Iceland is quite a popular travel destination for outdoor photographers, and has become even more so recently. Why is it so special? We teamed up with outdoor photographer and story teller Scott Kranz to get his take on these magical lands, and also to see how he found his way to becoming a successful photographer, and an active member of 1% For The Planet.
Q: From studying Philosophy to being an attorney and a juris doctor, how did you get into Photography?
A: I’m originally from Minnesota. I was a philosophy major, which was quite a unique major in the sense that it was not a very large program at my university. I then went to law school after college, and practiced for three years. I met my wife in Minnesota, and together we moved to Seattle over four years ago. In Seattle, I still practiced law, but eventually the outdoor scene on the west coast transformed me and caused me to switch from the law to photography. I’m so grateful for the transition and also find the work that I do incredibly rewarding. At the end of this year I will have traveled to all seven continents.
Q: How did you get involved with 1% For The Planet and what does it mean to you?
A: I initially got involved with 1% after learning of their existence and what they do, at Outdoor Retailer, or “OR” as it is called. It was winter OR of 2016, and I attended one of the panel sessions with a few speakers, including Amanda Thomas from 1% FTP. I eventually learned that in addition to companies becoming members of 1%, smaller businesses or individuals could become members as well. I reached out and signed up. It is very important to me, as I believe in the ability to donate time and money and to put it to good use, and put in the hands of people that can make effective real change. I joined earlier this year (2017), and am very proud to be a member. I’m thrilled to know that Sunski shares the same values.
Q: What drew you to Iceland, other than the epic landscapes? Have you been to Iceland before?
A: This was my first trip to Iceland. It drew me in because, to me, it was totally new terrain. It’s quite different than anything I have ever been to and seen, but also not half way around the world and relatively easy to get to. It has a unique culture among a natural setting of new landscapes and terrain to experience.
Q: Tell us a bit more about your trip and the people you were traveling with – was it planned or more spontaneous?
A: I was with my wife and six other friends from Minnesota. We had planned it out a few months in advance, so it was not a spontaneous trip in that sense, but some of the activities were spontaneous. I like an open agenda in my travels for things that pop up. It was definitely a shorter trip than I would have liked, but we took advantage of our time on the island. We were there around the summer solstice, which is a unique time to go. The sun would set around midnight and then rise at 3am. Each day we stayed up late for sunset, hung around wherever we were and soaked in the middle blue hour (it never got fully dark), and then caught the beginning of sunrise, only to go to bed at 3am or later and sleep in until mid-day. At first this approach sounded crazy and unusual, but it worked out great as we were able to experience both sunrise and sunset everyday, with minimal crowds, and also not have to deal with jet lag. We really got to take advantage of everyday that we were there. In the end we left both exhausted and smiling.
Q: Iceland is said to be a magical place of elves and fairies, did you happen to see any on your trip?
A: I want to believe, but I don’t know if I do. We heard some stories while we were there about these little villages set up for the elves (we didn’t see any). Although I didn’t see any elves and fairies, we definitely kept our eye out.
Q: Favorite memory from your trip?
A: My wife and I caught a spectacular sunset at a place called Stokksnes along the southeastern shore of the island. Further west, near the town of Vic, we also found countless Puffins along the cliffsides. It was really cool to see them in action. They almost looked cartoon like.
Q: Traveling always has it’s struggles. What was the hardest or most difficult moment on your trip?
A: On this trip, I actually arrived two days earlier than the rest of my group, as I wanted more time to explore the island (7 days vs 5 days). But, I didn’t get much sleep when I was solo. I wanted to see everything within the week that I was there, but had to eventually give in to exhaustion and sleep a bit. Trying to fit in as much as we could without becoming sleep deprived was challenging. Other than that, we didn’t have many troubles or hurdles – the trip was pretty smooth.
Q: What equipment did you bring with you and what is your gear setup?
A: I packed relatively light, but brought plenty of equipment for the type of photos I wanted to capture. I usually bring a normal daypack, but I also have a camera bag and the following:
- Peak Design Every Day Backpack
- Sony a7rII & A6300 Mirroless Cameras
- Full range of lenses: Wide 16-35mm, 24-70mm, and 70-300mm
- MeFOTO RoadTrip Air tripod
Q: How did your Sunskis hold up to the harsh conditions in Iceland?
A: Everybody in our group got a pair for the trip and we all loved them. We used them everywhere – whether we were in a natural hot spring, or out on the road or trail exploring.
Q: Favorite Silhouette of Sunskis?
A: Taravals and Plovers
Q: Any other fun trips coming up?
A: South America (Patagonia) and Antarctica in November and December. After I complete that trip, I will have reached all Seven Continents this calendar year, which was a goal of mine from the beginning. It’s been an exciting year!
Q: Closing Note:
A: I can’t more highly recommend visiting Iceland. Provide more time than you think to go all around the island. I will definitely be returning next year to explore new areas. Despite all the hype, the experience lived up to our expectations and more!
Photos and story by Scott Kranz. Follow @scott_kranz for more of his adventures!