Like most people, the first time Mika Aberra was introduced to the Faroe Islands was on social media.
“I think the first time I actually saw it was in a vlog by Rob Strok,” Aberra says. “After that my Instagram feed became flooded with shots from the Faroe Islands, and I was like, ‘Okay, I gotta go there myself.”
If both Iceland and Norway are said to be a photographer’s dream, then the Faroe Islands, which rise up between the two, are the “Inception” of those dreams. You won’t find Leonardo DiCaprio there, though—just dramatic landscapes, grass-roofed houses and sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.
The collection of 18 jagged volcanic islands, that operate as a self-governing archipelago of Denmark, has been gaining a lot of buzz on social media lately, drawing photographers from around the world hoping to capture its magic before it becomes overrun with tourists and bird watchers.
I think way too many people just go and kinda check off different spots that they've already seen on Instagram or somewhere and don't take the time to really discover a place for themselves.
Aberra, from Gothenburg, Sweden, is one of those photographers who has shared his stunning photos from the tiny Faroes.
Entirely self-taught, Aberra, 24, was your typical teenager interested in sports.
“Photography hadn’t been in my family or anything — I was much more of a sports guy,” Aberra told Marriott TRAVELER. “I played a lot of football, or soccer as you may know it, and when I quit I kind of had this identity crisis.”
It was around the age of 17 when Aberra hung up his cleats in exchange for a camera, and we’re glad that he did.
Marriott TRAVELER caught up with Aberra to discuss the backstory behind the photo above.
How did you get to this spot?
The islands are really small, so it’s super easy to get around. This spot in particular is about an hour-and-a-half hike from the airport, one way. It’s an intermediate hike, and it’s not that steep. Though you’re mostly walking sideways along the mountain on a slant, so you have to lean onto the mountain. It can be sketchy during winter, so I would definitely recommend going with someone. I wouldn’t go alone.
Who did you go to the Faroe Islands with?
I actually went by myself! When I got there I found out that there [were] a couple of other photographers there, as well. I met up with a Swede and a Norwegian, as well as a girl called Rannvá, who’s from the Faroe Islands. She’s the girl in the photo. We all connected through Instagram and were able to meet up.
I think we need to have a good variation of sources of inspiration. I can definitely notice when I’ve been looking on Instagram for too long; it kind of numbs your creativity.
What was the atmosphere like at the spot?
It reminded me a lot of Iceland with its exposure to the ocean and really dramatic weather changes. It can literally switch in a second. I think that’s the biggest variable with how it can look. It changes so quickly, and you can literally see one place in one condition and then, five minutes later, it’s just pouring down snow, and it looks like an entirely different place.
There were only two other photographers there while we were. I think it’s mainly photographers who visit the Faroe Islands. It’s not like Iceland yet in that it [hasn’t] really exploded and you will [not] meet tourists from all over the place. It’s still kind of hidden.
Have any tips for people headed there?
Bring really good clothes. A lot of clothes. I’m really not joking! That’s probably the most important thing. I’ve been on too many trips where I wasn’t prepared with good clothes, and not having the right equipment can really mess up your trip. So just pack for anything because literally anything can happen weatherwise. I would also say to do your research but be open for new spots. I think way too many people just go and kinda check off different spots that they’ve already seen on Instagram or somewhere and don’t take the time to really discover a place for themselves.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I pick up inspiration from a lot of places, especially photo magazines, books, Vimeo and Instagram. I think we need to have a good variation of sources of inspiration. I can definitely notice when I’ve been looking on Instagram for too long; it kind of numbs your creativity. I tell people to look at photos in real life, in books, in galleries. We take a lot more time to look at the photos when we consume them that way, as opposed to quickly scrolling through a feed.
What’s next for you?
Long term, obviously photography is at the top of my list. But I also want to do more writing and filming for my commercial clients — telling stories through different mediums. It really helps others relate when they see or hear things through several different means of storytelling rather than just a photo or just a podcast, for example.
View Mika’s most recent project, “Volcano Pilot,” here.