Journey to the Island Kingdom

The day came. Tor Edvin arrived in Narvik and let himself in, as if I lived there still, as if we were continuing where we left off five years ago. It felt like high school, except suddenly we were five years older and we had a car and like five suitcases of our very own camera gear and were actually becoming the artists we had always dreamed of being. We left Narvik and drove for hours through the landscapes of ultimate winter dreams. Snowy mountains gleaming silver in the twilight, snow swirling in the road like smoke, grey ocean filling the gaps between the mountains.

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We were headed to Lofoten, awesomely referred in some official documents as the “Island Kingdom of Lofoten”. I can’t think of a phrase that better describes it, because that’s how it is. Imagine this: An island chain of jagged mountain peaks that rise straight up out of a turquoise ocean. Brilliant green in the summer, blanketed white in the winter, with white sand beaches, and the most idyllic fishing villages you can imagine lining its shores. Lofoten absolutely radiates inspiring creative energy and intensity – and I had never been there in the winter, only stared dreamily at the photos Tor Edvin uploaded to the internet during the years he spent there attending film school. We had to go, and through a number of very fortunate coincidences, ended up with a free place to stay in Henningsvær, perhaps the most idyllic of fishing towns (thank you, Bjarne!). Our window looked right out at the waterfront.

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We spent the next few days driving around Lofoten, taking pictures. We spent our first day in Kabelvåg, where Tor Edvin went to school – walking past places he used to live, listening to his stories, running into people he knew. The weather in Lofoten changes every couple of minutes, but for a few seconds there, it was actually sunny. We climbed to different overlooks through the snow and stared down at the sea, watching the power of it surging against the rocks.

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One of the fishermen’s cabins where Tor Edvin used to live.

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The next day, we awoke early. For the first time in a long while, I had literally an entire day devoted solely to making photographs, and asked Tor Edvin to drive to “wherever was best”. This ended up being the vast, dramatic beaches of Eggum and Uttakleiv, where we saw virtually no one except other photographers, and were able to completely immerse ourselves in the intense surreality of the place. We stopped wherever there was a good view, ran around by the crashing waves with our cameras, and in Tor Edvin’s case, even got attacked by the surf. Perhaps even more dramatic than the visual changes in landscape, wintertime in Lofoten was magical because there was nobody there. All the caravans of motorhomes and rental cars that populate Lofoten in the summer were nowhere to be found. The world around us stood still, save for the ever-changing sky and the roaring of the ocean surf.

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I don’t know what this is, but it visually describes the mood we were in.

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An astounding roadside view, for which I insisted that Tor Edvin stop the car in the middle of the road, much to the delight of an approaching semi-truck driver.

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The tiny town of Eggum, almost entirely abandoned in the winter. I love the wall of rock that rises up beside it, as if it will soon crumble down onto the houses and leave everything in ruins.

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An amazing view from the city of Svolvær, where we stayed up late into the night visiting a local artist in her amazing, tiny little house. I was so tired but we ran around on the bridge, sliding on the ice, to wake up a little and take in the incredible view.

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I took pictures, pictures and more pictures, soaking up the extraordinarily inspiring energy that Lofoten radiates. We lived and breathed the magical wintery realm and photography and film and art and friendship, and prepared for our journey further. To Skarstad.

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