An Interview with Photographer Jeroen | Aurora in Iceland

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An Interview with Photographer Jeroen | Aurora in Iceland's cover picture

Fallen in love with Iceland, the country many travellers listed on their bucket list, our guest on our first interview is Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove a photographer from Belgium who found his passion for photography at the age of 10 and now set his home in Iceland the country of ice and fire for several years now. Check out what Jeroen wants to share with you about his passion for photography and the Northern Lights in Iceland with hello aurora!

Meet Jeroen, a photographer from Belgium

Meet Jeroen, a photographer from Belgium

Q: Tell us shortly about yourself

“My name is Jeroen and  I’m a 33-year old Belgian living in Iceland. I have been living in Iceland for about 4 and a half years now. My biggest passion and hobby is landscape and wildlife photography. I especially have a big interest in Arctic nature, landscapes, and animals.”

Q: How did your journey into photography started?

“I have always had some interest in photography, even as a young kid. It all started when I found an old analog Canon camera, a Canon AV-1. I was extremely fascinated by it. Shortly after that, I traveled with my parents to South Africa, where I really started exploring my interest in photography. It was such an amazing trip to photograph with all the beautiful nature and amazing wildlife around.

However, it was years later, after traveling to Iceland, when I really got hooked. After that first trip, I took a deep dive into photography.”

Landscape photograph of Iceland's nature by Jeroen

Landscape photograph of Iceland's nature by Jeroen

Q: How and why did you move to Iceland? Did it change your view of photography?

“After falling in love with Iceland as a country, I kept traveling back to it. At first, I went back a year after the first trip, then a few months after that, ... You know the drill. Eventually, I met an Icelandic woman while traveling and ended up moving here. 

Living here often feels like a privilege. It's so amazing to be able to take a 10-minute drive and be alone out in nature. I think, in that way, it has really opened up my view of photography. When you travel here, you photograph what you can during that short trip. When you live here, you can wait for the perfect conditions, on all the different locations I had scouted before. Nowadays, I spend a lot more time researching locations beforehand, which makes getting that shot so much more rewarding.”

One of the amazing picture of Northern Lights in Iceland by Jeroen.

One of the amazing picture of Northern Lights in Iceland by Jeroen.

Q: Could you tell us about the story behind this photo?

“I remember this moment very vividly. It was only a few weeks after I had moved to Iceland and the aurora forecast looked very promising. I decided to drive out to Reykjanes in search of a really dark spot. I ended up driving all the way to the south-westernmost tip of the peninsula, where the beautiful Gunnuhver geothermal area is. When I got there, I met one other photographer who had the same idea. We ended up talking for about one hour without any northern lights appearing. Then he decided to leave and, you guessed it, just ten minutes after he left the sky went from pitch dark to bright green. There I was, just waiting, all alone, and the sky just lit up like it was on fire. Until this day I have only seen such a show maybe 2 or 3 times more.”

Northern Lights over Kirkjufell at the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland.

Northern Lights over Kirkjufell at the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland.

Q: Do you have any advice for people trying to take photographs of the Northern Lights?

“I think my biggest advice would be: be patient and dress well. I've met so many people who drive out to the middle of nowhere and then give up after 30-45 minutes because they're bored of waiting or get too cold. Just dress well and wait, it can be well worth it. It's also good practice to have a good and comprehensive aurora app installed on your phone so you can keep track of current and forecasted activity.”

I think my biggest advice would be: be patient and dress well.

Q: Did and how hello aurora helped you when trying to chase aurora in Iceland?

“I often use the app to just keep track during the day how solar activity and cloud coverage is evolving. Then I can make an informed decision of whether or not it's worth it to drive out to a location in the middle of the night.

I also really recommend it for that purpose when people ask me for advice when they're traveling to Iceland. That way you get all the information in one place, with a really comprehensive and understandable explanation.”

Aurora at the plane wreck in South Iceland.

Aurora at the plane wreck in South Iceland.

Q: Where is your favorite Northern Lights location?

“I don't really have a favorite Northern Lights location as it's very difficult to predict how the aurora will be appearing. Will it be overhead, on the horizon, more towards the south and et cetera. All these things influence where I decide to head for the evening. With that said, my favorite location so far must have been the abandoned plane wreck on the south coast of Iceland. I captured an absolutely insane moment when I went there in 2013.”

Q: What is your must-bring item for the aurora hunting?

“Aside from the must-haves, such as a tripod and a camera, it's a thermos can with hot coffee ☕️!”

Aurora shaped arc over a lake in Iceland.

Aurora shaped arc over a lake in Iceland.

We thank Jeroen for the interview, his story is truly amazing and inspiring. You can follow his work on his website, Instagram and Facebook. If you need more tips on how to photograph the northern lights then don’t miss Jeroen’s detailed blog about it, there he also explained the “urban myths” of the Northern Lights!

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