Join us on a photographic expedition with the Sami tribe
The upper north regions of Norway contain some of the most picturesque landscapes that Europe has to offer. Countless fjords cut through the interior, all scars left behind from the massive ice sheets that once covered the region. It is in this landscape that the Sami boazovazzi thrive; an indigenous tribe that lives a nomadic lifestyle, herding reindeer and traveling the countryside by sleigh. As a keen photographer, you can join us on the adventurous and entirely unique opportunity to join the Sami on their bi-annual migration. Here are some of the main highlights of this photo expedition in Norway.
– By Casey Roy
The collective area in which the Sami people live is typically called the Sapmi region. Historically, the region extends well past the Arctic Circle and into Central Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. However, the modern day extent of significant Sami land is concentrated in the Arctic regions of the country.
The sheer beauty that comes from the desolation of the region makes for an excellent backdrop to pictures. Snow capped peaks roll throughout the region, with the Norwegian area being notable for its rocky coasts, where massive mountains rise sharply out of the Arctic Ocean. As one travels inland, the mountains warp around the ocean, creating large channels and fjords that splinter the region.
Navigating the Top of the World
Troms and Finnmark, the Northernmost county in Norway, is relatively difficult to both traverse and access. However, the use of a guide opens many opportunities to experience this region to its fullest. This is an especially promising trip for those passionate about photography. Any avid photographer will marvel at the sense of scale that can be perfectly captured in picture. There are still several hours of daylight, but an extended period of night allows for optimal conditions to marvel under a night sky full of stars. Troms and Finnmark is the perfect destination for anyone interested in photography, and the traditions of the indigenous Sami people bring a vibrant perspective for this secluded and mysterious region.
The Sami and their Rich Culture and Traditions
Living in the Arctic Circle requires a certain type of resilience that most never have the opportunity to witness. But for the indigenous Sami people, this strength is simply a part of life. The Arctic regions of Norway lack many of the natural resources that lead to intense development. Much of this region is sparsely populated, with huge stretches of land that only see human presence with the semi nomadic movement of the locals. Since there are many lifestyles of these people, Sami tribe photography covers a wide perspective. One of the most commonly regarded traditions of the Sami, however, is the process of bi-annual reindeer herding.
Cultural Divisions of the Sami
Food has long been the deciding factor in how different Sami groups developed. In fact, one of the biggest cultural divides inside the Sami community are those who herded reindeer in the interior against those who were able to fish. The physical toll of living a nomadic lifestyle chasing food is intense. Because of this, fishing was seen as an easier alternative, so many migrated outwards. Even today, many of the largest settlements in the region sit close to the Arctic Ocean. A photography workshop of the region will allow photographers to absorb both sides of the culture.
Reindeer have long been an important aspect in Sami life. They serve as the most consistent source of meat for those that reside in the mountains. While small game animals do exist, the amount of meat that a single reindeer can provide is superior to those of lemmings and short-tailed weasels.
Photographing the Sami people gives a glimpse at how important these animals are to their lifestyle, and how shifts in the Arctic are changing their market.
The Reindeer Migration
Twice a year, the Sami herd large numbers of reindeer across the interior in search of new grazing grounds for the animals twice a year. Herding these majestic creatures proves to be very difficult, especially since the extent of pasture districts has shrunk considerably due to mineral acquisition in the region. There are many Sami that question how profitable their lifestyle will become if these projects expand. In nearly every way, the lifestyle of the boazovazzi is becoming endangered if the economic demographics of the Arctic circle continue to change.
While the reason for the seasonal migration is a worrying one, it does provide some photographic inspiration; groups of herders riding on snowmobiles, and a massive crowd of reindeer moving in unison.
If discussing the unique life of the Sami boazovazzi has inspired you to consider traveling to the region and seeing it for yourself, find out more about our Sami Trek: Cultural Photography Workshop. You’ll be guided by two professional photographers, and you can expect to return home with an impressive and unique portfolio of images.