We have a saying here in Norway; There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. I don’t know how many times I heard this growing up. Blizzards and freezing temperatures were no excuse not to go to school. Wear an extra layer, kiddo, and off you go!
Walking home from elementary school on harsh winter days are some of my best memories. It was freezing cold but the world was our playground. We’d walk long routes home, often through fields or forests, building our little snow castles. Time flew by and more often than not, we’d come home shaking, our lips blue. But that didn’t matter. We had an adventure.
Looking back at my childhood, I’m extremely appreciative that I grew up so close to nature and in a home where we regularly went into the mountains for hiking, fishing, skiing, camping or other activities.
Adapting the “There’s no such thing as bad weather,” mindset at an early age has, in many ways, shaped me into the photographer and person I am today. It’s made me appreciate harsh climates and see the beauty in conditions where most others prefer to stay in front of the fireplace.
Perhaps that’s why I’ve gradually moved further north in the country and am now located north of the Arctic Circle. A place where the sun doesn’t rise during the winter, and doesn’t set during the summer. A place where, as of writing this, the sun has been nicely hidden behind a thick layer of rain filled clouds for the past three weeks.
From a landscape photographer’s standpoint, it’s an exciting climate to photograph in. Photography, and art in general, is often about going out of your comfort zone and actively seeking discomfort. Not only is it more rewarding for you as the creator, but the viewer sees it too. Images that convey a story tend to stand out in the crowd. And the images that convey the best stories, are often those you had to struggle for.
This is one of my main focuses when teaching landscape photography. The moment you get too comfortable is the moment your creative growth stalls. At that point, it all becomes a routine.
I encourage you to approach a landscape with the mindset of a child. Be curious. Be willing to be uncomfortable.
Some of my personal favorite images have come from days where the couch, a cup of hot chocolate and a good movie sounded a million times more tempting than going outside. Either because of cold temperatures, heavy rain or full-on blizzards.
The image below is an example of this. It’s captured in early June in a remote area of the Lofoten Islands. The temperature was just around 0 degrees Celsius and the mix of snow and rain was making us wet to the bones. But we kept pushing, pitched our tents and hiked into an area where few have been – an area away from trails and signs of human life. It was the curiosity and sense of adventure that kept us going. Hoping to capture that one image that makes the discomfort worth it.
I clearly remember a moment when my legs were tired, feet soaked, and spirit declining. It felt like a lot of work for potentially getting nothing but cold and wet. I sat down and took a minute to just observe the surroundings. That’s when the little child inside me whispered “Come on, kiddo, let’s check what’s over that hill.” It was my exact way of thinking as a child and it turned out that all these years later, it still paid off.
Whether you’re a photographer, graphic designer, digital artist or other creative, I urge you to always approach your craft with the mindset of a child. Don’t get stuck in doing things perfectly. Be curious and ask yourself “What if?”. Sometimes it pays off, other times it doesn’t. Doing it is the only way to find out.
And lastly, remember that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.