MOTHER Volume 1

The first issue of "Mother" magazine. For more information, visit


There will be nothing left but stories

Photo by Cristina Mittermeier

Photo by Cristina Mittermeier

Photo by Cristina Mittermeier



For the select handful of people that will ever have the privilege to traverse the last untouched corners of the Earth – the scientists, explorers, and of course, the nature photographers – there is a tacit agreement of awe and respect for the wild creatures that still roam, unbothered by man’s influence. Most people will never experience the chill of arctic air flapping through a tent pitched on the sea ice or see eye-to-eye with a blue whale, so the images created by nature photographers may be the closest humanity will ever come to experience the majesty and beauty of Earth. In a perfect world, there would be places where nature and animals are held sacred, where they can be truly wild, and humans only enter to feed the spirit. These untouched places would be the natural capital set aside and entrusted with sustaining life on Earth. Unfortunately, this dream is far from reality, and as a society, we are nowhere close to achieving this goal. For photographers, images become a bridge between the realm of humanity and that of nature. We build awareness and empathy to create a greater understanding and generate awareness of the responsibility of what it means to be human. Every living thing that exists now or has ever existed on this planet also lives within us. It is an ethical imperative – an urgent reminder of the inextricable link we share with all living beings on this planet. We must act as the keepers of our fellow life forms, especially after all the harm our species has inflicted upon them. The desire to share our passion comes with the urgency to ensure that all the creatures and pristine places we encounter and photograph remain the way we found them – wild. As nature photographers, we strive to present our work as a celebration of nature – a humble tribute to the life that serves as our inspiration. Storytelling and conservation fuel our passion and invigorates our commitment to journalism. Media, education, culture, and society are all steeped in the complex relationship between man and nature. But the balance has never been in favor of our planet. It is time for a cultural shift in our relationship with nature in our everyday lives. Encouraging initiatives that promote the development of human consciousness and its identity toward a respectful approach to our environment and its inhabitants is essential. An image is worth much more than a two-dimensional experience of our planet. It is a piece of our spirit and a window to our soul. With this first volume of “Mother”, we hope these images act as ambassadors for the wild and give humanity a higher sense of what is worth protecting.

Cristina Mittermeier


14 22 30

40 48 56

Below the Surface

Circle of Life


Behind the Lens Poems of the Arctic

Qimmeq Qimuttoq

64 72 80

88 96

114 120 126

Ancient Roots

Spirited Away

In the Footsteps of Legends

A Moment of Ice and Fire The Boy and the Elephant

Living Among the Bears

Waking Dreams


Tales Untold



ANTARCTICA 64°49’05”S 63°29’00”W


“Having hot tea with a shot of good whiskey afterwards is my secret”

the ship is almost invisible in the milky mist , and the air is wet and cold. Rita is sailing through a curtain of ice crystals, that is slowly becoming thicker before it turns into snow. The ship is covered in snow, and she must free it from the cold blanket of winter. Even though she can’t see ten meters in front of her, she is smiling because she is on her way to work. Her office is not in a 50-meter-tall office building with nonstop brewing coffee machines and hundreds of coworkers. Her office is 20.33 million km² in size, and as a human, she is almost alone here. She selected this office at one of the coldest places on our planet, because of her love for mother nature and her passion for sharing that love with you. While she works on deck, she sees icebergs the size of buildings pass her by, and her heart begins to pound as her sailing boat turns into the fjord. After 28 days of searching and wearing a neoprene suit, she eventually finds what she had been searching for. Just a few minutes later, her equipment weighs her down. The suit is still wet but feels like a second skin; her camera and the underwater housing weigh heavy in her hands. Her friend and skipper, who knows when it’s time to get into the water, gives her no time to get ready. It’s perfect, right here, right now, so she must go. As she enters the water, she becomes weightless, the force of gravity is weakened, and she feels like an astronaut in space. Initially, she doesn’t feel the cold rush of water, she is excited and too focused on her surroundings. She is fully aware of the territory she’s entering, while swimming into the feeding grounds of Hydrurga leptonyx – the leopard seal. She doesn’t have time to check her camera settings. All attention is on the predator in front of her. She never allows the leopard seal to get between her and the camera and doesn’t take her eyes off her. Every- thing happens so fast. She comes straight up to her, with incredible speed, then left, then right, then up, and then down. She follows her with her eyes and turns with her. “Don’t let her get between me and my camera,” she repeatedly thinks like it’s the only thing that matters. She hears the shutter-release button clicking, and it feels too loud in a world where everything is silent.

What happens next is a once-in-a-lifetime experience…



ANTARCTICA 64°49’05”S 63°29’00”W

she moves through the dark green water , with long simultaneous strokes, gliding through it soundlessly. Her body is flawless. She likes to sing – to be vocal – but now, it’s not the time for singing. Perfectly adapted to the ocean and the cold, she is hunting, patiently close to the ice edge, waiting for her prey. She likes to be alone. She wants to hunt alone. The world she lives in, the ocean, covers 70% of the surface of this planet. The water is cold, and the sun is low on the horizon. In winter, this place lies in constant darkness, with the sun not returning until August. But she never freezes because she has a layer of fat, also known as blubber. No one else can get close to her here. She has no enemies... other than the orca. It’s not just her home; 50-80% of all life on Earth calls this habitat their home. But she likes to be alone and glides through the rich, green water filled with living organisms that are almost invisible, with her body weight of 500 kg and a body almost four meters long. The ocean is everything but boring, and her reptile-shaped head is ready, always ready to catch the prey. When you see her, you know you have entered another world. She feels the ocean’s vibrations, the iceberg moving, and she knows what that means. Her whiskers help her see; even when visibility is really poor, she can sense and detect disturbances in the water. Trusting her senses, she can be the perfect hunter without perfect eyesight. She can open her powerful jaw really wide, up to 160 degrees, in seconds and close it just as fast. She shoots up and grabs the penguin who entered the water – a chick just starting to swim. She snatches him in an instant and feels the warm body in her mouth – just to let it go again. Before life even starts for him, she will end it. It’s a game; the hunt has just started. The water sounds loud now. The fast move- ment has created waves, and in a second, the ocean has become wild. The waves carry the fleeing penguin towards the ice edge. You can feel the panic emanating from his body, but before he reaches the safe ground, she shoots out from the depths underneath him. She can reach a speed of 40 km per hour if she needs to. Her grip around the penguin’s neck is tight now. She breaks it and lets his body float. The water around her starts to calm down, and she looks at the penguin surrounded by blood. There is no movement. She has eaten earlier, so this hunt was a game. One that she wants to continue, so she slows down and just floats close to the ice again to detect something new to catch. She uses the icy ocean as her fridge for a couple more penguin chicks… Nature is wild. It can be brutal, but don’t you dare judge her. She follows her instinct – her nature. She is the leopard seal.




SWEDEN 64°43’01.2”N 20°53’39.4”E


Who is Lisalove?

I’m Lisalove, a creator living on the coast in the north of Sweden. I create self-portraits and also photo-art portraits of others. I started exploring this path around 2014, mainly as a form of self-therapy and a means to channel my inner voice. Over the years, my work has evolved from a spur of the moment portrait, to become more conceptual with time spent thinking and planning the final photograph. The process of creating the image has always been an essential component of why I do this, and is often more meaningful than the final product. I find great value in remaining curious, letting fantasy flow, and exploring what lives inside me. I find inspiration everywhere and at any time, depending on the conditions, my state of mind, and my surroundings. Ultimately, I’m interested in the stages of life, interactions, and what connects us as humans.

How does your work connect to nature?

Throughout the ages, we have found inspiration in nature, sought answers to big questions, and experienced inner peace when surrounded by vegetation. Many of us find a slow walk in the forest satisfying, and renewing, and can agree on the magnificence of a sunset by the sea. For me, nature is a source of recovery and reflection, a place where I can find resonance with my inner voice and where strange thoughts just dissolve away. Nature can be captivating with its eternity, filling me with gratitude and placing my worries into perspective, making it easier to sort out noise and seeing things more clearly. Motivated by the idea that nature can mirror our thoughts and that answers to our questions can indeed be found in nature, I created an image on the theme named “Tankespegling”. Even so, nature offers a never-ending smorgasbord of shapes, textures, smells, tastes, wildlife, prosperity, and movement. Bringing my camera into nature, activates my senses to seek details and peculiarities, increasing my desire to take in the surroundings and explore. A walk in the woods can be therapeutic, both with and without my camera.



Model: Sofia Jannok

SWEDEN 64°43’01.2”N 20°53’39.4”E

Where did photography bring you?

Reflecting on the past, I am amazed at the paths my photography and art have taken me down. From the exploration of self-portraits, sometimes in challenging places, to be invited into the tales of others. Creating self-portraits, with nature as a backdrop, has made my everyday life into small adventures and sometimes pushed me to do things I would never have done otherwise. Dancing in a flowy white dress on a cliff edge towards a stormy sea in the middle of heavy snow, posing between ice shards in a lace dress in Umeälv, just to get a self-portrait. I have frozen my fingers to the point that my skin has peeled away for two weeks, I have been close to unconsciousness as I bathed in a cold sea for too long. I am all by myself, but yet never alone. Mother Earth has never been as close to me as she is during these intense moments.

Connection to others and Mother Earth

Photography is my way of connecting naturally with others. It has allowed me into the arenas of other people, capturing or conceptualizing where they are today, telling parts of their stories. Time after time, it hits me how unique each of us is, yet also similar in many ways. Trying to capture another person’s essence is simply fascinating. How life is passing on – not only within us but also around us, and between us. We are constantly in some motion and together form a giant puzzle on the foundation that connects us all – Mother Earth.



SWEDEN 64°43’01.2”N 20°53’39.4”E


​“Någon viskade att naturen speglar våra tankar i sin sanna form. Så jag besökte skogen, med en skiss i min hand. Ett ark av vad jag trodde var rätt svar. Genomförde min idé för att sedan följa med i björkarnas dans. Kom hem med ett spretigt resultat och en känsla av lugn. I urvalet reflekterade jag kring grundtanken och sorterade bort det icen- satta, komplicerade. När tankar släpps fria tillåts känslor att glöda, där lättar sinnet i svalka av stunden.”

Självporträtt, Oktober 2018

The image concept is about how nature can reflect our thoughts in their true form. One day in October, I had a conceptual image in my mind, but I also felt the urge to pause and breathe for a moment. I went to a nearby forest and tried to create this image in my sketch- book, but I couldn’t find any meaning in that, so I closed my book and instead opened my mind to new possibilities. I allowed myself to be in the moment, seeing myself dancing amongst birches, flowing, and setting my mind free and then I captured the image.

Self-portrait, October 2018






TASIILAQ 65°36’48.6”N 37°38’01.0”W


ever since i was a little kid , I have loved movies with dogs. My favorite, was “Balto” – a film about how the lead dog of a sled team, in Alaska, saved the children of an entire city by bringing the immune serum against the diphtheria epidemic through the wild nature of the north to Nome, Alaska. I always dreamed of riding a dog sled. Dogs have always been my favorite animals; their loyalty and commitment touches me profoundly. Now I have my own little sled dog at home, a Finnish Lapphund, my best friend, and my one-and-all! But my dream remained just that, nothing more than a dream. In recent years I just kept watching documentaries about the history of the Polar region and about Greenland and its sled dogs, over and over again. Qimmeq Qimuttoq – the Greenland dog is one of the oldest breeds of dogs in the world. For the Inuit, it has always been necessary for survival and is used for transport and hunting. Strength, robustness, toughness, and endurance are the qualities that this breed has been selected for. Throughout history, entire peoples have been dependent on such dogs for their very existence. Their nature has always remained primitive, and in many ways, they are a living bridge to the wilderness of the far north. They live their entire life outdoors. The Greenland dogs are very much a part of nature here, but they are neither wild, nor domesticated. In April 2022, shortly after our wedding, my husband Daniel and I were given the opportunity to go on an expedition ship to Greenland. We couldn’t believe our luck, so we postponed all our plans so we could join the expedition. From the first minute of the expedition, everything felt totally unreal and I still have that feeling in my stomach now, when I think back. We started in Reykjavik, Iceland, and sailed over the open ocean across the Denmark Strait until we finally spotted the first signs of icebergs on the horizon. The sky was in pastel colors of blue and pink, the water calm, and the first pieces of pack ice floated past us. Feelings of life and nature were so unreal, while at the same time, they were more real than anything I had experienced previously. We spent most of the night on deck watching the incredible scenery, but eventually went to bed, full of excitement for the upcoming day. The next morning, we woke up early, and far away on the horizon was a white line – GREENLAND. Our first destination was Tasiilaq, the largest city in East Greenland, with around 2,000 inhabitants. At this time of year, it is rare for ships to enter the eastern fjords of Green- land, since the pack ice is still much too dense. We were the first ship to break through the ice this year with the agreement of the people of Tasiilaq.



TASIILAQ 65°36’48.6”N 37°38’01.0”W

“Almost nowhere in the world do dogs play such a significant role as they do in Greenland”

We were standing on the deck and could see the first colorful houses in the distance. It still felt like a dream. Some Inuits were already on the ice and helped the captain and crew land the big icebreaker. It is super exciting work and certainly something you don’t see every day. But there was one thing that almost made me forget about all of this, something that caught all my attention, and brought tears of happiness to my eyes because it felt so right and so beautiful. The howling of hundreds of Greenland dogs, who were standing on the shore, happy about our arrival. Full of excitement I tried to take the first photos of the dogs with my telephoto lens. Later the same day, we went on the ice, and full of anticipation, we walked into the city. We were met by friendly and curious faces, because as exciting and unique Greenland and this beautiful village seemed to us, we and our ship were at least as interesting to the people of Tasiilaq. The colorful traditional houses, the narrow streets, the friendly people, and probably the fabulous good weather filled me immediately with joy. Greenland and the far north is a place that is said to be one of the harshest and most unforgiving on this planet. Life here can be anything but a fairytale and yet the locals spread a positive energy, a kind of energy I have never experienced or seen before. If I had been asked at that moment where I wanted to spend the rest of my life, I probably would have said “Tasiilaq!” without hesitation. After an extensive exploration of the village and its surroundings, we returned to our ship in the evening. In the meantime, half the city had gathered around the boat to watch the spectacle. Children played soccer on the ice with our crew members, even the mayor was there, and some mushers joined us with their dogs. I quickly found myself in the middle of a pack of dogs. The dogs in Tasiilaq do very well given the conditions in Greenland; they are well cared for, well fed, and treated humanely. I had secretly thought I would get the opportunity to cuddle one of the dogs a little, but I couldn’t have hoped for this – I ended up in the middle of all the dogs, they were climbing on top of me and slobbering all over my face. These animals are just overwhelming. After almost an hour of cuddling, my husband reminded me I had to eat something. Happy and at peace, we left our adventure on the ice and ended the evening onboard our ship. The next day would be a big one.



TASIILAQ 65°36’48.6”N 37°38’01.0”W

“Dogs are not just part of life for the Inuit – they are their life”

“Bonjour.” I woke up to the announcement of our French captain with a smile on my face. That day was the day. I was going to ride over the eternal ice with the Greenland dogs. Right after breakfast, as we went out, the first mushers were already waiting for us next to the ship. After a cuddly welcome, it was time. I already felt the tingling in my stomach as I sat down on the sled with my husband and our new friends from the ship. I was at least as excited as our dog team, who did not stop barking out of impatience and excitement and were already pulling hard at their tethers. The musher got in position and after a few commands to his dogs finally released the brakes. An incredible thrust went through my whole body, and before I knew it, the cold wind of the Arctic was whipping me in the face. Tears ran down my cold, almost numb cheeks – whether it was the wind or maybe a few tears of joy, I don’t know. But I do know, this was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. An absolute dream. The fact that I was riding a traditional Inuit sled with a team of Greenland dogs was at least as surreal as the majestic scenery of East Greenland that we passed. We drove deep into the fjord and stopped at the very end on the ice, here the mushers showed us how they catch fish in the winter by ice fishing. Again, I took the opportunity and spent all my time dealing with the dogs. Two of them impressed me a little extra: Pongu and Siku. Pongu reminded me very much of my dog Odin; he was a fluffy one with a very majestic charisma. Siku, had rough, black fur and was the lead dog of our team. Big, strong and calm, he had such a soothing aura. The lead dog is usually the most intelligent and experienced in the team and the musher trusts him the most. I immediately understood why it was Siku. I was lost in his deep brown eyes and could have spent hours with him. In the end, moments like these touched me the most and made this experience so special. You could feel how proud the mushers were of their dogs, and while heading back towards the ship, it was amazing to see how they worked together as one. As one being. Dogs are not just part of life for the Inuit – they are their life. Almost nowhere in the world do dogs play such a significant role as they do in Greenland. And rarely does you see man and animal work and live so closely together. A musher and his dogs have a deep understanding of each other, and when they travel out, they are like the wind caressing the ice and land they depend on. Few experiences have touched me as much as meeting the people of Tasiilaq with their sled dogs. This place, with its inhabitants and dogs, is in my heart forever.






MASAI MARA 1°25’40.3”N 35°10’25.4”E


“I have seen that nature takes life to create a new one somewhere else”

our story began in the shadows of an acacia tree . My brother and I were born under the open sky in a silent night, accompanied only by the light of the moon and stars. We grew up fast under the protection of our mother, Ishara, and were raised by her alone. Every night she told us about the pride, the group of lionesses we belong to, our aunts and the coalition, our father and our uncle. She told us about the hunt, about the growing and shrinking rivers and about the others that inhabited our lands. She told us about life, and we were naive enough to think we were ready to take it on. Her roar echoed across the grasslands, I heard it fade away towards the horizon. There was no answer. My mother raised her body, the sun was getting low, and I could feel her aura and knew that tonight was the night. We would not hear another story about our ancestors, or the other animals – tonight was the time to go. We walked through grasslands and followed a small river. The world grew bigger with every step we took. I watched my mum walk gracefully through the bush towards the land of her pride. Following in her spoor, I felt smaller and smaller with every step. Suddenly I felt the earth vibrate. I saw the pebbles on the ground jumping up and down again. I jumped around and saw a herd of giants, passing behind us, they didn’t even look at us, just kept moving forward. It looked like they were moving in slow motion, but they moved fast. Giants with huge ears and tusks, and between them were little giants. With every step, the earth vibrated and I couldn’t help but stare at them as they passed us by. That must be the elephants, that my mum had told us about. Never hunt an elephant, I could see why. We walked further and the sky was turning into insane colours: from light pink to the deepest red, yellow, and orange. I looked up while I followed my mother, and I wondered, who paints the sky? She stopped by a small rock on top of a hill. And when I reached her side, I could see them below. She laid down, her muscles tense, and she roared again to announce our presence. I hid behind her, while my brother just kept walking down the hill towards one of the lionesses. I watched as my mum raised her body gracefully but powerfully and determined. I could feel her tension, and I can feel her fear that something may happen to him. I watched my brother getting closer to the other lionesses, and behind her, I saw him, my father. Surrounded by lionesses, but his eyes were locked on my mother.



MASAI MARA 1°25’40.3”N 35°10’25.4”E

I could hear the other lions roaring. My brother was climbing on another lioness, and he seemed to have fun jumping up-and-down on her back. I turned to my mother, who was watching me and she gently pushed me towards the pride with her nose. Now was the time for me to find my place. It was time to meet my father, and his name is Olobor. His mane appeared to glow in the light of the low evening sun, moving with the wind. His eyes were now focused on me, and as I came closer and stood in front of him, I could see myself in his yellow and amber coloured eyes. He lowered his head and greeted me with a gentle stroke and a quiet snarl. Welcome to the pride Leeu.

documenting wildlife , lions, cheetahs, and the 500 bird species that call the Masai Mara their home opened my perspective to the world. Spending time here, meeting the Masai, people who understand their environment, people who still feel connected to the very earth we walk on and the life we are surrounded by. I witnessed lionesses introducing their little ones to the pride, the big family. And I watched the sunset and sunrise every day to remind myself why I was here. To protect, to learn, and to document and share that love. I drove through the savanna in search of wildlife and explored the rich world of the Masai Mara. It is filled with life and has a diverse and spectacular ecosystem. Large rivers, such as the Mara River, overflow their riverbanks during the rainy season – especially in April – when the rains can cause flooding. August, when I was there, is one of the driest months of the year, which means we could cross rivers and discover different places and then find our way to the astonishing abundance and diversity of wild cats. Lions live in a family group, the only truly social cat species. Often, the male lions are related and form a “coalition” and most of the lionesses are related and form the pride. Most of the female cubs stay with the group as they age and inherit the pride from their mother and aunts. Lionesses often come into season at the same time, mate with one of the coalition brothers and so have their young synchronously and then the lionesses raise them all in a creche. If a lioness has her litter at a time when the other females are not giving birth, then she will usually leave the pride and give birth and keep her cubs to herself for the first few weeks. Young cubs learn by playing; for us, this looks clumsy and cute, but for them, it is an essential learning process about survival skills they need in their new world. When cubs are introduced to the pride, all lionesses work together as one since they are all related. When one or more of the lionesses go hunting for the pride, another will take care of her cubs clean them and protect them like their own. While most of the female cubs remain in their natal pride, when the males reach two years of age they are forced out by their fathers and groups of brothers go off, grow strong and seek to establish new prides or take-over old ones.



MASAI MARA 1°25’40.3”N 35°10’25.4”E

Cheetahs on the other hand live a solitary life. The mother is alone, she does not have the support of relatives or the protection of males and that makes her life more complicated. When she needs to hunt, she must leave her cubs hidden by themselves and they are vulnerable to other animals. When enemies, like hyaenas or lions, approach a mother, then she will try to move her cubs out of the way or be forced to stand her ground. On her own, she could easily out-run them, the cheetah is the fastest known land mammal, but as a mother, her primary objective is always to protect her little ones. Sadly, The sad fact is that 90% of the cheetah cubs die in the first three months of life and 50% of those are lost to predators. In 2021, I decided to visit the Masai Mara and on my first day there I had the best gift that nature could give me, a mother with four cheetah cubs. I had never seen a cheetah cub until that moment. I fell in love with the continent and its animals on my first trip to Africa and the cheetah fascinated me the most. I couldn’t stop looking at those babies with their big curious eyes and punky manes. When we arrived, they were eating a freshly killed gazelle. After the feast, the cubs rolled and played around while their mother was resting in the shade of a tree. Two of the cubs came up to her looking for some love. She caressed and licked them. Is there anything more meaningful and heartwarming than a mother’s love? Documenting the wild, we often think of them as killers, wild animals, and hunters – but I have met mothers, children, and proud fathers, and I have seen kindness and love. I have seen that nature takes life to create a new one somewhere else. It’s like the Mara River, it can give life by nursing every animal and it can take life with it’s natural strength and power. We all are part of the circle of life.




BORNEO RAINFOREST 0°57’42.8”N 114°33’17.3”E


“Choose the tough path rather than the easy one. If the tough one leads to a happier, fulfilled life with purpose”

” miss lisa , miss lisa , orangutan ! ” I woke up in a heartbeat, I was lying on the hard wooden floor of our cabin in the Borneo rainforest, and now I was awake and full of excitment about the day. I had spent two weeks in the heart of southern Borneo with the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Indonesia team, documenting how they were analyzing the habits and movements of the orangutan. However, the favourite fruits of these primates were all gone, and the primates had migrated further north, and I had almost given up any hope of seeing them. In the meantime, I had been shooting snakes, frogs, and spiders during the night with my camera. Gliding slowly and silently along one of the many rivers, using only a headlamp to discover the abundance and diversity of wildlife that are active during the night. Again, the walkie-talkie we used to communicate with each other, blared out my name. I quickly got up, removed the insect net that protected me against the poisonous spiders during the night, and checked that no snakes had moved into my shoes. I grabbed my camera gear and headed out, meeting the day team, who were to bring me to the spot where the night team had encountered the orangutans. The jungle was still dark, but the morning calls of the Gibbons from afar told us that the sun was on its way up. The rainy season had left its marks, significant parts of the rainforest were still drenched and areas were waist-deep in water, turning the whole forest into a swamp. I replaced my rubber boots with knee-high socks and sneakers since often I would sink into the muddy ground so the water would creep up to my waist, forcing me to carry my camera gear above my head. Even though it was still early morning, the high humidity with a temperature close to +30 °C degrees made the hike through the swamp slow and exhausting. But that didn’t bother me because I was finally on the expedition I had been planning, for such a long time. My objective was to document the hardships that the orangutan population was facing, while their habitat was shrinking at an alarming rate due to deforestation. Beams of sunlight were already playing light on the tall ancient trees when my colleague, one of the rangers of WWF, lifted his hand, signaling me to stop. As soon as I stopped, the aggressive mosquitos started attacking every inch of my body but this didn’t bother me anymore. Because there they were; a mother with her four-year-old baby. Everyone of us held our breath, waiting to see what their reaction would be to our presence. Would they let us stay in their space for a while, or would the mother aggressively show us the way out from her temporary home?



Squirrel monkey, Costa Rica

Sulawesi crested macaque, Sulawesi

BORNEO RAINFOREST 0°57’42.8”N 114°33’17.3”E

We sat down slowly, and I set up my tripod, watching the orangutan mother all the time as she was shaking some branches. This was her way of telling us that we should not come any closer but she would tolerate us at a distance. A message we humbly accepted. On the other hand, the baby was playful and threw itself around the branches, showing us all its climbing skills and courageously swinging itself above our heads. The name “orangutan” comes from the Indonesian word “orang hutan” which means ”forest person”. Orangutans live amongst the tall treetops and travel around 8 km each day in search of the best fruits before they build a nest to rest for the night. They spend most of their lives swinging through the forest canopy and need vast stretches of forest to find sufficient food. The babies stay with their mother until they reach the age of about seven years. They spend all their time with her, learning everything they need to know to survive. Since the babies stay with the mother for such a long time, orangutans only give birth around every 7-9 years. That is the longest birth interval of any land-living mammal, and this low reproductive rate and long generation time is one of the reasons the world population is decreasing. According to the WWF, deforestation and hunting are the biggest threats to orangutans. In Borneo, they estaimate that around 220,000 sq km of forest will be lost between 2010 and 2030 – that’s almost 30% of its total land area or over the size of the entire United Kingdom. This is mainly through the invasion of agriculture and infrastructure. Forest fires are also becoming more frequent and these result from an interaction between farming of oil palms and climate change where the dry season is becoming longer. They estimate that over 100,000 Bornean orangutans were lost between 1999 and 2015. While we sat with our mother orangutan, the choir of insects played their symphony and the sweat just poured down my back. I let the camera fire off shot after shot during the few magical hours I spent with the little orangutan family in the humid rainforest. We stayed until they decided to continue their journey, away from us towards the fruits and shelter. I had to pinch myself in gratitude for a job that gave me such magical moments. Never in my wildest fantasy could I have imagined that I would travel into the heart of the rainforests of Borneo, working with nature conservation, meeting such an amazing species. For me, it all started in 2013 after I had finished my nature conservation studies and I had recently discovered the joy of photography. I had long known that something had to be done to protect our species. When I got my first camera, I just knew what I could do for nature. By combining my passion for nature with photography, I wanted to inspire people around me to care more for our nature through what I experienced on my expeditions. Since my encounter with the orangutans on Borneo, I have had the great pleasure of documenting nature in remote places of the world. I have seen magical places with such beauty, amazing species and diversity I didn’t even know excisted. And never has it felt more important to show what I see on my expeditions, through my lens.

The old orangutan female was rescued from a forest fire caused by illegal farming and is now living in a conservation centre. She is too traumatised to ever return to wild.





CLOSE TO THE NORTH POLE 86°58’09.4”N 4°37’50.7”E


“It is people who drive science – to chase the unknowns and to find their absolutes. No matter the cost.”

not knowing what awaited me , I went to the North Pole. It was May 2020, and after holding my breath, wondering if the pandemic would take away the chance to go to the Arctic, we were finally on our way. Waiting for me was an international team of scientists aboard the German Research Icebreaker, R/V Polarstern, halfway through its yearlong campaign to observe the Arctic Climate System across the Central Arctic. Their goal is to understand the complex connections and linkages between the atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean – how life and biogeochemical processes circulate through the ecosystem. The treasure trove of data they would collect would be one of the most significant continuous observations of the Central Arctic ever archived, so we may know the Arctic and its future. While onboard R/V Polarstern, I witnessed what it takes to do research with some of the most passionate people I have ever met. I saw what it takes to labor in the cold, to build roads, and then to transport and install tonnes of instruments onto the sea ice. The countless sleepless hours that are needed to ensure experiments run properly and instruments remain up and running, even under the devastating harsh polar conditions, to the quick-thinking solutions from the research team when ice would break up around them. Care was needed at every step to ensure the equipment would not be lost to the ice or the occasional polar bear. But what was waiting for me was an opportunity to answer the question of what makes a compelling story for the sake of the polar research community and the Arctic. The poem below is dedicated to what I was able to bear witness to onboard R/V Polarstern. I also bore witness to the life of the polar researchers, the spark in their eyes, and what drives them to continue this work, even when the future of the Arctic is rapidly changing. These are the things rarely seen by the public or unveiled in between-the-lines of journals and papers about arctic climate science. To truly honor the stories of the polar research community and the Arctic is about being fully present and witnessing what it takes to do this work. The experiences of those who navigate these places and understand the system are only one piece of the more extraordinary arctic story. Sharing the humanizing nature of science creates deeper connections and brings in a different perspective to that when we are looking at numbers in data sets or charts and diagrams. Days when it was imperative to fix an instrument while it was so cold that exposed skin could blister from brutal temperatures. Days when rescuing equipment from areas where the sea ice cracked and formed leads are all moments captured in numbers.

Numbers that will tell us what the Arctic will become in the future.




In early mornings with your coffee, going up to the Bridge, smiling ear-to-ear for a new day out on the sea ice

Looking out in the distance, carefully watching, and protecting us from polar bears and the Arctic’s unforgiving conditions Taking gloves off in cold weather to fix an instrument, rolling up your sleeves, and getting wet and cold for the sake of data

Using all your senses to understand the world around you. Tasting sea ice to determine if it came from snowmelt or the sea

Taking in the splendor of this place you have dedicated your life’s work. Being fully present in its beauty, fierceness, and fragility Creative solutions in hand, retrieving instruments that blow away or drift off with the ice. Always a Plan B

Pulling pulkas across uneven terrain, stacked with gear, delivering instruments to your research site

Counting on your fingers to determine how much sleep you might have after a long night of experiments and day work just hours away Pausing in your work to appreciate the small things. Peering over the ice edge to see the water below, listening to the sounds of crackling sea ice Bringing chocolates or bread rolls out onto the ice for the person who skipped lunch today so they can stay out and continue the work Making birthday cards, little notes, and sometimes cake to make someone’s birthday special when we’re far from home Exhausted. Broken. Digging deep within yourself to continue the work you must do, what it takes to get a number Your resilience and passion that has brought you here. Hours and hours of studying, of research, of imagining the radical possibilities

Heartfelt hugs goodbye and tears in our eyes, gratitude for what we’ve accomplished together and the memories of a lifetime

A glint in your eye – pride and joy. The work is not over. Ready to explore data and understand a place so brilliant and complex






SWEDEN 59°11’57.9”N 17°49’32.9”E


“The whisper from the trees”

the forest has more shadows , lights, and colors than anything else. When the leaves of the birch trees gracefully fly through the crisp autumn air, the ground beneath our feet becomes a beautiful pallet of seasons. Moss and weed… winter is around the corner. It is breathtaking. You just have to see it. Synergy between mind, sounds and sights, and fresh, ice-cold air make thoughts crystal clear. This is what it is about. I am convinced that the saga of the forest is about so much more than preservation and carbon dioxide.

It is about you and me in the past, and another hundred years.

“The whisper from the trees” was the name of my first gallery exhibition. This reflected on the combination of ancient stories, that were born in the primeval forests, and will never leave their home unless they are forgotten. Our duty is to preserve these stories and to never forget what is truly important.

It is as if the trees are whispering. Never forget. Never forget.

The sagas of the past made my heart beat strongly. I had to do something with it. You will be cursed, hunted, or taken if you do not care for these precious habitats. Like it was something we needed for our survival. The lungs of the planet. Our ancestors were right; we need it. My inside was somehow reflected in my imagery. It turned out to be stories from my own lessons of life. Creatures protecting the waters and the trees became a story about my life, breakups, death, and love. Surreal images flashed before my eyes, and I knew I needed to remake them with photography to be able to process everything. I saw myself trapped in the urban concrete cage. The foggy, dreamy days that just pass us by. The longing for escape. Flowers left in the wind with the souls of the ones we miss and will never see again. The strong wind hits the last drops of love from my heart. The glimpse of light makes me take that brave first step and try again. The forest became my canvas, or it was using me to tell its story.

Either way, I will never leave its side.





KIRKJUFELL 64°56’30.1”N 23°18’24.8”W


“Silence... I feel the energy from the ground through my thick boots and with every breath the feeling gets stronger”

she is around 4.54 billion years old , and she is going through her own evolution. She gives you shelter, rivers of freshwater, food and simply life. She is in you, she is in me. She is our mother nature, sometimes called Mother Earth. And she controls the elements and everything around you. The vast glaciers, massive craters, lava fields, endless plains, beautiful highlands, and the bubbling hot springs. The power of the elements – earth, fire, water, ice, and air can be felt everywhere here. The dry snow is crunching under my boots, every step requires strength in the cold and clear air. Everything I hear is my steps and the sounds of my heavy breathing, carried away by the wind. The path I am walking is slippery, a thin layer of ice is covering the earth and I move slowly forward and up the mountain. Looking away from my boots I see the end of my path, I feel my heart beating, the wide view over the magical mountain “Kirkjufell” is waiting for me. A mountain born out of fire, shaped by ice and time. They say this place belongs to the most vital energy fields in the world. Standing on its top, I am breathless, surrounded by nature grander than anything I have ever seen, my focus is shifting. I can feel my legs from the hike and the energy entering my body through my thick boots. The tingling starts in my feet and then travels up my body to the top of my head. This is the most sacred place I have ever visited, and it is not built by humans in the shape of churches or temples. Iceland woke me up... not loudly but quietly. It is not the first time I find myself watching mother nature in the land of ice and fire. I stood next to volcanos spitting out lava, feeling the heat on my face while taking pictures, I saw glaciers cracking and falling apart, and I chose this place for one of the most important days of my life, when I said “Yes, I do”. It is difficult, or even impossible, to catch the energy of this place in a photograph. It changed me... or awoke parts of me that were always there but overshadowed by the noise of everyday life. It is now an essential part of me. Out here, I feel connected and part of something bigger.

It is like being recharged. Can you feel it?



Photo: Maria & Linda



KALAW / MYANMAR 20°43’52.7”N 96°29’55.0”E


“That’s why contact with animals is a sacred thing, because they know something we don’t” – Ursula Leguin

she was 55 years old , her skin wrinkled with age and scarred from years of hard work. She walked slowly, and this time, there was no bullhook to prod her; her pace was her own in the midst of the gently swaying trees. The smell of sugarcane and bananas drifted on the breeze, and she breathed deeply as she and her friend moved toward the river. His feet were smooth and sure, and his small body balanced lightly on her shoulders, moving slightly with the rhythm of her steps. Their shadow showed them as one connected being, idly ambling toward the cool shade of the valley in the warm midday sun. As they approached the river, the smell of green weeds and damp grass and the cheerful bubbling sound of the water invited them deeper into the glade. She lowered her trunk to brush the surface of the water, lazy in its meandering path. Slowly, she waded into a deep pool, lowering her body until her friend could step onto the smooth stones of the river bank. He bathed her face and her back, splashing water over her dry, dusty skin. She soaked in the deliciousness of the moment. The ache of her bones and the sting of her scars washed away. The many years of toiling to drag felled trees from the forest faded far into the past. She was free again, playing with her friend. She sprayed him with water and he laughed. She knew why humans needed her; her species could move thousands of tons of timber each year in Myanmar, harvested from the largest expanse of tropical forest in mainland Southeast Asia. If humans used machines for this work instead, they would destroy this habitat even faster and kill all of the trees in their path, as well as the small plants and animals around them. Only elephants could do this job without harming the surrounding environment. Her parents had done this work, and her grandparents before them. But sometimes the work was too taxing on the elephants’ bodies, and their human working companions too punitive and demanding. Her friend had come along when her tired limbs could no longer haul timber as quickly and nimbly as before. She hadn’t trusted him at first; it had taken time for her to realize that not all humans meant hard work. But the young boy’s hands were gentle, and the bullhook she’d become accustomed to was nowhere to be seen. Slowly, her heart had opened to the boy, and he had come to trust her in return. The river sang its ancient song, and the trees whispered their soft lullabies. The friends played in this paradise that was made just for them, and for this moment, and for the millions before and after. The clouds floated lazily in the sky, and the sun danced and winked through the leaves. There was harmony, and all was as it should be.



KALAW / MYANMAR 20°43’52.7”N 96°29’55.0”E

“A dog comes to you and lives with you in your own house, but you do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the trees, or the laws which pertain to them…A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing.” - Mary Oliver

humans have a natural curiosity about the relationships that can be built with animals. The possibility draws many of us in from childhood; we read countless story books and fables about friendships with animals, and we long for that connection. The stories, written by adults who have maintained that same longing, depict a world where close interactions with other species are a part of everyday life. Many of us feel that instinct to connect with animals, even those of us who live far removed from nature; perhaps it is why we invite pets into our homes. Others live near nature and wild animals, and forge relationships and partnerships of a different kind. Sometimes our human-animal relationships are beautiful friendships, but sometimes, like some human relationships, they can be built on control instead of trust and respect. Sensitive, intelligent, and loving, elephants are one of the animals at the center of our society’s questioning of the purpose of our non-human counterparts on this planet. They have not only led us to wonder about the bonds that might be forged with such captivating animals, but they have also become a symbol of what we stand to lose should we destroy nature or wildlife. The strength of the relationships that can exist between humans and elephants is undeniable. These relationships have been fostered for generations in several countries including Myanmar, with elephants at the center of industries, religious ceremonies, and other activities involving them as laborers or participants. Some, but not all, of these relationships are based on mutual respect and good treatment. In relationships where animals are utilized to serve a human purpose, whether they are working relationships or pet-owner relationships, it can be challenging to foster a sense of equality and mutual respect instead of ownership and control. If we want to truly know animals, it might be worth reflecting on the possibility of a more balanced relationship dynamic. A relationship with an animal is a powerful thing. Many of us are disconnected from nature and the physical world, from each other, and from our sense of what it means to be alive as animals ourselves on this planet. Animals can be our greatest allies, bringing us closer to both the wildness of the earth and to our own sense of humanity. Just like when we try to tame nature, when we claim ownership and control of an animal, we lose the opportunity to learn and grow in a deeper and more grounding way. A loving relationship with an animal can teach us something valuable about the world – and if we are attentive enough, about ourselves.



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