the afternoon light was casting long shadows across the ffjord. Later than night we were very fortunate, we were treated to an amazing show from the Aurora borealis despite the full moon, that was really special as I managed to get a few shots too! 

We heard a lot of stories from people we met about spotting whales, most days really. With this in mind I was on the look out the whole time. We spent our days traveling around on boats ( such is the greenlandic way) so we were in with a good chance.  Near the end of our trip we were lucky enough to briefly see a Humpback Whale. With its tale in the air it was diving down deep to find fish. I had always wanted to see a whale so I was absolutely thrilled. 

Greenland is the kind of country that when you get back home, your going to have to write a new bucket list. 

6. What have you learned from your trip?

I learnt a lot from the Greenlandic people, it was great hearing their perfective on life, the modern world, and also their political situation. Sometimes I felt like I talking to people from an ancient time, it was quite humbling. They still have a huge connection with the natural world at the forefront of their culture and their lives, something which I think the western world is unfortunately losing, but could benefit from. 

Oh, and if you travel to Greenland remember to forget your watch and your time schedule. Things work a little differently there.  

7. Who are your favourite photographers?

The people that come to mind at the moment are: 

David Yarrow 

Finn Beales 

Chris Burkard 

Kevin Russ

8. Dream photographic destination?

Antarctica seems like a completely magical place. A harsh and dynamic yet beautiful environment. It would have to be top of the list for me. 

9. What's on your bedside table?

A house plant, a small framed map ofMiddle Earth, a few books, and a lamp. 

10. Also  - what kit did you use in S. Greenland?

I used a Canon 6D, 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm f4, Manfrotto BeFree Tripod,

I was asked on a few occasions by people I met ‘ If I had found enough silence since I arrived in the country ‘  I felt like I knew what they really meant by that. 

There was plenty of hilarity working with Abi, never a dull moment.