71.7069° N, 42.6043° W
Stian Klo is a landscape photographer hailing from the northern parts of Norway, renowned for both its beauty and its harshness. In addition to being an official Lonely Planet photographer, his work has been featured by Apple, National Geographic and BBC. We sat down with him to discuss his latest excursion to Greenland.
Greenland isn’t exactly at the top of most people’s dream destinations, what was it that first inspired you to visit?
I guess you are right! It’s hard to explain why, I’ve just always been intrigued and inspired by frozen landscapes and winter-themed images. Watching BBC documentaries when I was younger immediately triggered the explorer bug in me. The majority of my work is based around life in the Arctic, and Greenland is perhaps one of the crown jewels in that sense. Its history, landscape and all around “mystery” is almost overpowering, and I hope my images are able to display just 10% of the feeling I had when I captured them. Truly a stunning place, and it saddens me that it’s melting at an alarming pace. The stories the locals told me gave me cold shivers and a feeling of hopelessness.
What is it about Greenland that is so compelling to you as a photographer?
It’s rough, barren, naked, remote - but oh so beautiful in it’s pure form. It’s amazing to witness the sheer force of nature. The glaciers and icebergs are big as skyscrapers, and they calve and move constantly creating new shapes and patterns. Sailing in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ilulissat Icefjord was mindblowing. I had extremely high expectations, and the real deal was ten times better. The icebergs look man-made, the lines and shapes are every photographers wet dream, and when you combine it with local wildlife and the golden soft light, you have a true winner on your cards.
What was most surprising to you?
How insanely big it is! Flying in there, we flew over the icesheet and it was pure white nonstop for almost two hours. Also the size of the icebergs and glaciers threw me at first. When we sailed alongside and inbetween them, even though we kept safe distance by hundreds of meters – they rise straight up from the ocean.
Greenland is known to be especially vulnerable to climate change, especially the melting of the Greenland ice-sheet. How did this affect your view of the places you visited?
I saw signs of it in the form of land previously covered by ice, now being visible. I did an aerial shoot above two of the biggest glaciers and the locals told me they had retracted several hundred kilometers. One woman even told me a story from when she was a kid growing up and saw 200-250m tall icebergs on the Icefjord, and now – only 15 years later, they are reduced by more than 50%. Greenland’s icesheet is melting fast, and that was another important factor for me for wanting to travel there now before it’s accessible and probably commercial.
Your work focuses a lot on Nordic landscapes, is there any plans for the future to explore other arenas?
I have some projects in mind, but nothing’s 100% yet. I enjoy the Nordic and Arctic destinations the most, so 9 out of 10 trips will probably be based around those areas. Who knows, maybe I’ll go explore New Zealand or Patagonia next ? Both very popular destinations, but hopefully I can try and capture some different angles. The photographic opportunities are endless – in an ideal world, I’d love to travel all year around, but my beloved girlfriend would not allow that haha !