Starting the morning with a potentially heart-attack inducing dip in a frigid Swedish lake isn’t how most people start their day. But for Nicklas Blom this is the ideal way to wake up. Åre-based Nicklas joined us as the official photographer for Fjällräven Polar 2017. And aside from his photography skills, he’s a dab hand with a dog sled too. In winter 2013, he drove a dog-sled 1350km in 45 days from Åre to Treriksröset in Finland. “I was working too much and needed a holiday,” he says. Now that’s our kind of ‘holiday’.
Photography has always been his passion – something that comes through clearly from his work. But he actually started his working life as a chef. “I was in hospital when I had this halleluiah moment. So I quit my job and pursued photography as a full-time career. I haven’t looked back once.”
Over the years Nicklas has travelled extensively and photographed everything from studio portraits to sweeping city skylines. But his real passion lies in adventure photography. He brings a realism, a documentary point of view to his work. And that’s why we wanted him to shoot Polar – an event that’s as much about the people, the dogs and ‘life on the road’ as it is the landscape.
“I prefer to document real life, so Polar was great. But it was also challenging. We we’re moving the whole time. If you see a good backdrop or perfect light, you have to be ready to go. But everything was so well organised, so I could concentrate on taking images. I didn’t even have to pitch my own tent.”
True, he didn’t have to pitch his own tent, but Nicklas was always the first up and last to bed. The life of an adventure photographer definitely isn’t as glamorous as it sounds.
“I started each day looking for angles. The tents are usually very beautiful in the morning, as they have frost or fresh snow on them, which catches the light. So I was always outside the participant’s tents before they woke up, watching to catch them emerging after the night’s sleep. Myself and the film team then spent all day travelling by snowmobile looking for good spots to capture images from. If the weather’s bad, if it’s a whiteout for example, then we need to get really close to the participants as they’re sledding, maybe even sit on their sleds.”
“In the evening I get on the computer and edit the images and upload them to the team in Stockholm to share on social media. I also take more images in the night, especially if there are northern lights. I also have to reload batteries and so on. Then I go to sleep for four hours or so. Then I’m up to do it all over again. It’s pretty intense, but I don’t want to miss anything when it’s good. I have to be alert all the time.”
Polar has never been billed as an ‘easy’ event. Many of the participants struggle in the beginning. They’re supported by the event team, of course, but they also have to grapple with the cold, the care of their dogs and a whole load of new equipment. Nicklas, too, had to just get on with things. We’re not known for giving specific briefs and setting demands on the people we collaborate with, here at Fjällräven. And to be honest, this is something we’re unlikely to change because the results speak for themselves. Giving Nicklas a free hand has resulted in outstanding imagery. He managed to document Polar life and capture the spectacular landscape in one.
“I just love being outdoors,” says Nicklas. “And it’s not like I choose outdoor photography. In reality, it chose me.”
We believe you Nicklas!
You can see more of Nicklas’s work on his website.
Images: Nicklas Blom.
Text: Sarah Benton