Belgian landscape photographer Sven Broeckx is just a few years into his journey as a creative, but he’s already carved out a distinct niche for himself. He first fell in love with photography while hiking in Norway, and this has remained a constant in his work. By challenging himself to explore unseen sites, he’s able to capture incredible landscapes that are uniquely his own.
Whether venturing across Iceland or photographing the stunning Nothern Lights, Broeckx is always looking to improve his composition and technique. Typically working with wide angles, he’s able to fill the frame of each photograph with innumerable details that help tell the story of each environment. Water also features heavily in his work, whether he’s shooting a wavescape or using a body of water to reflect the surroundings.
Through hard work and focus, Broeckx has been able to turn his passion into a profession, leading enthusiasts on photography workshops. Together with his partner Wim Denijs, he shares his love for Iceland, Norway, and the Faroe Islands and helps amateur photographers come away with their own incredible photographs.
We had a chance to speak with Broeckx about how his love for photography started and how he’s been able to hone his style. Read on for our exclusive interview.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got your start in photography?
As a young guy, I wanted to learn Photoshop and I began with making some easy artwork with it. I decided to buy my first camera to take better high-resolution pictures that I could use for my artwork. A short time after that I was spending a week hiking in the French Alps. And it was there that I was playing with my camera and several filters to achieve some nice landscape shots. I remember I was photographing a waterfall with a long shutterspeed, but also with very hard shadows. Now I think the picture is very bad, but back then I thought it was awesome. From that moment, I was hooked on landscape photography.
Then in 2014, I bought my first full-frame camera and went on a hiking trip to the Lofoten Islands in Norway. I slept on several mountain tops to photograph from those peaks at sunset and sunrise! Those images were popular on social media and from then I started to make multiple trips each year.
How has your photography helped your hiking and vice versa?
I just love spending time in nature. I really enjoy the solitude at some places. Being all alone on a mountain top at sunset or sunrise is just magical. It also helped my photography because I take a lot of pictures from locations that aren’t photographed a lot. So those images stand out a bit more than classic compositions at famous spots. Nevertheless, I also like to photograph classic, or easy to reach, spots when the light is great.
What are your favorite types of landscapes to photograph?
I love landscapes that don’t include human elements. Pure nature is the best. Mountain tops and waterscapes are the types I like the most. With waterscapes, you can play a lot with foregrounds—leading lines, different shutter speeds.
How did you go about developing your own style?
I really am a wide angle photographer because I like to play with foregrounds. If I arrive at a location, the first thing I do is search for the foreground so I am walking around with my head downwards.
There are, of course, a lot of photographers that inspired me. The first photographer I followed was Dylan Toh, a great Australian photographer! I also really like the work of Max Rive (Dutch) and Alex Nail (British) because they really like to explore and hike to places that aren’t photographed much before! And Arild Heitmann is a photographer from Norway with stunning Northern Lights and mountain shots.
You often photograph the Northern Lights. What is it about this phenomenon that inspires you so much?
The Northern Lights are just one of the greatest shows of nature. Every time I saw it on the television it looked so nice that I wanted to see it for myself. And I can say, strong Northern Lights are way more impressive to see in realtime than on a television (or computer or camera). I can’t recommend it enough to people!
You also teach workshops. Can you talk about how the idea for Northscapes came about?
Northscapes combines “north and landscapes.” I really like the roughness of nature in the North. And one of the cool things is that on a clear night you have a chance to see the Northern Lights.
What’s your favorite part of teaching workshops?
There are so many great parts. Showing people stunning places is definitely one of them. You also get to know lots of people. Helping people to grow in their photography! But my absolute favorite is to show people the Northern Lights for the first time. Everyone is so happy at that moment. And you, of course, want that your guests have a great time.
Do you have a favorite photo, and if so, can you share the story behind it?
My picture of an alpine Ibex taken in Chamonix, France… It was a weekend nothing was working out. The plan was to photograph the Milky Way at a reflection lake with some of the highest mountains in Europe in the background (Mont Blanc, etc). When I arrived at the lake, it was still frozen and that was very unusual for that time of the year. Then during the day, there were no clouds, just a plain blue sky that wasn’t interesting. Great for photographing the Milky Way. But the two nights I spent there, clouds rolled in after sunset, so I didn’t see a lot of stars. But then on the last morning of my trip, when I got out my tent at sunrise there was a male Ibex standing 10 meters away. I followed him for 15 minutes and then took this shot!
What’s one landscape you are dying to photograph?
I would love to visit the big sand dunes of Namibia. The altiplano of Bolivia is also very high on the to-do list.