Whilst it’s not the first time it’s been done, to our knowledge Chris Burkard was the first to nail it back in the spring in Iceland, and a few of us Northern European photogs have been trying to get it happening for a while shooting surfing under the Northern Lights is still a photographic feat to be proud of. Can’t wait to see the full version of the film.
While his world tour peers are jockying for waves and points on the North Shore, Mick Fanning is standing on a desolate beach in Norway, the sky ready to open up and dump snow. “I don’t think I’m well,” he says. “I can go anywhere in the world. Boardshorts, whatever. But no, I come here.”
He’s not complaining. He’s actually in awe.
A couple weeks before, Fanning decided he wanted to surf under the famed Northern Lights. It would be a dramatic way to cap off a year spent mostly away from contests, chasing new waves in farflung places.
The proposal came to him through Norwegian photographers Emil Sollie and Mats Grimsæth, who’d been talking for two years about, and trying to figure out how to pull off, shooting surfing under the planet’s greatest light show.
“To shoot a picture of surfing under the Northern Lights, there are so many elements that have to come together at the same time,” explains Sollie. “Technically, this is one of the hardest pictures to capture.”
Sollie and Grimsæth first met in Portugal in 2014, and began scheming about the shoot right away. They just needed a talented – and, more importantly, willing – surfer to get onboard. “I could never imagine that we were going to do this project with Mick,” Grimsæth says. “Suddenly, I’m going to Lofoten with a world champion.”
After a couple of days and nights waiting for the lights to appear, around midnight on the third day the shoot was finally, suddenly on. “You can imagine,” says Fanning. “Half asleep, jumping in a wetsuit, and then just being wowed by all this stuff. It’s something I’ll remember forever.”
Joining Sollie and Grimsæth on this revolutionary project was Red Bull’s veteran surf photographer, Trevor Moran, and filmer, Matt Kleiner, who will be bringing you the whole trip in two episodes of Chasing the Shot early next year.