Have you ever thought of going to Lapland? And do you think of Lapland as the frozen winter wonderland home of Santa? Or do you think of it as the perfect location for a Magical Winter Northern Lights Photoshoot?
Lucy did after seeing it on my Photography Bucket List, and so she organised this Magical Winter Northern Lights Photoshoot as a surprise engagement shoot for Ben in the northern Finnish part of Lapland. She booked their stay at the Wilderness Hotel in Nellim, their activities – such as husky sledging, ice fishing and a reindeer safari – and she booked me. And off we went to this magical place.
Lapland – the place where the light is blue and the sky is green
Imagine that you wake up at your normal time, let’s say at 7am, and you look out of the window. Here, you’ll be greeted with deepest night, so deep that foxes and rabbits say good night to each other. In fact, the same will happen to you at 8am, 9am and 10am. Only towards 10.30am does some semblance of light creep along the horizon to announce the arrival of a few of the sun’s rays. It is polar night during a long stretch of the winter. The official sunrise and sunset guide almost laughingly announces that 3 days from now days will last a whole 33 minutes. Today, there will only be twilight.
The atmosphere feels a little surreal, like a dreamland mix of night and day, both battling to see which one will win, where night has the home advantage. Add to this a soft and silent covering of knee-deep snow and you end up with a world that looks blue and softly cushioned most of the time.
As you walk out of your log cabin, the snow crunches under your feet and the only thing you see is a vastness of snow, trees, the lake and the occasional reindeer footprint. There are more reindeer here than people and this adds to the magic of the place.
A 20 minute walk away is the nearest and only hotel/gift shop/restaurant, all rolled into one. The rest of the village is made up of 150 people, a Russian Orthodox church and about 40 or so houses. There is nothing else.
The hotel is where I found Lucy and Ben, and he was totally blown away that Lucy had managed to organise it all without him ever cottoning on. And then our adventure began.
A Magical Winter Northern Lights Photoshoot
After a warm meal and a chat over hot soup and crusty bread and an EPIC sledging session, we headed to the Russian Orthodox church. The walk was long and with the last rays of twilight seeping slowly away the surroundings took on a mysterious vanilla and pink look.
I loved that church. So different to any other church, but so fitting in its surroundings the church is decorated with tiny fairy lights and reindeer antlers. Just imagine getting married there!
It was getting very cold at this point, with the temperature falling to -26C at its lowest point, so the promise of an open fire and a glass of wine propelled us on our way back to the lake. There we lit a fire and drank our wine.
This was one of the weirdest things. The wine steamed coming out of the bottle, because it was SO much warmer than -26C, but it was so cold that it had crystallised and we drank tiny little shards of wine. Weird but delicious! We also shared some viscous rum. Who knew rum goes viscous in the arctic circle?
The fire warmed us and my equipment, which really struggled to work without stopping in these temperatures. We then created some gorgeous photos on the lake and by the tipi we had just warmed ourselves in.
The only thing left was to pull a few faces aaaand it was a wrap.
Magical Winter Northern Lights Photoshoot Favourites
What an extraordinary Magical Northern Lights Photoshoot! Like many destination weddings and shoots, it was the trip of a life time.
Because look at those Northern Lights! The Aurora Borealis is simply unforgettable. It’s the best fireworks display you will ever see, made by nature and very very very cold.
And I can’t wait to see it again.
And in the meantime, here are some of my favourites from our trip, including some of Ben’s Northern Lights photos. See if you can spot them. How amazing are they? Ben, you are really good (no pressure, haha) – thank you for letting me share them.
Then in turn let me know which ones are your favourites. I would love to know.