Interview with Orsolya Haarberg – Landscape Photography in focus

Interview with Orsolya Haarberg – Landscape Photography in focus

The greatness of wild landscapes has always been captivating me. Open scenes, where the Earth meets the sky on the horizon, are places where I love to be, searching for topics to photograph.


Orsolya Haarberg is an incredibly talented landscape photographer from Hungary, graduated as landscape architect. She and her partner, Erlend Haarberg, work together in the field on assignments and personal projects more than six months a year. Their work hasbeen widely published, in the most outstanding magazines and books, they are lecturers at the largest photographic festivals and events, and they are multiple prize winners at the most relevant nature and wildlife photo competitions.

* Orsolya, when this adventure started? How did you first get into nature / nature photography?

My mother bought a used camera equipment for me at the age of 18. Before that, I never had a camera in my hand, although I loved drawing and painting. As soon as I got the camera I was hooked.

Otherwise I am a landscape architect by training, and I was just about to defend my PhD thesis in wildlife management when I met my husband, Erlend. This happened 14 years ago. At that time I was a passionate hobby photographer, but with Erlend in Norway, the possibility of becoming a professional has opened up for me. I dropped my PhD studies, moved from Hungary to Norway and have been working as a freelance nature photographer since.

* What you enjoy the most about nature photography?

When I do nature photography, I feel that I do what I want and what I am supposed to do. It gives meaning to my life. 

* What inspire you? Where do you get your creative inspiration?
I am fascinated by nature: it’s power, beauty, harmony and silence. When I am out there, I seek to experience these qualities, assimilate the rhythms of nature and find inner peace. For my photography, I am searching for unseen or surprising scenes in nature that makes me stop. Such discoveries give me inspiration to delve deep into a subject and continue exploring. 
* Why landscape photography? What it allow you to express?

I like to photograph scenes (mainly colors, forms, patterns, structures) that occur in nature without my interference. This means that I do not use artificial light, neither bait animal subjects. In addition, I work mostly in wilderness areas in the Nordic countries where you very rarely encounter wildlife that ignore the presence of humans. Therefore, the most accessible subjects for my photography are landscapes. However, when I come accross bold wildlife in the wild, I immediately realize that it is the element that can raise my landscape images to a whole new level. 

I am looking for balance and stillness in surprising scenes nature provides. I like the challenge of finding and capturing this captivating stillness and I guess this is my major driving force in doing nature photog

*Why do you think landscape photography is more frequent in adults rather than young photographers?

I think that landscape photography is seldom among both adult and young photographers and this is largely due to lack of special interest. Even if you have the interest, landscape photography involves a lot of challenges. First of all, it is a very time consuming activity. In addition, you need to have a unique vision to capture a sense of a place, with the help of light, colour and composition. I assume that very few photographers have the time and the skills to succeedin this field at a young age.


Frequently we see in your images abstract topics…what they allow you to express?

Photographing abstract patterns, you provide little or no point of reference within the frame of the image. For me, it makes it possible to simplify a complex scene, and for the viewers, it gives a larger freedom to interpret what they see.

 * What is necessary to become a successful landscape photographer?
Passionate approach, good ideas and vision, patience and diligence will make you a good landscape photographer, and if you are lucky and your work gets discovered, you might be able to make a living. However, as in almost every other businesses, good self confidence, outstanding communication skills and marketing abilities are also essential to make you successful – if you measure success in money.
* What is a “perfect” landscape image for you?

The ones that surprise and fascinate me even after several look. 

* What are the main difficulties faced by a landscape photographer?

Find new places, subjects and photographic approaches that have not become cliches yet.

* Lapland, Norway, Iceland…what these “north” locations bring you and your pictures?

Wilderness, good light, dramatic weather conditions and simplicity.

*Could you choose one/two of your favorite’s images and could you explain the background story behind it?
Hverir: I was thrilled when one whiteout coincided with a full moon. I picked a spot where I could watch the pale orb rising behind the volcano and arrived early. The snow had laced the slopes of the volcano with delicate patterns and the surface of Lake Myvatn had frozen. In some places, the ice was so thin that water had seeped through hairline cracks and begun to capture the windblown snow. Soon, broad white stripes had formed.
Skallelv: The landscape on the Varanger-peninsula can be really uneventful, although it has a very interesting geology on the north side. I like to travel here in winter, not because of the landscape, but because of the weather. When it is cold, the waves freeze in the ebb-and-flow, and the snow clouds lit up by the low winter Sun brings life to the flat winter landscape. This is an image where everything came together in a moment: the approaching snow storm, sunset, high tide and the ice pattern in the ebb and flow.  On the other hand, it is a very simple picture, it contains nothing else but H2O in its three forms: ice, water and vapour…
* What would recommend to young nature photographers?

There are a lot of factors that plays a role in whether you will succeed. This is not an ordinary job that is waiting for you after graduation. If you have the talent, the interest, the passion and the diligance, you will undoubtedly grow as a nature photographer, but keep it as a hobby in the beginning. You can start to consider becoming a professional once you feel you can earn part of your living either through image sale and assignmentsor as a photo instructor. These are two very different ways of earning your living as a nature photographer that few professionals can balance properly, often at the cost of their personal work. 

* What is your next adventure? Next dream?

I continue working in Scandinavia. After our third story in National Geographic magazine, we considered starting to explore areas outside Europe, but we put the idea out of our head for the moment. On one hand we love the Nordic countries and we still find a lot to do here. On the other hand, in these days of threathening climate change, it does not feel right to travel arond the Planet year round and inspire other to do the same… Regarding dreams, in the last years I have been fortunate living my dreams and it hasn’t ended yet 🙂

Thanks so much Orsolya for your time and your generosity. We wish you all success in your future endeavors.

Don’t miss out the chance to get inspired by Orsolya photographs at:


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