Nordic and Arctic nature and wildlife photographer
Norwegian Nikon Z Creator Lina Kayser was born in Bergen, known as “Gateway to the Fjords”, and now lives in the country’s spectacular Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park.
It’s home to a near intact Alpine ecosystem, from Arctic foxes, golden eagles and Europe’s last wild mountain reindeer to plant species that predate the last ice age – the perfect base for a photographer specialising in Nordic and Arctic wildlife, landscapes and conservation awareness. As well as her solo projects, Lina runs photography workshops in Norway and abroad and has been hosting ship-based expeditions to the wilderness of the Svalbard archipelago since 2018. Her partnership with Nikon began in 2017 and she became a Z Creator in 2020. Later this year she’ll be on the prestigious judging panel for the Environmental Photographer of the Year Awards.
What sparked your love of photography, and why with Nikon cameras?
I’ve loved animals and watching nature documentaries for as long as I can remember. I grew up in an outdoorsy family on the west coast of Norway in Bergen. It’s our second biggest city but you’re still very close to nature there, so we’d spend the weekends skiing or hiking with our dogs. Both my dad and my grandpa had Nikon DSLRs, so when I decided to start taking pictures of the beauty of nature I saw on our walks, I had a Nikon to borrow. When I decided to get a camera of my own, the choice was easy!
I used to work at an office but I was never happy. I stuck it out for 15 years before quitting to become a certified dog trainer, and that’s when I also started to take my photography more seriously. Then in 2017 I reached out to Nikon about a project I was doing. They invited me to do a presentation at an event in Sweden, which led to me joining the Nikon talent programme. That was a real a game-changer for me – it allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a professional wildlife photographer.
Last year I was asked to be a Nikon Z Creator, which was very exciting. It’s so motivating to be part of such an incredible group of talented people and it’s helping me to keep pushing forward with my photography. I’m very thankful to be on the team.
Why is photography so important to you?
It’s a way to disconnect from everything and just be present – I guess you could say it’s a kind of meditation. The bigger picture for me is that it’s important to use our voices in any way we can to protect nature. I do it through my photos. If someone sees an image of an owl and thinks it’s cute, perhaps they’ll be inspired to want to protect our owls and our forests. Or a shot of a polar bear could lead someone to find out more about the challenges the Arctic environment is facing.
Are you looking forward to being a judge for the Environmental Photographer of the Year?
I’m really excited about it, and I also think it’s going to be an emotional journey, seeing so many amazing and powerful images. It’s not just any photo contest. It’s a photo contest with a mission – to spread awareness around climate change, poverty, environmental issues and other challenges our planet is facing. A single shot can tell so many stories, express so many emotions and reach thousands of people – photography is such a strong medium for bringing these stories to wider attention. It’s easy to avoid reading articles with lots of numbers and facts, but when a photograph pops up in your face, it’s hard to close your eyes or look away.
Do you have any particular favourite photographs?
I love photographing Arctic foxes, puffins and polar bears, and two years ago on a Svalbard expedition I was lucky enough to encounter two curious polar bears who came pretty close to the Zodiacs we were on. Seeing them playing around and having fun on the ice edge gave me some of my favourite photos and memories.
How do you use social media to talk about your perspective on wildlife conservation?
I’ve built up 136,000 followers on Instagram from all over the world, many of them living in cities. Through my photos I try to show how wonderful nature is and how everything is connected. It’s not about raising a finger to anyone but about telling the story of the challenges nature is facing. The Arctic has a special place in my heart – I’ve visited Svalbard and northern Norway several times – and it’s heartbreaking to see how fast the climate is changing and how it affects everything from glaciers to sea ice and the animals that depend on the ice to survive. Everything is dependent on having a healthy Earth and nature, even us humans. No nature, no us.
Entries are now open for the Environmental Photographer of the Year – for details, click here