Finding your way…

Words & Images Gunnar Freyr Gunnarsson-

I get an undefinable feeling when seeing something utterly breathtaking for the first time. My mind is blown away, and there is no way of replicating this feeling by revisiting the exact same place again. This happens frequently in Iceland, even this day today, but as time passes, you have to search further and further for this type of experience. Often the change of colors and seasons do their magic to an extent, but there is nothing like that grand feeling you get the first time.

The desire to be free (like a bird) is something that has followed me throughout the past couple of years. Throughout my entire life, I always sought to make the safe choices and doing the right thing. That included things like choice of education and job. But after a while working in a corporate job where I often had to ignore my inner voice and suppress the stress signals my body was sending me – I realized that it was time to make some changes. This led me to quit my corporate job in Denmark, sell all of my belongings and buy a one-way ticket to Iceland to seek out my Icelandic roots and live the dream as an adventure photographer. It has taken me some time to get to where I am today, but what has been a continued driver is my passion for exploring this incredible country, the never-ending need to create a better photograph and to keep on building my skills as a person and creator. There are a lot of ups and down along the way, but the ability to be out there and live the dream of travel and adventure easily makes it all worth it.

Listening to your inner voice is one of the most important things you can do and maintain your focus. When I first started on Instagram, nobody in my closest circle believed in or understood what I was doing – but the positive examples set by other adventure photographers and their inspiring stories helped me believe that it actually was possible. Surrounding yourself with inspiring and creative people is surely one of the best things you can do in terms of removing those limitations that we tend to put on ourselves – either due to fear or lack of awareness of the fact that it’s is possible to do things differently and live life outside of the 9-5 schedule.

There is something very peaceful and calming about these waves. Looking back at some of these photos, I can almost hear the ocean roaring and smell the fresh salty air. It’s a nice way to unwind sometimes when things get a little too crazy.Home is where the heart is. It’s amazing how you can find such a feeling of belonging in place that looks like being on another planet. I can’t get enough of these lonely houses found around the country. I’m intrigued by the story they silently tell – and by their peculiar yet somehow simple beauty.

One of the most amazing things about this rugged little island is there always is something new to discover. Like the other day when I stumbled upon a highland road on Reykjanes – where for one hour, I felt like I was on an entirely different planet.

Wanderlust is about heading out into new adventures, exploring new places and finding parts of ourselves that we didn’t know existed. But it stretches to more than just getting out there. It’s the process of researching and finding news places to explore, planning your adventures, figuring things out – and every so often, it’s what gets us through a day full of obligations and commitments. And even if we try to plan as much as we can ahead, there is nothing that fully can prepare us for the unexpected things that we find along the way – something bigger and more amazing than what we could have imagined – and it’s what keeps us hungry for the next adventure.

New perspective: Living in the hustle and bustle of a city makes it easy to forget how powerful nature really is. When we loose sight of the elements that are so vital to our existence here, we often loose balance and don’t get the right reference point. I love getting out there in the wilderness to remind myself where I, as a human, am in this world and how grateful I am for Mother Nature, bringing these incredible sights to us.

It’s no surprise why people decide to travel from all around the world to visit Iceland – and every day I am grateful for being able to live in a country with countless natural pearls and where adventure is luring around every corner. It’s a dream come true being able to visit remote places like this on a regular basis – and I know that many people, just like me, find it incredibly difficult to be away from this wild landscape for too long. Iceland does something to you, for better or worse, and once you’ve first experienced it, there is no going back.

Winter: That winter light… I’ve spent most of the day outside in what seemed like one long sunset. It’s incredible to imagine that the day now only is about 6 hours long. People keep asking me if it isn’t difficult to cope with this shortness, but I’ll repeat my answer; the light is less but the quality is so much more. Not only do you have this beautiful glow most of the day, but you also appreciate the light in a different way when you know it will be gone in just a few hours.


© all pictures with kind permission Gunnar Freyr Gunnarsson

Finding the way: Don’t worry about failures, instead worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try. Break the rules, even when its uncomfortable, if that’s what it takes to do the things you believe in and gets you closer to living your dream… As tough as it sometimes seems, I try to remind myself about this whenever I can. Bombarded by input from our surroundings, opinions, advice, praise, judgement and basically everything in between – it can at times be difficult to navigate in a manner that is true to our hearts. Those days, it can be good to slow down and just close the eyes for a moment and let the heart be your compass.

More about Gunnar and his Iceland experiences here and here. Take good care dear readers and have an inspiring week! Melanie Kettner


the power of a wave

Words & Images Matthew Leonard-

Growing up in a city in England I visioned the sea in a different way to which I do now. Back then I saw it as a non-inviting, closed-up and dark place. It was somewhere I’d rarely venture into, either out of fear of the depths, currents or the cold. My connection with the sea back then was at a distance. It was something I loved to visit and photograph, but rarely enter. Working in London I never got to see the sun set by the sea, or hang out on the beach with friends. Everything was urban, yet I was desperate to be in the country where I loved to take photos the most.

After moving to Australia, the sea opened up to me. It’s colours, warmth and wildlife draw you in. The surf culture here encourages people to respect the ocean but to enjoy it also. It teaches you the power, danger and fun of the waves. Before surfing I was unaware of the power of the sea. From the shore, it would appear you just fall into the wave and emerge straight out the other side as easily as you entered it. But in reality, your body is tossed around like rag doll. Arms and legs flung uncontrollably. I’ve had my heel bend back and hit my head just from the power of the white water. With all this in mind you’re constantly aware of potential rocks and sandbanks you might crash into. You try to protect your head with your hands, if the wave lets you. Time slows whilst you’re under the water and a sense of loneliness hits you as you get swallowed up. To me, the power of a wave is one of the reasons I surf. Feeling the power of a wave push you through the air whilst your board glides and carves its way through the water is a sensation known only by those who surf. It’s the sensation that keeps all surfers coming back to the waves.

After I began surfing it was only a matter of time before I began photographing it. I have always been obsessed with surf and underwater photography. The only consistent thing with the sea is that it is forever changing, and therefore no picture is ever the same. Combining this with the artistic flare of a surfer is what draws me in. As a photographer I am not after the perfect surf technique, or a manoeuvre that would score a 10/10 on a judging panel. I’m after a picture that captures emotion, energy, patterns and colour.

For me, living by the sea is a way of stepping away from the daily routines myself and so many other people are used to. It was about escaping the big city and the 9 to 5 and changing it for a life that has more freedom. I wanted a life that focused less on how much time you spend in the office and more on the time you spend outdoors with your friends. Back in London, I had to dedicate one weekend to seeing my mates and the next for escaping and spending time in the country. Where as here, I can do both nearly every day of the week.

So yeah, I guess that’s what living by the sea means to me, more time outdoors doing the things you love with the people you love. And I think this is the same for most people that live by the sea, which is why everyone seems to get along so well, because we all share the same passions and interests. Where I am, everyone surfs and skates, and you can feel that connection when you meet someone for the first time. Where as in London everyone is trying to be different and unique which can be tiresome. Maybe that’s why so many people in London feel lonely, but I’m not sure.

© all pictures Matthew Leonard with kind permission

More about Matt’s stunning captures here.

An inspiring weekend dear readers! Take care! Melanie Kettner

time is a weird thing-

Words & Images: Caleb Gaskins-

I’ve realized that some of life’s sweetest and truest gifts are found in the routines and normalities of the day. It is in the sitting down (whether I want to or not) and getting to work that I find inspiration does come. It is noticing that my morning cup of coffee taste better when I read a book. It’s getting excited for some leftovers as long as I can put a little Sriracha on it. It’s those familiar laughs and voices that are part of my daily mix, but it is also realizing that every time I don’t get what I want I am pulled back from my habitual need to be self-centered. It is the doubt that is coupled with envy that I am not yet who I want to be but also knowing I never will be. And it is in the complexities of love that I realize how well I have disguised my ego.

Some of these may seem like really shitty things to confront, and honestly they are – who wants to admit their shortcomings, their mistakes, who wants to remember a painful past, their flaws and failures? I’m a slow learner – I always have been. But thats probably the reason why I have come to know more of myself in the routines of life however beautiful and ugly it may be. Over time I can spot the patterns in my reactions to different situations, idiosyncrasies, and people. How very true it is that no one can heal from anything if we do not acknowledge what is there to begin with and how very hard it is to see when our eyes have not adapted well enough to see what has always been revealed in the light, or for that matter, the dark. We must discover and learn to accept who we are and continue to pursue a love of self and a love of others from an honest place that grows ever deeper into the mystery of itself.

Time is a weird thing. From a distance it feels like you’ve always had room to breathe, but from up close it can seem like there is a lack of air, and sometimes you realize that there is no difference between the two and that it’s always been the same. I think that’s the best spot to be in – living in the moment.

I heard the other day that brain scientists have now proven that positive thoughts are like teflon, neurons don’t easily attach as quickly as with negative thoughts. However, if you are able to savor and appreciate those moments that are good for at least 15 seconds, those positive thoughts latch on much stronger than negative thoughts ever could. I dare you today to consciously savor and appreciate the mundane routines that give life the simplest of pleasures.

We must learn to transform our pain and fear or we will surely impart it to the people around us or even to the next generation. Pain can either make us a very bitter people or quite the opposite – a people of compassion and wisdom – perhaps because the heart is soften or because it makes us feel like we have nothing else to lose.

A little snapshot of one of my work spaces. I’ve seen this view for almost 2 years now so I decided to do a self-portrait. A lot of editing, writing, reading, questioning, listening, and dreaming, is done right here.

Even with all the creating and sharing and pursuing of my craft, at the end of the day I want to look back and see how I loved others because honestly, that’s all that matters. There’s a Richard Rohr quote I often share with people and it says, “Our life situation and our style of relating to others is “the final truth” that we take with us to the grave.” We can get so caught up in the tasks of the day to day, the trials of life, politics, petty or significant arguments, that we forget to see people as people and embrace the moment as it is. My hope, is that at the end of my life I can look back and know I did my best in creating an environment where people felt safe and welcomed to be who they are without fear of rejection but embraced with love and acceptance.

© all pictures with kind permission Caleb Gaskins

As I’ve walked through my photographic journey, I’ve recognized that photographs help me slow down, think, and challenge the very way I interact with the world. At the same time, they allow me to capture honest moments that are in and of themselves – raw, pure, and at times, indescribable. I love those candid moments when emotions are organic, real, and fully embraced. It’s that quick glance with eyes of love, that smirk that goes almost entirely unseen, it’s when there is sudden and uncontrollable laughter, it is when tears flow freely followed by a tender embrace.

Caleb is a photographer based in Central California. More about him here and here.

Have a wonderful week my dear readers & take good care of yourself! Melanie

conversation about the sea

My conversation with photographer Franca Perra about a life near the sea:

I live with the northern sea and Franca comes from the sea of the south. Franca says, if you want to “meet” someone in the digital world, you have to stay authentic, then magic occurs even in this fast world and you learn something about the other person and about yourself. That’s true. I know the northern sea and the sea of the south both from childhood on well. Franca’s words and her pictures showed me that in the end, there is no gap between them despite all the differences, no gap between the two worlds I grew up in.

Franca is born near the sea and in some way she comes from the sea. Her mother used to call her flower of May, but she preferred the name her grandmother gave her: little sea spider. Franca has the sea in her soul. As a photographer with an architect training she thought a lot about why people so urgently want to live near the coast. Franca: “In the end we all have this inner voice which drives us to the sea, some kind of instinct of our earliest childhood probably. It seems that we all have to revive the experience to see and feel the sea again and again.” Even if it’s through looking at Franca’s pictures.

The sea of the south and the sea of the north are two different worlds, with different horizontal lines, lights and dewiness, with so many varieties. Franca told me, that she is always caught by surprise when suddenly a slight difference occurs in the air. At her home, at the isle of Sardegna, the summer light is very sharp and the air is hot. The sea in these days is peaceful without clear distinction from the sky. What remains, she said,  is a blankness full of nothing and yet full of all thinkable possibilities. Her isle is a land of the wind like my north too, a strong wind, called the Maestrale. Franca: “There is a small, nearly unknown, sparse and dry island near Sardegna, impossible to live on, because of the hard wind and the drought, with wild garlic and no shades for shelter, just some sea-gulls and wild rabbits.” She loves this place, the different lights, the smell, the wind, the sparse vegetation.

If she is to long away from home, she feels the absence of the sea. If she is traveling, she is always seeking her southern sea and she finds it in the northern sea on her journeys in Denmark, Norway, France and Netherlands. In the North she describes the coast as different:” The horinzon is more open, but the light is barred. The colours reflect a nostalgic light with variations of a soft colour palette. The sea here is imposing, the coastal line is unstable. The landscape is ephemeral with the sea and the tides assiduously leaving the shore and the flint naked, the sea is molding them continuously, painting an abstract canvas, an authentic land art.”

Franca told me, that while she was bowing to the sea with all its weather changes and its infinite lights and tides, she realizes that the desert land of the south is not so different from the lonesome northern steppe. The mild horizon from the north shaped by the fog is not far away from the southern humid cloud cover of the Mediterranean Sea. Franca: “What remains different and captivating is the alterability of the light, that defines landscapes, inner landscapes too, that have the capability to renew themselves continuously in my mind and have the power to inspire me.”

© all pictures Franca Perra, all rights reserved

More about her wonderful work on Behance , or have a look on her Instagram account.

An inspiring week my dear followers! Take good care of yourself, Melanie Kettner

postcard from Norway

This week nordic summer inspiration with Davies Zambotti and her postcard from Norway. This beautiful series displays so well the nordic air with all its facets, the colour of the sea and the play between light and deep, chilly and beneficial shadow. Davies is an Italian photographer and film director, who already worked on many film sets as “The International” from Tom Tykwer.

© all pictures Davies Zambotti

Learn more about Davies artistic work here. When I look at these images I immediately have to think about nordic summer holidays. Wonderful early summer days for you my dear readers! Here in the North we enjoy the first warm days, Lavender smell, giant blooming chestnut trees, a clear wind and a freezy sea and darkish blue lake….

the luxury to take time

Images: Morgane Erpicum Words: Melanie Kettner-

To start an inspiring week we want to show you the delicate landscape photography of Morgane Erpicum. I love her soft tones and the message the images are holding. The light, soft, calm atmosphere has a magic nucleus that talks to the beholder.

Frustrated with the unreliability of her memory, Morgane attempted to revive her travel experiences and share the feelings they inspired her through painting and writing. Morgane:” I always had itchy feet, and an insatiable curiosity for different cultures and landscapes. In October of 2015, my husband gave me an Olympus OM1 35mm. I was immediately seduced by analog photography’s grain, textures and wonderful latitude. Since then, I have been documenting my escapes on film, wandering the world in pursuit of a sensation of belonging and serenity.”

Her photographic stories are immediately recognizable: a very minimalistic eye laid upon the regions she roams, panoramas showcased by singular, soft colour palettes, clear geometric lines and authentic emotions. Through her landscape and portrait work, Morgane continually explores the fine line between observing and staging, in order to tell human and emotional stories – mostly within the realms of improvisation.
Morgane: “Film photography provides me with the luxury of taking time. While digital seems to have an almost immediate expiration date due to the advent of social networks, the long waiting time between the snap of the shutter and the reception of the image allows me time to reflect and review my photography with fresh eyes.”

Morgane: “Stereotypical offspring of the Y generation, living in a hundred-miles-an-hour society that no longer takes the time to catch its breath, I like to step back to contemplate each shot. This cathartic detachment from electronics permits me to focus on the essential” – a mentality portrayed through her rudimentary travel style. No Internet, no telephone, no batteries and no constraints, she is free to wander as she pleases and savour the extraordinary feeling of being, in harmony with herself and the world around her.

© all pictures Morgane Erpicum

More about her stunning work here. Meet her on Facebook here and on Instagram here. An inspiring week dear followers! Take good care of yourself! Melanie Kettner


Kim Høltermand’s nordic vision

This week on NORTHLETTERS: Award winning architectural and landscape photographer Kim Høltermand from Denmark, based in Copenhagen. I like the cool calmness in his iconic artworks, his nordic clearness in lines, forms and colours. Northern buildings and countries are the subjects to his eyes showing us the special nordic mood. Clients include Adobe, Apple, Behance, HTC and Alfa Romeo. He is featured f.e. by DEZEEN, Ignant, VSCO and in publications such as Port Magazine, Dwell, Oak the Nordic Journal, Architecture d’Aujourd’hui (AA) and Cercle Magazine.

© all pictures with kind permission

I honestly must admit that I have a strong focus at the moment on these beautiful colours he uses in this selection of images. I like the combination of soft colour patterns and clear, geometric shapes in sceneries like film settings.

More about his intriguing work here. His interesting instagram account you can find here.

An inspiring week dear followers! Next week I will present you a poetic landscape photographer and world wanderer.

Take good care! Best! Melanie Kettner

the colour green outside

Images: Haarkon Words: Melanie Kettner-

This week I’m enjoying the colour green outside. In Hamburg this colour is nearly bursting at the moment, luckily also at the centre, where we are living, the surrounding seems to be a giant park. Even if the sky at the moment is dark grey, nonetheless or maybe because of it, the green nature is striking. I discovered Haarkon, a beautiful website with the topic green, plants and travelling of the photographers Magnus & India, based in UK. They have a soft spot for plants and like to find greenery in urban spaces. They work for Ikea UK and Woolrich.They began a self-initiated Greenhouse Tour of the World and they’ve got no plans to stop any time soon. I really like this idea and the soft green tones they discover.

Here some impressions of Haarkon from their trips:

© all pictures Haarkon

You can read here more.Don’t miss their beautiful Instagram account.

Have a wonderful weekend dear followers! Soon here two very interesting photographers! Take good care! Melanie

the simple things….

The wonderful vegetarian food blog “Krautkopf” is my vegetarian inspiration at the moment, it is written by Susann and Yannic, two photographers from Berlin. They create simple, balanced meals for every day, a wide range of very creative and fresh recipes with seasonal ingredients and influences from all over the world.  Susann ad Yannic have a written a beautiful cookbook named after their blog. They combine food and interior pictures in an atmospheric way:

Krautkopf: “We never buy anything other than whole spices, and freshly grind them with a mortar and pestle, so that they only release their full taste during the preparation stage. The same applies to all of the grain we use. Freshly ground wholemeal flour tastes stronger, is more filling and contains a greater number of valuable substances. This by far is the overriding principle: everything as fresh and unprocessed as possible. In our kitchen, we try our best to forego convenience products and produce many sauces, spice pastes, stock and spice mixes ourselves. You can find a collection of these basic recipes on the Basics page. We also keep an eye on our sugar consumption. Refined sugar contains no nutrients whatsoever and puts a strain on the body. That is why we prefer alternative sweeteners such as rice syrup, dried fruits, honey, coconut and whole cane sugar, as well as freshly squeezed fruit juice. We tend to use rice syrup most regularly. It does not contain any fructose and so has less sweetening power. This form of sugar isn’t healthy either. But at least our alternatives also contain a few vitamins, enzymes and trace elements.”

We share their philosophy. Susann & Yannic: “It is the simple things that make life worth living. We love cooking with original products – especially those that are seasonal and from local farmers. This means that we associate every season with a particular taste and feeling. Our recipes, which draw influences from all over the world, are simple and honest dishes. Food that not only fills you up, but is also good for you and makes you happy. We want to share our passion with you, infect you with that passion and provide you with inspiration. Because we believe that cooking connects people and brings them together. I think I will try their recipe of a beetroot chocolate cake:

© all pictures Krautkopf with kind permission

You find the recipe here. And their thai coconut soup is a good idea for our lunch at the agency. Really delicious recipes, don’t miss them. I’m completely in love with their summer salt: A salt with chili peppers, herbs and organic limes. You can download their App here. And have a look in their stunning cookbook here.

They have worked on a number of new recipes for their cookbook and have captured these culinary stories with their beautiful photographs. A seasonal cookbook with 65 recipes, dishes with influences from all over the world, prepared with natural and original products. More than half of the recipes are vegan, lactose and gluten-free. I think it’s worth ordering, it’s becoming one of my favorite cookbooks, even if you don’t understand German, as their pictures are a great inspiration!

Take good care dear followers! After Easter holiday I ‘m having a short break and will be back soon! Yours, Melanie Kettner

Iceland by Jonathan Smith

Winter inspiration before Christmas break with Jonathan Smith and his wondrous images of Iceland- a truly magic land. He captures the colours and soft light that winter reveals in certain moments. Just let indulge without too much words:










13_neg0510 13_neg0436 © all pictures Jonathan Smith with kind permission

more about Jonathan here.

His work consists of large scale, highly nuanced color photographs of the natural and breathtaking beauty of landscapes. He has been the recipient of a number of awards for his work that appeared in the Smithsonian and View magazines, PDN, Art and Architecture and The Royal Photographic Society Magazine. Thanks Jonathan for the cooperation with NORTHLETTERS!

A wonderful Christmas time dear followers, I am already looking forward to this peaceful season with long walks in still dark mornings, some chilly barbecue at the dawn, snow, ice flow on the sea and icicle on the roofs. I like all the lights outside, illuminated gardens and balconies in the darkness. It is my favorite time of the year because it is so dreamy and cozy and the air is fresh and cold…take good care of yourself and see you in January! Yours, Melanie Kettner