When Thomas Berger was 12, he got his first Olympus analog camera. His childhood home in Ringerike, Norway, had a darkroom where his father made his own photos, and right away, Berger was hooked. Years later, Berger is keeping his family's photography tradition alive through his popular Instagram account, @oneeyeproject, where he posts stunning photos of his explorations across Norway's landscapes. Berger, who suffers from a degenerative eye condition, has made it his mission to see and document as many beautiful sites in Norway as possible before he loses his sight completely. Berger, together with his wife and friends, spends as many weekends outdoors as possible, and he also takes a two or three-week-long vacation every year with the intent to capture more photos.
Berger shared his thoughts with Smithsonian.com on Norway’s natural beauty, photographing with a disability and the destinations every visitor to his country should see.
Campfire. _ The thing i love to do when im out shooting evenings, is to make a campfire. Just sitting there and listen to the sound of burning wood, is very relaxing. This is from Øyangen Norway What do you think? _ Hope everybody will have a great weekend. _ Feel free to share my pictures, but remember to tag and credit me. _ Til mine Norske følgere Følg @norskefototalenter #jaw_dropping_shots #modernoutdoors #tentree #instagram #natgeoadventure #stellar_shots #norway2day #globalcapture #thelensbible . . #main_vision #natgeo #naturegeography #earthpix #longexpoelite #longexpo_addiction #splendid_earth #nightshooters #nightphotography . . #nightphotography_exclusive #earth_shotz #earthfocus #moodygrams #moody_nature #amazing_vip #agameoftones #earthgrammers #earthofficial
Explain the story behind your Instagram username.
I’ve been diabetic for 35 years. Because of that, I developed problems with my vision when I was 18. I lost my right eye in 1998 after many surgeries to try to save it. It was a lost case, so they concentrated on saving the left eye instead—something they managed to do after 5,000 laser shots and different techniques to the eye. The doctor said I would have vision for 10 years max before I went totally blind, but now it’s 2017, and I’ve still got about 50 percent of my vision left. I’m still losing more and more because of cataracts, though. The doctors don’t want to do surgery because of damage already in the eye; that’s a total last solution. In 2012, I discovered Instagram and thought it could be something new and interesting to try out. I thought the name @oneeyeproject was perfect because of my conditions.
The green water. _ The special green water from the glacier in Stryn Norway. The boat is perfect in this water too. What do you think? _ Hope everybody will have a great Saturday. _ Feel free to share my pictures, but remember to tag and credit me. _ Til mine Norske følgere Følg @norskefototalenter #landscape_lovers #createscenery #nature_wizards #princely_shotz #iglobalphotographers #world_great #igpowerclub #igshotz #worldframeclub #nature_perfection #ig_serenity #long_exposure_pics #wonderful_places #exclusive_shot #global_hotshotz #instagram_underdogs #sky_brilliance #ig_photosentez #infinity_worldshoot #loves_landscape #nature_brilliance #instagram #ipa_springfling #igworld_global #ig_serenity #ourplanetdaily #kings_alltags #igpowerclub
What draws you to landscape photography?
I love nature, and always have. To be outside is to have freedom and fresh air, and that gives me energy. But I also want to see as much as I can before I go blind, so I have the memories to keep forever in my mind. When people see my pictures, they see the calm and quiet in the landscapes. I also love Norway's dramatic seascapes and wild nature and try to show those as well. But overall, I think I’m a soul-searcher, looking for my destiny in nature.
It looks like many of your shots incorporate water and reflections. Why is that?
I've always been fascinated by waterfalls and rivers, and reflections are nature’s own mirror—that’s why many of my shots capture them. Norway's coastal regions juxtaposed with the dramatic mountains and fjords provide a lot of opportunities for dramatic pictures.
What’s your process for choosing a photo location?
I mostly use social media and Google to find places to go. When I find a location, I use Google Earth to find places to check out there and find my own spot. But it’s not easy; after the digital explosion, the good spots are already done to the point of overkill. But I still try. I also see if it’s difficult for me to access the location because of my condition. I’m not a mountain climber.
What is your favorite place to visit for pictures?
That would have to be Lofoten Island and Senja in the north of Norway. There are majestic mountains and amazing seascapes. Pure, raw nature.
Where should a tourist go to see the best unspoiled Norwegian landscape?
Norway has so many beautiful places to go, but the tourists mostly go to Lofoten or other places in northern Norway. Those places are amazing, but instead they should look outside the box (and they’ll likely save some money too). Norway’s southern and western regions are also very beautiful. I would recommend Stryn as a good spot. There are beautiful green fjords with water from the glaciers all around the mountains. Also check out the mountains in Rondane National Park. Romsdalen is a great place too.
What would you recommend tourists do to see uncommon spots in Norway?
Drive on the small side roads. Remember that Norway is a very long country with pretty good roads. Rent a car and drive around; don’t only use the tourist buses. That way you see much more.
What is your favorite shot on your Instagram feed?
I don’t have many favorite images because they all have their charm and story, but I do have one really special photo that meant a lot to me because of my condition. It was on the island of Senja up north in Norway. I have some friends up there, and we were going out to chase the Northern Lights. They asked me if I wanted to try and walk up to a mountaintop with them. I was, of course, a bit skeptical—but why not? My friends really helped me up that mountain. To just cross that limit that I never thought I could was like a dream come true for me. It gave me a big boost in life. Positive thinking and family makes me want to try even harder in the future with my photography. I want to share my memories with my son when he gets older. He’s now 3 years old, and my biggest inspiration.
At the top of the world. _ That was what i did feel when i was shooting the aurora from top of this mountain. It was like beeing on a adventure, and it was really cold –10 and windy. But when you shoot in this kind of location, you dont care about the cold :) @frantzon and @frk_elsk_foto was so kind to take me on to this beautiful place. I will always remeber this feeleng i got on this trip. Thank you! _ Helt til venstre i bildet ligger fjellet Breitind som er Senjas høyeste fjell på 1010metter over havet. Fikk en fantastisk høyde følelse der vi sto og fotograferte. Eva-Lena hadde et prosjekt der hun ville fotografere sitt belyste fjelltelt med månelys og nordlys oppe i fjellheimen. Dette klaffet perfekt. _ Hope you like it. Have a great Day/Evening people. Thanks for comments and likes :) _ #Discoverearth #visitnorway #Norway #Senja #Troms #Norge #Breitind _ Check my travel account: @oneeyephotographer _ Follow @world_shotz Tag : #theworldshotz Join our weekly challenge every monday
What motivates you to keep taking photos and not let your vision condition frustrate you?
I’ve never been a person who gives up easily; I’m a bit stubborn. But it’s also because people say that I won’t manage to master photography, and that gives me extra energy to prove for myself that I can, even with my handicap. I tell everyone that I’ll keep photographing until my vision goes totally dark. That day, my wife will upload a black picture on all my social media platforms with this text: “The day has come. It’s all black now, but I see the light in all the memories I got from my adventure as a photographer, and my memories will never be forgotten. Thank you for all your support that kept me going. I’m now offline.”