In August of 2019 I led my first landscape workshop to the Faroe Islands; a series of remote islands south of Iceland (north of Scotland) that offer some of the most rugged and beautiful sea cliffs I have been fortunate to experience and photograph. The Faroe islands archipelago is actually an autonomous country of the kingdom of Denmark. The islands cover a total area of approximately 1,400 square kilometres with a population of just 52,000 people. The climate is sub polar oceanic and such the weather is renowned as wet, windy, cloudy and cool (not what we experienced). Temperatures average above freezing because of the islands location in the Gulf Stream.
The landscape (specifically the sea cliffs) of the Faroe Islands is about as spectacular as one can imagine. Dramatic and plunging cliffs that rise sharply (at some points greater than 800 feet) out of the ocean make for a very dramatic back drop for photography.
Prospective photographic suiters should arm themselves with the knowledge that the Faroe Islands is ripe with locations and vistas you cant simply drive up to and photograph. You absolutely must be prepared to walk and/or hike; and often over some fairly uneven terrain at distances that can exceed ten or more kilometres. Additionally, many of the local land owners have now gated (due to the recent and steep rise in tourism) their properties and are charging admission to hikers and photographers. This currently unregulated practice means that there is quite a variation in entrance fees depending on where you choose to visit. Some locations are now closed to the public without a local guide. We had pre-scouted all of the locations for our workshop and as such avoided any nasty access surprises.
We had planned to schedule our daily activities around the often highly variable weather that the Faroe Islands is known for. As it turned out we experienced weather that could perhaps be said to be ‘too good’ with many warm sunny rain free days that were also mercifully low on wind. In fact, the only rain we experienced during our entire stay was our last morning as we made our way to the airport to say our farewells. I never touched my cold weather clothing the entire trip and lived in a light base layer with the occasional mid layer and light weight wind proof jacket.
Our daily itinerary for this workshop took us across several of the islands and included quite a bit of hiking to reach the best vantage points. The longest of these hikes was out to Drangarnir Arch and Tindholmur; a fairly arduous hike with a superb and highly rewarding vista. If you are planning to visit the Faroes please be aware that access to this location is now closed without a local guide.
We also visited the island of Mykines where we photographed the Atlantic Puffins that nest on the sea cliffs. I have been fortunate to photograph Atlantic Puffins at two of the best locations in the world in Iceland and was pleasantly surprised to find Mykines was just about as good as any of them. The Puffins are very approachable and one can sit quietly near the cliff edge and photograph them as they come into land with food in their mouths for their chicks. Some of us also took an option hike out to the lighthouse. Although the Puffins are quite approachable the island of Mykines is a tourist hot spot and you do have to contend with a great many day trippers also keen to attempt to photograph the puffins with their smart phones (an unfortunate reality of life these days).
Some of the other locations we visited during our workshop included Traelanipan Cliffs and Bosdalafossur Waterfall and Sørvágsvatn Lake. We also visited and photographed the iconic sea stack Trollkonufingur as well as Gasadalur and Mulafossur waterfall. We also took the ferry to the island of Kalsoy for a walk and scenic photograph of the lighthouse as well as the seal lady at Mikladur. We also visited the Islands of Kunoy, Bordoy and Vidoy and hiked the hillside for amazing views over the fjord and photographed the the Risin & Kellingin sea stacks.
Generally speaking the distances between locations in the Faroe Islands are short and the road conditions mostly excellent (although the roads are very narrow in parts). Tunnels connect some islands whereas others require ferry or car ferry access. In the case of ferry access, you absolutely must either pre-book or arrive very early (in cases where booking is not possible) to avoid disappointment. The Faroes has become very popular in recent years as a photographic destination and as such it is rare to have any of the iconic locations to yourself.
Due to my travel commitments I have not as yet had the time to process many of the landscape photographs I made during our time in the Faroes (and I am leaving for Greenland and Finland in just a few days), but I hope to share more of these beautiful islands over the coming months as time allows.
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