It is three in the morning and Konsta Punkka is wide awake. He didn’t sleep a wink all night. Konsta has changed his rhythm so that he is awake at night to take pictures. Instead he sleeps during the day. Why? Because the light in Scandinavian summer is too bright to take pictures during the day. “As a photographer, it is something very special to travel through Scandinavia in summer. This is mainly due to the golden light you get here all night long.” Together with his girlfriend Anna, he explores Norway’s coast in his Hymer motorhome. On their road trip, they travel on lonely roads through unspoilt nature, climb rugged peaks rising out of the Atlantic and visit remote fishing villages.
MYVAN: What inspires you?
Konsta: Nature itself inspires me, but also the fact how unexplored nature is. Things we don’t know about. At this moment, crazy things are happening out there while other people are walking around the city. Knowing that I am there at the right moment to capture something unique drives me.
How much time do you take for a photo?
Working with animals can take from a whole day to several weeks. It all depends on how shy the animals are. I like getting rare animals like wolves in front of my lens. I have started seven experiments this year and have invested at least two days each. But for my taste no useful result has come out so far. So it definitely takes a lot of time and patience.
Konsta has been photographing since he was 17 years old. On Instagram, the “squirrel whisperer” has reached over a million followers. His work in one sentence? “I capture the emotions and feelings of wildlife more intimate, at a personal level.” If you look at his portraits of foxes, squirrels, bears and other wild animals, you really feel like you can look deep into the animal’s soul. How does he do it? With all kinds of patience and perseverance. Sometimes he waits up to three days in a hiding place to get rare and shy animals like wolves in front of his lens, the 24-year-old tells us. There is only one thing to do: keep a clear head and always keep the goal in mind.
MYVAN: What makes a trip in a motorhome so attractive for you?
Konsta: The trip through Norway was my first trip in a motorhome. Normally I sleep a lot in my car. I then fold down the seats and sleep on my mattress. So the trip in the motorhome was definitely more comfortable. You can also take many things with you – it’s like a small home. You don’t have to worry about where you sleep – you just drive as long as you like, then go out to take pictures and when you’re tired you can park and sleep somewhere.
You’re always in different places. Would vanlife be something for you?
Absolutely! I don’t have to stay in one place to do my job – on the contrary. I could transfer my office and home into a van without any problems. Then I could go where I want and work from there. I like this idea very much. It would be fantastic to drive all over Europe and work from the road. Maybe I will do that in the future.
For twelve days Konsta and Anna drove through the Scandinavian midnight sun, which plunges the landscape night after night into a deep orange-red. From Helsinki we first went across Finland to the coast of Norway. Their destination: The Norwegian island Senja and the Lofoten. The programme included numerous hikes to summits rising to over 2,000 metres in front of fjords reaching deep into the country. Animal encounters also did not fall by the wayside. Konstas absolute highlight: In the summer season there are many chestnut puppies in Norway. “We were driving a 20 km part with the camper van and we needed to stop every 15 meters because there were fox babies running on the road. That was a really cool experience. And as a wildlife photographer I need it to stop and run after them and take photos every single time.” So it took a while until they finally reached their destination, the animal lover recounts happily. Through Sweden their road trip finally led them back to the Finnish capital.
MYVAN: What was your typical daily routine like?
Konsta: We drove and walked at night and took pictures until the early hours of the morning. That’s why we could only rarely stay overnight at campsites, because they were closed when we arrived somewhere. We just looked for a parking place and slept in the camper. About every three days we stopped at campsites to remove the wastewater and recharge some equipment.
What makes the Norwegian countryside so unique for you?
The island of Senja and Lofoten are unrivalled with their breathtaking mountains. If you like hiking and exploring nature, you should definitely visit these places because they offer a lot of variety. You don’t always have to go to the tourist destinations, but you can also do some nice walks away from these areas. I like the area very much both in winter and in summer. The view to the mountains that lead directly into the sea is simply spectacular.
I like this kind of traveling: Being able to go back to the motorhome to sleep at any time is very comfortable.
MYVAN: What tips do you give to someone planning a trip through Norway?
Konsta: If you travel during the summer season, you should definitely change your sleeping rhythm. Traveling during the night is much nicer and less crowded. You get a lot more out of the amazing wildlife, the landscape and the roads are free. It can be a bit painful to sleep during the day and drive around at night, but it will definitely pay off.
If you visit small islands like Lofoten and travel with a larger motorhome, it might be very crowded during the day. Sometimes you can’t take the planned route because it’s too crowded. It could be difficult to find a parking space for your motorhome. I also advise everyone to take their time and not always take the quickest route. On smaller roads you can usually see more of the beautiful landscape. So: Avoid motorways as far as possible.