For me, my work as a photographer is about more than capturing photos. It's about telling a story. Regardless if I'm creating photos for an outdoor brand or a tourist destination I want my work to say something, for the images to work together and be connected through storytelling.

I did not intentionally choose to become a nature photographer, nature chose me to capture her. I was a fashion and interior photographer that started to explore the outdoors in my spare time. And I brought my camera along just to capture memories. I fell in love with it and many years later I find myself working as an outdoor lifestyle photographer.

My camera is a travel companion as much as a tool of the trade. Which is why I need my gear to be light and small. When I am out working to capture images and tell a story, me and the client or my models are outside actually hiking, paddling, biking or foraging for berries and mushrooms. Enjoying what nature has to offer, as a part of our work.

I want to have my camera at hand and ready at all times, not just tucked away safely in my backpack. It's often hanging on my shoulder or slung across my body. I need a camera that allows me to partake in outdoor activities without weighing me down. That's how I am ready to capture all the small moments in between that help make a series a story.

This is what led me to sell off my bigger 35 mm system gear in exchange for lighter and smaller camera gear from Olympus and now the OM SYSTEM. Since then, my main camera has been the Olympus E-M5 Mark III but that might soon change. This autumn I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to use its younger sibling and successor, the OM SYSTEM OM-5.

Coffee, a fire steel, notebook, hat and compass
Coffee, a fire steel, notebook, hat and compass: some of the outdoor essentials that join me alongside my OM-5, usually paired with the 12mm f/2.0 or 20mm f/1.4 PRO lenses.

Living slow and staying wild

I start my day by slipping into knitted socks and making a pot of coffee. The warmth of the cup warms my hands and helps me wake up. I might journal or draw for a bit, and then I light some candles in my home office and get to work. I spend the morning editing photos, emailing clients and planning for upcoming trips, lessons or photo shoots. Then I make some lunch and after being re-fuelled I don my foraging gear and head to the forest.

This forest is my backyard. It's a short walk from where I live in the north of Sweden, and this is where I come to get a screen break, recharge my batteries and get inspired. It's also where I do a lot of foraging for food. I love that I have nature on my doorstep and that I get to experience it through all of the seasons. Right now it's autumn and it is my absolute favorite.

hunt for mushrooms
As a photographer, I am constantly scanning my surroundings, seeing images everywhere, something that has helped me in my hunt for mushrooms as well!
 earthy colors
The warm, earthy colors are so in tune with me and my visual style, the air is cooler and easier to breathe and there's also so much free food out there right now! My work-life balance is at its best when autumn rolls around.
Basket in hand
OM-5 M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 PRO 20mm 1/500s F2.0 ISO250
In my bag I also carry a macro lens to get closer to the textures, small mushrooms and bugs I come across, and a 12 mm to capture the wider views my forest has to offer.

Basket in hand, mushroom knife on my belt and a small pack with an extra layer, more coffee, some snacks, water, a first aid kit, my notebook and a compass are all I need to be out for a few hours. Oh, and my camera gear of course. It's so compact that I barely notice it, something that's so important to me as I move through the forest, off the beaten path through moss and ferns, scrambling over rocks and ducking under trees. That's where the mushrooms grow!

mushroom
OM-5 M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 PRO 20mm 1/320s F2.5 ISO250

The weather can be a bit unpredictable during autumn, and I am often dealing with rain or heavy, wet fog. I love being out taking photos in that since it adds such a moody, mystical atmosphere to the forest. Plants and mushrooms really come alive with an extra glow when they're wet as well!

Since the OM-5 is weather-sealed I don't have to worry about the gear and as long as I dress properly I can head out no matter what the forecast says. When I am able to head outside with my camera and bushwhack through my forest I feel free and alive and my small gear makes sure I don't have to sacrifice my creativity.

The warm colours of autumn paired with nature’s beautiful textures are so inspiring to me!
OM-5 M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 PRO 20mm 1/60s F2.5 ISO200
The warm colors of autumn paired with nature’s beautiful textures are so inspiring to me!

This camera is incredibly small and lightweight, but on the inside it has everything I require to capture the magic around me. The built-in focus stacking is great to use when capturing small mushrooms. It ensures that everything is sharp, but I still get the soft, blurry background I love to really help the mushrooms pop. And since it's all stitched together in camera I have less work in front of a screen, which means I get more time in the forest!

As I come back home I have new photos I love and renewed energy for a few more hours of office work, as well as enough mushrooms for dinner or berries that I use to make jam, ferment or flavor my kombucha with. What more could one ask for?

Using the OM-5 in my own forest, it quickly became a new best friend for my local, close-to-home adventures. But earlier this year I also put it to the test in a very different environment.

in-camera focus stacking feature
OM-5 M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro 60mm 1/60s F2.8 ISO200
This image was captured using the in-camera focus stacking feature. Without it I would have needed a tripod and to take multiple photos manually. And ultimately spend a lot of time back home at the computer stitching them together.

From the rivers...

This summer I went on an amazing trip with friends which allowed me to test the new camera in an environment it really shines in. We headed to the most northern parts of Scandinavia to enjoy everything the northern nature had to offer: breath-taking views, rewarding hikes, never-ending summer nights and reindeer sightings.

One evening we headed to a small mountain lake. It was a short hike and with us we had food, fishing gear, clothes for layering with and of course photo gear to capture some memories. In the never-ending summer night that Scandinavia has to offer, we headed out onto the still waters and paddled a bit, enjoying the silence of the mountains.

I love being in nature with friends who share my passion for photography.
OM-5 M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 PRO 1/4000s F2.8 ISO400
I love being in nature with friends who share my passion for photography.
The small body and light weight of the OM-5 make it easy to flip around to take a selfie or get close to details.
The small body and light weight of the OM-5 make it easy to flip around to take a selfie or get close to details.

Later in the evening Daniel and Pablo went fishing. The sun briefly lowered itself behind the mountains before starting to rise again. Summer nights in the north are quite extraordinary, something that you really can't imagine without experiencing them first-hand.

A fresh catch doesn't need much to make it taste delicious, so we made a fire and I simply prepped our fish with salt and fresh juniper. We let it slowly cook over the fire while enjoying the smell and the fact that smoke keeps the bugs at bay. Mosquitos are also a part of northern summer unless you get here in early June.

In order to tell a good story I find it's key to capture the big views...
OM-5 M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0 12mm 1/3200s F2.2 ISO250
In order to tell a good story I find it's key to capture the big views...
...as well as hone in on the details.
OM-5 M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0 12mm 1/3200s F2.2 ISO250
...as well as hone in on the details.
Small gear means I don't need a big bag. This enables me to move freely while I work (photo by Daniel Villadsen).
OM-5 M.Zuiko 12-45mm F4.0 PRO 16mm 1/160s F4.0 ISO200
Small gear means I don't need a big bag. This enables me to move freely while I work (photo by Daniel Villadsen).
I've photographed two books on outdoor cooking now and it's a favourite subject of mine.
I've photographed two books on outdoor cooking now and it's a favorite subject of mine.
fire
OM-5 M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 PRO 20mm 1/60s F1.8 ISO64

...to the mountains

The following day it was time for a new adventure. We travelled across the border to Norway, and in the afternoon we started hiking up a mountain. The plan was to enjoy the sunset from the mountaintop. It was really hot as the sun beat down on us. The beginning of the hike was steep, the path narrow and the rocks loose. It was a hard climb for me.

It's in situations like these I am especially grateful that my gear is so light. I knew it would be colder on the top, so I had made sure to pack layers of clothes, as well as food, water, a first aid kit, knife and compass. There’s no room for loads of camera equipment, but I had everything I needed to capture our experience and tell our story.

A hard, steep hike but I still managed to take photos since my small camera was always on my shoulder, ready to be used.
A hard, steep hike but I still managed to take photos since my small camera was always on my shoulder, ready to be used.
Snacks in the form of dried reindeer meat, my compass and good company = key essentials for a hike!
Snacks in the form of dried reindeer meat, my compass and good company = key essentials for a hike!
Surrounded by fog
OM-5 M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 75mm 1/125s F6.3 ISO320

Surrounded by fog, my body aching and my mind tiredly realizing that I also have to hike back down. But I also feel alive. I am here creating new memories with friends in a beautiful place. Pushing hard to earn the experiences as well as the images captured along the way. This is when I am the happiest.

I want to have my camera at hand and ready at all times. Not just tucked away safely in my backpack. It's often hanging on my shoulder or slung across my body. I need a camera that allows me to partake in outdoor activities without weighing me down. That's how I am ready to capture all the small moments in between that help make a series a story.

This is what led me to sell off my bigger 35 mm system gear in exchange for lighter and smaller camera gear from Olympus and now OM SYSTEM. Since then my main camera has been the OM-D E-M5 Mark III but that might soon change. This fall I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to see what this new camera can accomplish!

My best photos happen when I'm having fun and enjoying life. Either during a trip with friends, or alone in my forest, with just nature and my own thoughts for company.
OM-5 M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0 12mm 1/200s F2.0 ISO100
My best photos happen when I'm having fun and enjoying life. Either during a trip with friends, or alone in my forest, with just nature and my own thoughts for company.

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Rania is an outdoor and lifestyle photographer based in the north of Sweden. Seven years ago she left the big city life and her dreams of fashion and interior photography behind. She sought something calmer and in the deep northern forests she found the quality of life she needed. After moving she stood on the porch with her morning coffee, watching the fog dance across the lake, and in the cold winter evenings she ran outside with her tripod to capture the northern lights. There and then something shifted in her, and she's been working as an outdoor and lifestyle photographer ever since. Today Rania works with clients to capture the outdoor lifestyle and products, and she works with local restaurants photographing their food and interior.

When she's not taking photos she's usually found in the climbing gym or playing board games with friends.

CONNECT WITH RANIA

Website: @grainandfern.com/
Instagram: @grainandfern