Behind the Image: Wind Swept Waves and Basalt Beaches with Tobias Hägg
Tobias Hägg is a self taught photographer and Adobe Stock Premium Contributor who creates spellbinding aerial images. The Swedish native took to drone photography three years ago, and has quickly risen among the ranks, amassing over 100,000 followers on Instagram alone. He’s also caught the eye of lifestyle brands, and serves as the ambassador to the outdoor company Fjällräven.
His images, ranging from a shot of a single boat floating in the ocean, a mere speck in the vast waters, to sweeping views of conifer forests blanketed in snow, simultaneously evoke a sense of tranquility, while urging viewers to contemplate their place and belonging in the world.
We spoke with Tobias about one of the most personal images in his Adobe Stock portfolio, shot during his trip to Iceland.
Like many, the draw of the drone for Tobias came from the ability to capture images from an entirely new perspective. “When I was younger, I used to wonder about how things would look like from above, from the nose down,” Tobias shares. When drones finally became widely available to the public, he was able to make these childhood visions a reality.
His fascination with Iceland is just as deep-seated. “I’ve always wanted to go there, since I was basically a baby,” he jests. In particular, he wanted to visit the country’s black sand beaches. “Ever since I got a drone, I’ve been dreaming about these images – It was the only thing I really wanted to shoot.”
To make sure that he got exactly the shot he had envisioned for so long, Tobias put in the hours to plan his shots and consider all the variables. He often uses Google Earth to scout locations and visualize shots, but this time, he could not believe the colors he saw on the screen. The waters had a turquoise hue, much like the Caribbean Sea, something he did not anticipate to see near an isolated, Nordic island.
When Tobias finally made it to the black basalt beaches of Iceland, the weather was not on his side. Patience is not only a virtue, but a necessity for a landscape photographer. After hours of waiting, until nearly sunset, a hole emerged in the clouds, letting in a touch of light on to the water.
The lighting conditions may not have been ideal, but Tobias recalls the waves being “perfect,” that day, crashing heavily on to the shores, creating colors and foam that add crucial elements of texture in his photographs.
According to Tobias, the most difficult thing to master with drone photography is the placement of the drone – the correct altitude and position. He explains, “I usually don’t fly so far away, which gives me more control over the area.” It’s a well learned lesson after he once crashed a drone into a lake in the dead of winter and had to swim to retrieve the device. Through planning and precise control of his drone, Tobias is able to capture stunning and unique aerial photographs.
Though he’s realized his lifelong dream of photographing the beaches of Iceland, his fascination with the country continues to grow. “As a photographer, it felt like you could access a lot of scenic places,” he says, and he plans to return there soon on another photography excursion. Perhaps next time, with his new partner in crime – his younger brother, who just started exploring drone photography. “We shoot together, but with two different styles,” he explains, “he sees things I don’t see, and vice versa.”
See more of Tobias’s aerial work on Adobe Stock.