We had a chance to interview local photographer, Bethany Jackson about her upcoming trip, travel interests, and why she loves photography. Check out her interview below!
Nordic Travel Expert, Elaine Peik: Tell us a little about yourself.
Bethany: I was raised on the edge of the suburbs with two brothers and a giant forest in our backyard - so growing up we were surrounded by opportunities for exploration and adventure! I don't know whether the need for adventure is something that's in you when you're born or instilled in you as you grow - but whatever it is, I have a bad case of it. I also always loved to take pictures growing up, and was gifted my first little film camera when I was in elementary school. I would bring it on family trips to the North Shore or Colorado, but also to everyday things like middle school band concerts. All of life is an adventure and it's worth documenting! I'm a full time professional photographer, and I absolutely love the flexibility that offers so that I can continue to travel. Most of the photography that I currently do professionally is weddings, families, seniors, headshots, and theatrical production photos. However, landscape and nature photography is probably my favorite kind. Also, my degree was in vocal performance, and I still enjoy doing musicals, operas, and jazz gigs several times a year.
Elaine: Do you remember when you first felt the travel bug, and where did you go, what did you do on that trip?
Bethany: There were sort of two big phases to the biting of the travel bug for me. The first was going to Colorado with my family, to a ranch called Latigo. I was hit hard with the beautiful feeling of completely falling in love with a place that was so different than home. The new smell of different types of trees, the feel of the air in the morning up in the mountains, and the view of the mountains from the porch on the lodge. I can still close my eyes and feel instant nostalgia for the way things felt and smelled and looked when I was at Latigo. The second phase was when I discovered independent travel. It started when I had two separate engagements in Los Angeles, and 9 days in between the two engagements. I figured rather than go home and then fly back out, I would just stay for 9 days and entertain myself there. I had a friend with a couch I crashed on, but during the day I would wander and entertain myself and explore. I learned how to optimize all of life and squeeze out every opportunity to explore new places, even if it means doing it by yourself. For example - if you have a wedding to go to in Columbia, South Carolina, then figure out a way to make it down to Charleston afterwards! If you're flying home from London and you can add a layover in Iceland, do it! Rent a car, sleep alone in the car, and take all the photos you can in 24 hours! If you find yourself on a choir tour to the Baltics, pay a couple hundred bucks to push your return flight back a week and hop on over to Norway for a while! (Pro tip - convince your family to come to Norway with you. Norway is best experienced with loved ones. It is one of the only places I've ever been that's simply TOO GOOD to explore alone).
Elaine: When was your first trip to Norway and what was the most memorable thing about that trip?
Bethany: It was in the summer of 2016 - after a trip to the Baltics with a choir, I flew to Norway and met my family in Oslo. The trip was my idea, but when other members of my family started looking at photos of Norway, it didn't take much to convince them to come. Two moments tie for most memorable. The first was driving down into the valley in Gudvangen, amidst the most dramatic scenery I've ever seen. I had reached a point where I thought it was impossible for it to get any better, and then it very suddenly got WAY better. It was an incredible moment. I'm glad nobody was videotaping me because I'm pretty sure I was acting like a five-year-old on Christmas morning. The second most memorable was making it to the top of a very long, unmarked hike with my brother. It had been cloudy all day, but right as we reached the top and peered over the edge of the 4,500 ft cliff, the last clouds dissipated from the fjord and we got a crystal clear, bright blue and green view that covered miles and miles of the most breathtaking view I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing. It might sound dramatic, but that's okay because it really was dramatic. :)
Elaine: What was your favorite spot(s) in Norway to photograph and why?
Bethany: That question is too hard. The easy answer would be the top of the fjord hike with my brother that day. But the incredible thing about Norway is that literally everywhere you turn, there is something that feels like it's straight out of a painting. Many of my absolute favorite photographs from the trip were literally taken from the side of the road or even out the window of a moving car. (My poor father put up with me forcing him to pull over so many times. He's a gem.)
Elaine: Is there a specific type of photography you like to shoot (do?) while traveling such as northern lights, animals, scenery, or something different?
Bethany: I love shooting the stars, when I can. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has some of the brightest, clearest stars, and I've been shooting them for years. I've never had the privilege of seeing Northern Lights strong enough to be photographed, but it's on my bucket list. I would say that my favorite types of travel photography are definitely scenery and architecture, with a heavy dose of candids to document the life and spirit and movement of the cities and the experiences of the people around me (if I'm with people).
Elaine: With this trip, what do you hope the participants get out of it, be it hiking, photography, culture or something else specific?
Bethany: I would hope that people grow in their understanding of how to squeeze the most out of their travel, and in their ability to photographically capture the essence of the places they go and the experiences they had there.
Elaine: Is this trip just for people who want to hike or who enjoy taking photographs?
Bethany: Not at all! It will obviously be wonderful for those looking to hike or learn more about travel photography, but there will be flexibility in the schedule for those who don't feel like doing any strenuous hiking. We've got all sorts of awesome stuff planned that will be enjoyable for anyone who loves having fun!
Elaine: What are you most looking forward to for this trip?
Bethany: I think that aside from just being present in my favorite travel destination of all time, I'm excited to meet people and build relationships! I really just love people and forming friendships and making memories. It's amazing how traveling with people can make you feel like you've known them for so much longer than a week - I'm looking forward to that :)
Elaine: Do you plan on doing any future group trips to any other Nordic Destinations or beyond?
Bethany: I would certainly love to!