When visiting the website of Switzerland-based photographer Frederik van den Berg, it’s easy to be awestruck. Seeing him trek through the Alps, slide over glaciers, and have picnics on peaks farther above sea level than anyone should be, you can’t help but be inspired by Frederik’s passion for the outdoors.
Frederik reached out to Bergwelten first many years ago, when he began his career as a photographer. Bergwelten is a German publication devoted to skiing, snowboarding, and mountaineering. A typical issue of the magazine explores the best hiking routes, shares the most exciting mountaintop stories, and locates the most beautiful huts. In other words, this is a publication that fits Frederik to a T.
I was so excited to find a publication that represented everything I enjoyed photographing. I wrote them an email about who I was and what I wanted to do. A year later, they asked if I would be available to do a two-day hike for a story about a little-known mountain hut in the Appenzell region of Switzerland.
Since then, Frederik has had photographs published alongside related articles and featured in a book about the 50 nicest mountain huts in the Alps. This time he was asked to shoot the newly-opened ski touring park in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, which was in fact his first time shooting a ski touring story.
Frederik knows what visually makes viewers yearn to go outside.
I hike and ski tour a lot in my free time, which is another prerequisite when carrying a lot of gear up and down the mountain.
Crans-Montana is a popular mountain resort in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. During their three-day expedition, Frederik, writer Yvonne Ineichen, and their guide Pierre Olivier Bagnoud budgeted one and half days for shooting time.
On the first day, we skinned up through the newly opened ‘Rando Parc’ (Ski touring Park) and up to the Cabanes des Violettes. The mountain hut sits on a cliff at 2,208m with views across the valley to some of Switzerland’s most famous peaks.
An early start on the second day took us to the highest point of the resort, above the Plaine Morte Glacier. We traversed several ridges until dropping into the untouched flanks leading back down to the faraway slopes of the resort, where we were fed delicious local cuisine in one of the slope-side restaurants.
The afternoon was a little less intense, shooting portraits of our ski guide as well as embarking on a snowshoe tour to an eco-village below the slopes. The final day we refueled with breakfast and got a few last images of the village before traveling back home.
While I had a list of shots I wanted to get, they had to appear natural and engaging. We were constantly on the move, so my job was to look for opportunities where those images might happen naturally.
Always on the lookout, Frederik trailed behind the group allowing Pierre and Yvonne to ski through a wide landscape shot. In the spring of 2019, the high alpine conditions included plenty of ice, making navigating with a heavy pack of equipment less than ideal.
The biggest challenge for me was not slipping off the edge of the mountain. At that time, I didn’t have any crampons which should be used to help walk over icy terrain.
Frederik has since vowed to take less equipment or at least lighter equipment and has invested in those crampons, but that doesn’t make him any less respectful of the dangers that icy mountains hold.
I love to plan as much as possible but with the intention of letting things flow their own way. Mostly the plan is for safety on the mountain, especially to justify taking or leaving a risk to get a specific photo.
The photographs Frederik did need to capture were quite diverse. With photos required of the landscape, the accommodation, food, guides, action, and the smaller details that might be mentioned in the story, Frederik’s main goal was to put the destination on the top of the readers’ to-do lists.
The idea is to show “Sehnsuchtsorte,” which translates to something like ‘places of longing.’ There should be a sense of action and adventure while remaining accessible to the reader.
Frederik and Yvonne wove together a tale and planted an idea, one that’s intriguing, cohesive, inspiring, and sparks the readers’ imaginations.
See more of Frederik van den Berg’s work at fvdb-photography.com.
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