The Faroe Islands, a small chain of 18 volcanic origin islands in the North Atlantic, are unlike anywhere in the world. Olympus Explorer Chris Poplawski walks us through the remote and mostly isolated beauty in a country with 50,000 people and 70,000 sheep. So without further ado, let's take a visual walk through a day in the life of a Faroese.
This Is The Land of 'Maybes'
To fully grasp what to expect when photographing the Faroe Islands, it's important to walk into the country with a completely open mind. Sunny days, low clouds, severe winds, snow, it's never too cold; it changes daily. Travel agents may disagree, but I believe you can visit year round.
Weather reports are unreliable. If you wake up to rain, drive 20 minutes and you may have sunny weather. You can drive from one end to the other in 75 minutes. Having spent over a month of combined time here, I've learned you cannot simply plan for this place. Lighting fluctuates, and dramatic weather adds to why I love it here so much.
Can we hike this in rain? The answer is always maybe. Hike to a place like Traelanipa, you may be completely socked in clouds for 3km, hang out on these massive cliffs for 15 minutes and suddenly a window opens.
Luckily, there are few places as small as this country that are still packed with as much raw, unspoiled beauty.
Everything Can Be Captured
I encourage photographers to carry every lens they own when visiting a place like the Faroe Islands. The more lenses you carry, the more versatile you can be. Although I focused heavily on my 7-14mm F2.8 PRO and 12-40mm F2.8 PRO, there was deep impactful moments that required the 40-150mm F2.8 PRO and 25mm F1.2 PRO.
Three separate visits, and I constantly find new compositions. The trick is being mobile and being willing to stray away from the photography crowds.
Every road, Farosese local, grass roof, animal and every town you drive through is a moving picture. Everything is so different compared to other places in the world, and for that everything can be captured. The more you pullover, the more creativity takes over. Spending time here opened my mind to elements I would otherwise ignore in my photos.
The Edge of the World
It's difficult to comprehend just how isolated and remote the Faroe Islands truly are.
This is Saksun and it is full of traditional grass roof homes. Can you believe that 7 people live in this little village? Their backyard is a fjord with massive walls consuming these tiny homes, and rivers winding in and out of every scene.
Who wouldn't want a picture here?
Being mindful to the effects of social media, locals own land that's been handed down for 100's of years and outside of their family- few people knew about it before that 'featured photo' came along. Tourism only hit the ground 4-5 years ago, and most of the landscape is still being prepared for handling foot traffic. To maintain and sustain a beautiful place, I believe it falls on the photo seekers to respect and educate the world of the places we visit. Follow the path. Ask for permission to enter. Respect laws and signage. After all, we only get to experience what locals are so gracious to open to us.
How Was This Visit Different For Me?
Never in a million years did I imagine being one of the first people to test out a new camera in a place as aesthetic as this. Olympus extended an OM-D E-M5 Mark III and I was blown away. The dynamic range, durability (weatherproofing), newly upgraded 20 megapixel sensor, stabilization, literally everything else.
This was easily the lightest and best-built mirrorless camera I've ever brought on an adventure. Anything I can do to save space in an otherwise jam- packed bag is essential. The fact that this camera is 55% smaller and 64% lighter than other full-frame mirrorless camera systems makes it extremely ideal.
At 140 meters and cascading down a cliff in two different sections, Fossá is by far the tallest waterfall in the Faroe Islands. If you're lucky enough to visit during rainy season, the falls can reach 30 meters wide and walking to the base can be very wet.
As the winds picked up mini tornadoes of water that circled around us, and water powerfully poured down before us - you can imagine how much water your lens and camera body will absorb.
Coupled with weather being as brutal as it was, wearing 4 layers and being soaked to the core the E-M5 Mark III definitely got soaked more than any camera I've ever used. On par with its predecessors durability and weatherproofing, the E-M5 Mark III held up flawlessly.
Sunrise to Sunset: Shooting All Day
From insane 6-hour hikes, driving around all day, to jumping on a ferry to islands inaccessible by sea tunnel - it is easy to spend an entire day roaming. Which means, you need battery power.
I walked away with 10,000 photos post-trip and not once was the battery a problem. And this comes from a guy who used to bring 16 batteries on trips to supplement my photography obsession.
Olympus challenged me to bring one battery on a 10 day trip, that was in simple terms; exhausting. At first, it was a questionable move I feared may impact my heavy-shutter finger. On the contrary, this move lightened my bag and surprised me.
The Olympus community has been begging for this, and the E-M5 Mark III delivered. Not only is the battery life amazing, but the ability to charge via USB while driving was a game-changer, too.
The Little Things
An adventure is composed of many facets: the grand landscapes, the people you meet along the way, the food, the culture/experiences and for me, the little details we often pass without a second thought.
From a creative element standpoint, using foliage adds so much value to a photo. This requires patience from a photographer being able to step back, observe an environment from a wholesome point of view - and find the depth you need to immerse your audience. Coupled with the beautiful color science of Olympus can transform a rather mundane scene into a vibrant atmosphere.
And this is what separates a camera I would use from a camera i'm hesitant about. The dynamic range, color science and ability to capture every element I see along the way. These are all equally important to my landscapes.
The Faroe Islands are captivating for a photographer. The experience is a visual journey unlike anywhere in the world. With the lightweight, compact design of the OM-D E-M5 Mark III, I was able to break free from clunky gear and still capture detailed clear imagery.
Chris Poplawsk is a Southern California native who loves experiencing new landscapes and engaging with wildlife in their natural element. While his life's work is mainly dedicated to travel and brand photography, he also spends my time building relationships with couples and people around the world to capture their love stories.