Looking Closer at the Glaciers of Norway with Jan Erik Waider’s “Memento Mori”

All images by Jan Erik Waider. Used with permission.

Jan Erik Waider is known to many of us as the go-to photographer for stunning images of the Nordic landscape. We’ve previously shared two of the German landscape and advertising photographer’s sets; Arctic Silence, which has captured the moody beauty of Greenland’s summer seascapes; and Cloudscapes, which unveil the dramatic display of cloudy days in Faroe Islands. In this new body of work, however, Jan invites us to take a closer look at the patterns, forms, and curves of the glacial landscapes of Norway.

Titled Memento Mori, this personal series was taken at Nigardsbreen in Norway, one of the glacial arms of the Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier in continental Europe. Instead of capturing the big picture, as he usually does to show the grandeur of the Nordic landscape, Memento Mori zooms in on details we normally don’t encounter. Otherworldly curves, shapes, and textures in ghostly blue make up the glacial landscape, as seen and captured captured though a telephoto lens.

“This series is more of an artistic interpretation of glacier ice taken mostly at 400-500mm, since it’s sometimes simply not possible or safe to get closer. This focal length allows a totally new view on already familiar locations and topics,” Jan shared with us about Memento Mori. This new perspective proves perfect, as he finds himself constantly working with long focal lengths and landscapes lately.

“I’m really drawn to transforming landscapes, and glaciers have been my most favorite subjects lately. That’s why most of my recent series are based on ice and/or glaciers,” he adds. “The textures and the fact that every day is only a snapshot makes it really interesting. Some shapes and forms also appear to show something ominous at the right light. The brighter areas/highlights were actually lit by the evening sun and were almost invisible to the human eye. But they came to life through the editing process.

The term “memento mori” traditionally refers to the reflection on mortality and the transient nature of everything we do, see, and possess. Photography-wise, it came to be known as the Victorian practice of photographing loved ones shortly after their passing. In Jan’s work, “memento mori” can be tied to the fact that glaciers are one of the most sensitive indicators of climate change, particularly when it comes to sea level variations. We can therefore see it as a reminder of nature’s ephemeral beauty, with global warming being one of the biggest threats to these glacial landscapes.

Don’t forget to to check out Jan Erik Waider’s website and Behance portfolio to see more of his stunning photography of the Nordic landscape.