Photo trip 2018 Kingdom of silence
27th Jan-3rd Feb 2018

In winter, the boreal forest of the Finnish Lapland becomes a surrea­listic kingdom of silence, where trees turn into sculptures, the sun skims the horizon and the northern lights paint the skies. Nowhere else is winter as magical as here. 

Our Photo Immersion trip will coincide with the peak of the auroral activity and with the full moon. During a whole week, we will photograph the otherworldly trees of the boreal forest encrusted with ice and snow, rock canyons, frozen lakes and rivers­ and northern lights in two of the most amazing national parks of the Finnish Lapland.

This will be an all Inclusive Photo Immersion trip conducted personally by Rafael Rojas and his partner Anca Minican. During the entire week we will be based at our exclusive and comfortable log house, from where we will be able to easily reach all our chosen photographic areas and adapt ourselves to the different weather and light conditions. 

It will be here too where we will be able to discuss photography in front of a convivial­ log fire in the evenings, and relax in our sauna after a magical day of winter photography.

 

The philosophy of this Photo Immersion Trip


 Photography is not the goal, but the path. Nowa­days, we all rush through our life. We travel fast and we see the world without experiencing it. We think that in order to see more, we need to move faster.­ But the truth is that travelling in time and light, ­travelling through mood and weather is often more rewarding. Feelings and emotions, experiences and souvenirs, are not measured in quantity, but in qua­lity. Slowing down makes you connect more with a place. When you slow down, your inner landscape tends to blend with the outer one. And then, magic happens. Life is like a good whisky, and should be consumed in small sips. Photography is the best of the glasses for that whisky.


Apart from our Photo Adventures, which are more focused on exploring the world and experiencing the thrill of discovering faraway places with the help of a camera, our Photo Immersion trips offer a slightly different approach: to slow down our pace, to forget about running after photographic trophies and to focus on creating highly personal work about a specific area for a certain number of days.

We minimise the travel in space to focus on travel in the light, travel through the changes in the weather, travel in time. Every day, we photograph a certain ‘playground' where you will notice that conditions are never the same. Every day, we get a little closer to the spirit of the place. Every day, we make a bet­ter friend. In a way, we focus on a type of internal travel, rather than an external one.

After many years conducting photo immersion trips, we have realized the best way is to allow our participants to immerse themselves with plenty of time out in the field on their own, undisturbed unless they need any help. Rafael and Anca are always available for participants, anytime, anywhere, to discuss technical, compositional, artistic, or philosophic aspects while we work in the field. Participants will not only get a lot of hands on tuition from Rafael during the photographic sessions, but they will also have the possibility of seeing how Rafael works, how he visualizes, composes and creates his own photographs in the field. Rafael will use many of his photographs to explain many concepts in the field, and later on during the post-processing and critique sessions which will take place at our hotel base. You will receive a lot of instruction about post-processing, which is an essential part of contemporary landscape photography.

A special workshop session will be held during our Photo Immersion trip to Finland devoted to night photography, which will be very useful for photographing the magical northern lights. 

We want to eliminate all the hassle of travelling so that we can focus on creative photography and maximize our natural immersion in the location. For our entire stay we will be based at our own traditional log house, close to the areas we will photograph and where we will be able to talk about photography in front of our fireplace. This will also allow us to make the most of the conditions, tailoring our programme to the weather and light we will experience during our trip. 

During this photo trip, we will photograph in all kinds of light conditions: sunrise, sunset, dawn, dusk, day and night. Variety is the name!

 

The place: Finland


 In winter, the boreal forest of the Finnish Lapland becomes truly a kingdom of silence where trees turn into sculptures, the sun skims the horizon and the northern lights paint the skies. Nowhere else is winter as magical as here. 


On the verge of the Arctic Circle, the Taiga turns the landscape into a ruffled sea of snow-laden spruces, pines and birches stretching towards infinity, broken only by frozen lakes scattered across the valleys and isolated hills rising like islands. Atop the hills, the forest thins out and isolated trees remain isolated, covered­ in snow and frost and transformed into su­rrealistic sculptures of sleeping creatures patiently awaiting the arrival of spring. 

At the end of the evening, a low winter sun skims the horizon, casting a golden light over the summits, painting the snow with tones of yellow, orange and red. As the sun disappears, the sky fills with a profusion of pink and violet pastel colours over a landscape which seems to have been taken from a Dali painting. Minutes later, still under the eerie glow of dusk, a full yellow moon rises in the background, above the woods of nearby Russia. The silence is intense, only broken by the wind and the sound of our heartbeats.

An hour later, we move into a tiny hut surrounded by the snow-laden trees in the depths of this pristine wilderness. Inside, we make a fire, sit down and prepare a hot tea to warm up. Then, through the window, a green light starts to dance above the tree tops. We go outside and our hearts beat faster: It is the aurora borealis. What started as a faint light becomes a power­ful display of green light, swirling and dancing over the snowy landscape. Minutes later, the aurora disappears, but the show is far from being over. Under the blue light of the moon, the ­forest and the frozen trees seem to come alive. Around us, dwellers of a world of ice and cold wait in silence. Nothing moves, nothing seems to be alive, and nothing is felt besides the crisp freezing air. Across the glinting snow, elongated shadows creep without unveiling their provenance. Maybe we are not alone, after all ?

Under a starry sky, we go down the hill, feeling the snow crumble under our snowshoes.  We head home along icy roads. The forest never abandons us. In a few minutes, we reach our place, a traditional and cosy big log house, just for us. We sit down around the fireplace and wonder whether the whole day was real, or just a dream. Our incredible photographs tell us the answer...

Along the border between Finland and Russia, another surprise awaits us. There, the Oulanka River runs through one of the most interesting national parks of Finland. This is a pristine landscape of untouched and unlogged boreal forest, in which a unique river ecosystem flourishes along a valley flanked by steep canyons of rock and filled with rapids and waterfalls. In winter, the place becomes particularly amazing when ice clings from the rocky cliffs, waterfalls freeze and pieces of ice are carried by the black waters through the forest. Here and there, tiny wooden cabins invite us to rest and swinging bridges allow us to photograph over the raging waters. 

But the mystery of the north is all around us. Here and there, large frozen lakes become blank canvases where only the animal tracks in the snow and the tree line in the distance break the emptiness of the white expanse. We experience the pleasure of photogra­phing the void and the minimal lands­cape which co­vers it all.

 

For the full detailed information, please donwload our detailed PDF brochure at the bottom of the right column of this page.

The Itinerary


Day 1 - 27th January 2018 - Arrival in Kuusamo

We will pick you up at the Kuusamo airport on the first day and transfer you to our cosy log house which will serve as our base. We will have dinner together, get acquainted and possibly photograph the northern lights if the sky is clear.

Days 2 to 7

During 6 full days we will explore and photograph the most interesting and photogenic areas of the whole Finnish Lapland, conveniently loca­ted close to our home base. During this period, the sun rises at 8:15 am and sets at around 4:15 pm, gi­ving us 8 hours of warm light due to a sun which stays low above the horizon for the whole day. It will also provide decent waking hours for sunrise photography and also the possibility of photo­­­gra­phing night scenes of auroras without having to stay up too long. Our daily schedule will vary depen­ding on the locations we will visit and the nocturnal activity the auroras may have provided, but a typical day will probably be similar to the following:

- 06:00                   Breakfast served at our house

- 07:30 - 10:00       Photographic session at dawn and sunrise

- 11:00 - 12:00       Photo Review session and/or Relaxation time

- 12:00                    Packed lunch or lunch at the hut

- 14:00 - 17:00       Afternoon, sunset and dusk photographic session

- 18:00                    Dinner

- 19:00                    Northern Lights photography if the sky is clear 

Day 8 - 3rd February 2018 - End of Photo-Immersion trip

We will have breakfast together and officially end the photographic trip. We will arrange the transfers to Kuusamo airport for the early morning, so that participants can easily catch their connecting flights back home.

 

Included and excluded


Included:

- Tour led by Rafael Rojas and Anca Minican

- "In the field’ photography advice, daily briefings, commentary sessions & image reviews

- Special workshop session on night photography

- Accommodation in traditional log house

- Single occupancy for all participants

- All meals and all non alcoholic drinks

- Transport during the whole stay

- Transfers from and to the airport of Kuusamo

- Unforgettable experiences and a lot of fun!

Excluded

- Photographic and clothing equipment

- International and domestic flights

- Any meals other than those stated in the detailed itinerary

- Personal expenses: telephone, gifts,...

- Alcoholic beverages

- Medical and Accident Insurance (compul­sory for all participants)

- Cancellation insurance (strongly recommended)

- Snowshoes (possibility of renting them - better to bring yours)

 

Other details


Photography Level

All photographic levels, from beginners to advanced photographers are welcome. A certain familiarity with your camera will be very beneficial in order to get the most from this photographic trip.

Exertion Level

You should be fairly used to working in cold conditions with lengthy periods spent in exposed locations. You should also be reasonably fit as, although most walks are fairly short, the snow can be deep and a walk of around 1.5km is necessary to access some hills where we will photograph. Some paths are cleared and in any case we will use snowshoes, but you should nevertheless be of good basic fitness.

Price

3'750 CHF (Swiss Francs) VAT incl.

Single Occupancy Supplement

Single Occupancy accommodation is included on this photo trip for all participants. Couples will be able to share the same room (twin beds, which may be put together).

Payment details

Deposit of 1,500 CHF to secure your place atthe time of booking.

Full payment of the photo-trip due 120 days (4 months) prior to the departure date.

Cancellation Fees

Should you need to cancel this Photo Trip, the following fees apply:

- 90 days or more before the departure date: Your deposit fee

- 89 to 61 days before the departure date: 50% cancellation fee

- 60 days or less before the departure date: 100% cancellation fee

It is strongly recommended to acquire travel cancellation insurance. If you need any help, please contact us and we will be very glad to assist you.

Number of People

Very small group limited from 4 (minimum) to 6 (maximum). This number includes photographers and non-photographing partners / spouses.

Logistics and Transportation

Transportation will be in a van seating 9 people. Accommodation is in our own cosy log house that offers a large living room with fire place, 7 bedrooms, a sauna and 3 bathrooms. Breakfasts will be served at the house, we will take packed lunches with us for greater flexibility and we will enjoy dinner at the restaurant every evening.

Non photographing spouses / partners

Non-photographing spouses and partners are ­welcome on this trip. Even though the dinner ­conversations will certainly revolve around photo­graphy, all locations visited will allow non-photographing partners and spouses to discover and fully enjoy the beauty of the Finnish Lapland. They can also stay at our lovely log house during our early morning­ or ­evening photographic forays. Same rates apply.

Languages

The official language for this photographic trip will be ­English. However, bear in mind that personal explanations to each participant can be done also in French or Spanish, as we are bilingual in these other languages. 

A certain international composition of the group should be expected, with all the fun and wonderful implications that brings! 

 

Special Conditions


Visas/Passports

Please ensure:
1) That you have pre-arranged your entry visa if required
2) That your passport is valid to visit Finland and does not expire in a critical date

Health

No vaccinations are mandatory. 
It is a condition of booking that you disclose any medical conditions you might have including allergies or special nutritional requirements. This is essential as it may affect both your own and other people's enjoyment of the trip and will allow us to understand the implications in relation to the particular trip. 

Luggage

Please bear in mind the volume limitation for your photo-bag! We will be travelling in a van of 9 seats, which should be able to accommodate all our bags we normally take for our photographic sessions. Therefore, we will hike up the hill in the snow and you do not want to carry unnecessary weight with you.

Insurances

All participants must be in possession of Health and Accident Insurance (with repatriation cover). 
Additionally, we strongly advise you to conclude a Cancellation Insurance. If you need any help with this, let us know and we will suggest some leading companies with which we normally work. 

 

Informations about the Weather:


The weather in Finnish Lapland is decidedly continental, with long cold winters and relatively warm summers. Well inland and far away from the influence of the Atlantic, the weather tends to be quite dry, and in fact this is one of the areas in Scandinavia where the sun shines the most on average throughout the year.

We will visit the area in the middle of February, when the whole landscape becomes a true winter wonderland. All lakes are frozen and snow covers the landscape and clings to the trees, redu­cing the clutter to a minimum. This makes the northern winter the perfect occasion for the photographer who wants to create greatly simplified images­ full of emotional content, with a strongly marked Zen and minimalist aspect. Another of the gifts of winter here for the photographer is the freezing fog which rises from the lower valleys, and the wind which blows on the hill summits, encrusting spruce trees with ice and snow (Tykky, as Finnish people call it) and turning them into surrealistic white sculptures begging to be photographed.

Temperatures in winter can vary greatly. Although the average temperature in February is around -15°C, temperatures can range between -2°C and -38°C during the coldest periods. Very often, thermal inversion situations occur, leading to lower temperatures in the lower parts of the valley, while on the summits of the hills the temperatures show higher values. It is important to mention that humidity is low, and the feeling is that of a dry cold. This makes it possible to support the climate fairly easily provided one is suitably dressed. There is an old adage which says "There is no such thing as cold weather, only inappropriate clothing!", and this could not be truer for the Finnish winter. Absolutely everybody can comfortably hike, photograph and enjoy the Finnish winter wonderland, provided he/she is well prepared in terms of clothing.  Normal tourists visit the Finnish Lapland every year without any experience or special skills, and can fully enjoy the wonderful experience. However, it is essential to bring the right clothing and equipment. As part of the learning experience of this trip, we will assist you and explain how to dress and react in the cold so that you can fully enjoy the magical environment and photograph the winter wonderland. It is very important that you bring a layered system of clothing. Please consult our FAQ to see the details of the recommended clothing you need to bring with you for this trip. Bear also in mind that we will assist registered participants to gear up during this trip. In fact, knowing how to prepare and photograph in the cold is part of the learning experience of this photo-immersion trip!

In terms of light, the Finnish Lapland is truly a gift for the landscape photographer as the area lies on the verge of the Arctic Circle and natural light becomes really special and different to what we are used to in other latitudes. In the month of February, the sun rises at 8:15 am and sets at around 4:15 pm, giving us 8 hours of warm light due to a sun which remains low above the horizon for the whole day. It will also provide decent waking hours for dawn and also the possibility of photographing night scenes with auroras without having to stay up for too long.

Rafael Rojas

Rafael Rojas is a fine art photographer specialized in landscape and nature photography. Following a career as an engineer, researcher and university lecturer he made a dramatic change by becoming a professional photographer of nature and landscape, his true passion and vocation. Today, he travels the planet always in search of those fleeting moments when light and land combine to create sheer magic and inspire the soul.
His work has been awarded in the most prestigious international photography competitions, including the Hasselblad Master award, First Prize several times in the IPA International Photography Awards (USA), Px3 Prix de Photographie de Paris (France), Nature’s Best (USA), International Conservation Awards (USA), European Nature Photographer of the Year GDT (Germany), MML International (Spain), Trierenberg Super Circuit (Austria), Panoramic Photographer of the Year Awards (Australia), etc.

His fine art prints, which form part of numerous private collections belonging to individuals and corporations, are often exhibited at international level, in private galleries and museums such as the Smithsonian in Washington and the Burke Museum in Seattle, USA. His photographs are also frequently used by various companies and institutions and are often published for editorial use in magazines including National Geographic Travel, Terre Sauvage, etc.

One of the activities of Rafael Rojas is teaching and lecturing about Nature Photography, which he carries out during his photographic workshops and Photo Trips. This allows him to share and pass on to others his passion and knowledge about nature and photography by means of photographic tuition in locations where natural inspiration is at hand. Rafael uses his former experience in teaching at the university, his contagious passion and a deep experience and knowledge of the natural environment to assure optimal learning and unforgettable memories for all his clients. He has collaborated in the creation of several photography books, including “Visions of Earth” and “Natura” - both from Editions Altus - and is the author of his own line of photography books “A photographer’s vision” which he publishes and distributes from his website in different languages as eBooks.

He was one of the founders and directors of the company WHYTAKE.NET - The Global Community of Nature PhotographersTM. He is also a member of the select nature photography groups “Bouts de Planète” (France) and “Portfolio Natural” (Spain). He works with a panoramic 617 medium format film camera, a Hasselblad 6x6 and a whole Nikon digital system, always set on the sturdiest tripod available. He speaks Spanish, English, French and Romanian...

 

Anca Minican

Anca Minican, the partner of Rafael Rojas, provides a very special touch to all our photographic workshops and trips. Trained as an architect and interior designer, she is a true lover of nature and the wilderness and always accompanies Rafael on his photographic expeditions all over the planet.

Her broad experience in the corporate world, her professionalism and her methodical and serious approach make her a valuable asset for the organization, on-site logistics and the support to customers during our workshops and photographic trips. She also plays a key role in the team building and knows how to create an amicable environment with a personal touch as all our clients can testify!

Anca was one of the founders and directors of the company WHYTAKE.NET - The Global Community of Nature PhotographersTM. She is also co-editor of the whole range of Rafael Rojas Photography books, ensures the representation of our Limited Edition Fine Art prints and manages the photographic library of Rafael Rojas Photography. To summarize, nothing would work without her! She speaks English, French, Spanish, Romanian and quite some Italian...

 

Is this trip available for all photographic levels?
Yes. This Photo Immersion trip caters for all photographic levels, from beginners to advanced and even professional photographers. However, the truth is that to make the most of the possibilities of this photographic trip it would be best that you already have a certain knowledge of the use of your camera so it is reco­mmended that you exercise a little and become accustomed to your equipment in the weeks prior to the trip. Or you may prefer to enrol on one of our intensive photographic workshops of 1/2 day or 2 days in Switzerland (see availability). In any case, during our Photo Immersion trip to Finland we will tackle the basic technical use of a DSRL for all our beginner participants.

Which are the official languages for this photo-trip?
The official languages for this photo-tour are English and French. If we have the two languages represented among our participants, we will use the two for the general explanations and critique sessions.

However, as the number of participants is quite small, we can tailor the teaching to cater for the particular language of our participants, and speak with them either in English, French or Spanish.

We are used to dealing with international groups in our workshops and photo trips and it is normal to have four or five nationalities represented in the group. Trust us, that is one of the strong points of our workshops and a highly enriching experience!

What is the fitness level for this trip?
You should be used to working in cold conditions with lengthy periods spent in exposed locations. You should also be reasonably fit as although most walks are fairly short, the snow can be deep and a walk of around 1.5km is necessary to access some hills. Some paths are cleared and in any case we will use snowshoes, but you should nevertheless be of good basic fitness. Bear in mind however that any person in average physical shape with the good clothing and equipment we recommend should not have any problem. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are not sure about the difficulty level of this trip!

We will be close to the Arctic Circle...Will I freeze to death?
There is an old adage which says "There is no such thing as cold weather, only inappropriate clothing!", and this could not be truer for the Finnish winter. Absolutely everybody can comfortably hike, photograph and enjoy the Finnish winter wonderland, provided he/she is well prepared in terms of clothing. Normal tourists visit the Finnish Lapland every year without any experience or special skills and fully enjoy the wonderful experience. However, it is essential to bring the right clothing and equipment. As part of the learning experience of this trip, we will assist you and explain how to dress and react in the cold so that you can fully enjoy the magical environment and photograph this winter wonderland. Temperatures in winter can vary greatly, ranging from -10 to -40°C on some rare occasions. The weather is very dry however, and as soon as we are properly clothed the feeling of cold disappears. The truth is there is nothing as invigorating as breathing the crisp cold winter air in the boreal forest!

What clothing should I bring?
Good clothing and equipment is essential for this photographic trip. If you follow our recommendations you will be able to fully enjoy and photograph the magic of the Northern winter. It is very important that you bring a layered system of clothing.

Here below we list the different necessary elements:

- Comfortable winter boots/shoes for trekking, with a well gripping sole that can be used with snow-shoes. These boots should be especially suitable for winter. It is very important that they are not too tight, since that will accentuate the loss of heat. We recommend boots specially designed for cold temperatures such as Kamik or Sorel. Otherwise, you can also use winter boots internally lined with lambs' wool or other insulating materials (such as Meindl winter boots), and add some thermal packs inside to keep your feet warm.

- Thermal underwear. Merino wool is recommended, such as Icebreaker 260 shirts.

- Polar fleece

- Down inner jacket, ideally with bonnet

- Outer down parka with bonnet. We recommend parkas filled with natural goose down of 800 or 900. For example, the Batura Summit of RAB or similar

- Balaclava

- Chemical thermal packs for hands and feet

- Two or three layers of gloves. We recommend inner silk gloves, intermediate soft shell gloves and external warm mittens. You can also bring with you some thermal packs to slip between the glove layers if needed.

- This layered system should also be used for your lower clothing: Merino wool leggings, down trousers and some heavy duty ski over-trousers which serve to protect you from the wind and snow.

- A pair of thick wool socks allowing some free space between the feet and the boots.

Bear in mind we will assist registered participants to gear up during this trip. In fact, knowing how to prepare and photograph in the cold is part of the learning experience of this photo-immersion trip!

What sort of photographic equipment do I need to bring?
In terms of photographic equipment, the choice depends very much on your experience, your budget and your style of photography. There are a few general points though which should be mentioned. Most photographers tend to bring too much equipment to Photo Trips, leading to extremely heavy bags which then become a burden more than a useful tool to experience and photograph the places we visit. Never bring pieces of equipment you are not familiar with to a photo trip, and limit your equipment to what you will need in the majority of cases. Typically, any camera you use normally and a couple of zooms like a 24-70 and a telephoto 70-200 are more than enough for the vast majority of situations.

For our Finland photo trip, it might be useful to bring a fast lens, particularly wide, which gives good performance wide open (f1.8, f1.4 or at least a good f2.8) for the photography of the Northern Lights.

Please refer to the Checklist document of the detailed PDF brochure where we mention photographic and non photographic equipment necessary for this trip.

How many people will attend these Photo-Immersion trips?
A highly reduced number, of a maximum of 6 photographers, will be accepted. The idea is to keep the group at a very individual level, being able to engage in deep discussions as we evaluate our work completed during each day. As Photo Immersion trips are shorter than our Photo Adventure trips, this allows us to focus on each of the participants in a more personal manner.

Can I bring my non-photographing spouse or companion with me?
Non-photographing spouses and partners are ­welcome on this trip. Even though the dinner ­conversations will certainly revolve around photo­graphy, all locations visited will allow non-photographing partners and spouses to discover and fully enjoy the beauty of the Finnish Lapland. They can also stay at our lovely log house during our early morning­ or ­evening photographic forays. Same rates apply.

Do you offer single occupancy options for the accommodation in this Photo-trip?
Single Occupancy accommodation is included on this photo trip for all participants. Couples will be able to share the same room (twin beds, which may be put together).

Why do you offer these "Photo Immersion trips", is it a type of marketing gimmick?
No. Basically we propose activities that we ourselves enjoy, and that we have identified as most suitable to develop what we consider the most valuable aspect about photography; experiencing the world, connecting with it, having something to say and saying it by means of a camera. We realized that, after many years photographing the natural world, we could summarise why we enjoyed it in two distinct ways: Either with the thrill and adventure of slow-paced itinerant trips, or in the quietness and intimacy provided by short periods of discovery of a particular environment. What we offer to our clients is what we have found we enjoy the most ourselves, and that is why we propose both Photo-Adventure as Photo-Immersion trips...

Will I get bored after 1 week in the same place?
Many times, we have spent 2 weeks on the same stretch of coast, walking less than 300 metres every day, and never found the same scene and emotions. We have spent 3 weeks in the Taiga, visiting the same forest every day, and every day the magic of winter created a new spectacle for our eyes only...

In our Photo-Immersion trips, you may experience a certain shock at the beginning, since your mind, more used to the frenetic world we live in, will ask for more. You may want an internet connection. You may want to share that last photograph on Facebook. Do not relent by allowing your mind to keep to its normal routine, "see" instead of looking and enjoy the experience. At the end of the trip you will return home as if you were waking up from a pleasant dream, where your photographs will be the proof that it really took place. Returning to "reality" may not be easy, though!

Photo-Immersion trips seem quite deep and intense... Are these trips only for experienced photographers?
No. Photo-Immersion trips are open to everyone and all levels. A good photographer is not someone who just knows how to operate a camera. If you are nervous of the technical knowledge, you will see how in less than an hour we can resolve that aspect. And then, we will discover what lies below the tip of the iceberg...

There will be some travelling involved in your Photo-Immersion trips?
It depends on the particular Photo Immersion trip, but in the vast majority of cases travelling will be limited, if any. On some occasions, we may work along the same stretch of coast, on foot, from our cottage base located at 100m from the seashore. In some cases, we may even take bicycles and cycle along the back roads of a tropical island where no cars are allowed. In other cases, we might hire a small van to reach some locations nearby, repeating some of them during the week. However as we will be based in the same location, you will be able to leave your luggage at our base, and only take a few necessary items with you each day.

Which equipment should I bring?
Please refer to the Checklist document of the PDF brochure where we mention photographic and non photographic equipment necessary for this trip. Please use the button "Download brochure" that you will find on the right column of this page.

Does Rafael also take photographs during the photo trips?
For our workshops, which are never longer than a couple of days of three, Rafael is normally focused on the learning experience of his clients in that short period of time and for that reason he rarely takes his camera out of the bag. He may do so to explain certain aspects, or to demonstrate with some particular examples how he normally looks for his compositions and creates his photographs. Workshops are highly intensive learning programmes, and therefore all the time is put to the service of our clients, with one-to-one tuition.

However during our photo trips, with more days available, we adopt a less intensive approach, allowing our participants to immerse themselves with plenty of time out in the field on their own. Of course, participants will still get a lot of hands on tuition from Rafael during the photographic sessions, but they will also have the possibility of seeing how Rafael works, how he visualizes, composes and creates his photographs in the field. Some of his photographs taken during the trip will also be used as examples during the lectures and critique sessions held during the trip. In a way, during our photo trips you will also learn by seeing how Rafael normally works on his own photographs and later on uses them for discussion and analysis.

Is Finland a safe place?
Yes. In terms of safety, there is almost nowhere that can beat Finland. The Finnish Lapland, even if remote, isolated and at the verge of the Arctic Circle, has very good transport, health and social infras­tructures. Kuusamo, at only 40 minutes from where we will be based, caters for any needs you may have, even in the case of serious health problems. Also, the areas we will visit do not encompass any natural dangers, if you are properly dressed for the cold temperatures. Therefore, bears are still sleeping !

Do I need to have travel insurance?
It is a condition of booking that you are insured against medical and personal accident risks valid for the place and time of the Photo Trip. This must include cover for the activities to be undertaken during the trip. We also strongly recommend you take out cover for cancellation and curtailment and baggage cover. In case you need assistance in finding a good insurance option, let us know and we will put you in contact with the leading insurance companies we normally work with.

If I have a medical condition will this prevent me from joining a trip?
It is a condition of booking that you disclose any medical conditions. This is essential, as it may affect both your own and other people's enjoyment of the workshop and will allow us to understand the implications relative to the particular trip.

How easy will be to charge my batteries?
We can charge our batteries every day in our hut, and also in our vehicle as we will take an inverter; however, bring plenty of batteries with you (2 or even 3 minimum) so that you are always ready and flexible. Bear in mind that cold temperatures can strongly affect the time of use for a fully charged battery.

Do I need a Visa for visiting Finland?
Citizens of the USA and most European and other countries do not need a visa to enter the country. Please visit the Finnish government website to confirm whether or not you need a visa, that is your responsibility!

Can you cater for special diets?
Yes, our accommodation partners can cater for most diets. Please advise us of your preferences at the time of booking on your booking form. 


What if I shoot film, can I still join this Photo-Immersion Trip?
Of course you can! If you shoot film and want to bring your system, feel free. In fact, Rafael still works with film for a very large part of his work and he will very happy to help you with yours. For obvious reasons, we may not use your photos for the critique session during the trip (unless you use a Polaroid), but you will see the photographs of the other participants commented. At the end of the photo trip though, we will be pleased to prepare a video critique of some of your photographs, once developed, scanned and sent to us for a personal review.

Can the group turn into a competition to see who creates the best photograph?
No. Our whole philosophy is one of humility and self confidence, of forgetting about the hunt for photographic trophies, and about the need to focus on an individualÂ’s personal vision. That is why the environment and mood we foster in our groups is deeply embedded in these beliefs. In all the workshops and photo trips we have organised during the last few years, we have never seen bitter competition arise between the members of our groups. If one day that should happen, you can be sure we will be the first to make it disappear. Photography should not be a contest, since we are all different, none better or worse.

I do not have any photographic equipment. Do you have some available for rent?
We do not rent any equipment as we should need to cater for many different requirements; however we can suggest some addresses where you will be able to rent a camera, lens or tripod. If you have any queries concerning what to purchase prior to a workshop or a photo-trip, just let us know and we will be very glad to help.

How can I travel to Kuusamo?
Kuusamo is a quite important city of northern Finland and therefore has a good connection with Helsinki and with any international destination. If taken in advance, flight tickets should be relatively cheap.

back to top

J.Bognar - Hungary
  • I thought this photo tour would be a good one, but indeed it's been one of the best, probably the best one, I have ever taken part. Your professionalism is exceptional, the way you treat and give support to every participant is outstanding. Its been a pleasure to me to have the talks with you about photography. On top of this, Anca's attention to all details has been superior. Thanks to her too! Looking forward to seeing you again soon!
  • Sandrine Cavin - Switzerland
  • A photo-immersion trip with Rafael & Anca is not only a great photography experience. ItÂ’s also a friendly atmosphere without forgetting lots of laugh, amazing organizational skills to make each and everyone at ease! I can only recommend to go and experience itÂ’s worth more than words.
  • Phil Fontana - USA
  • This was my first trip with Anca and Rafael and I found the experience way beyond my anticipation. These are genuinely good people. The effort they put to the details of organization and personal attention to each person in the group provided a warm and welcoming atmosphere during the whole time. Not only is Rafael a great artist but he is also a very patient and attentive teacher. I highly recommend a trip with these folks, so much so that I have already signed up for another trip next year.
  • John Erskin - South Africa
  • We were very impressed with the meticulous way in which Rafael attended to the selection of photographic locations and Anca dealt with the logistical side of the trip. We found Rafael and Anca to be delightful companions and, by the end of the trip, real friends. It became apparent during the various image capture sessions, as well as during the image processing sessions, that the secret of RafaelÂ’is very evident expertise is his remarkable attention to detail.
  • Sunil Patel - New Zealand
  • This was my first photo trip and the experience provided by Rafael and Anca was one that has inspired me to go for more. I travelled from the other side of the world (New Zealand) to reach Lofoten with no expectations in my mind as to what I would see and feel. I found the overall learning experience very valuable, challenging my own style of photography and bettering my understanding of processing techniques. Rafael has an amazing eye for structuring photos and he shows you shots that are easily missed by the untrained eye. I would certainly recommend attending one of RafaelÂ’s photo trips.
  • Nathalie Capitan - Switzerland
  • Thanks to Rafael for all the shared knowledge, his enthusiasm, his great sense of humour and the professionalism! I learned a lot, met wonderful people passionate about photography and nature, everything in a very friendly mood. Thanks to Anca for all the attention to detail and for taking care of us all! See you very soon for more adventures together. I am a true fan!
  • J.Van Marcke - Belgium
  • The photo immersion trip “Finland, Kingdom of Silence” was an exceptional experience. Due to the very small group size everyone receives a very personal attention to develop his photographic skills, not only on the field but also the critique sessions and post processing where very helpful. Not only the professionalism of Rafael, but also the other aspects of the trip such as the choice of diversity in shooting locations ( taiga, canyons, rapids, woods, lakes), the excellent lodging facilities and food, the personal attention of Anca for the “non- photographic” needs of everyone of us, the humor and group dynamism with which Rafael and Anca fuel everyone's enthusiasm are the extra assets that made this trip unforgettable. Believe me, these people are 200% engaged and passionate in what they do ! I am really looking forward to go on another trip with them.
  • P. Conesa - Spain
  • For me it was an unforgettable trip, largely exceeding my expectations. As a photographic experience it helped me to reflect and look for a more personal, intimate and emotional kind of photography and, as Rafael said so often, look for the photographs inside of my photographs... Thanks my friends.
  • Yves Curchod, Switzerland
  • Rafael and Anca are jovial, methodical, multilingual and determined organizers, with enormous attention to detail and always striving for perfection, radiating a positive atmosphere. Rafael's photographic eye and qualities as a patient teacher have deeply contributed to the improvement of my photographic work, not only in the field, but also at post-processing. A total success!
  • Luke Classen, USA
  • Having never been on a photo-trip before I did not know what to expect and was somewhat apprehensive of the anticipated trip...but to my delight and amazement, it was outstanding. Rafael and Anca were the perfect hosts and had made sure that every little detail was provided which resulted in a photo-trip of a lifetime that will never be forgotten. And, I would not hesitate to sign up again for another incredible experience!
  • A. Franklin - USA
  • My wife and I recently spent 5 days with Rafael Rojas touring and photographing amazing landscapes of Switzerland while on a private workshop. If you are interested in elevating your photography to another level, I would highly recommend spending some time with Rafael. He is a true artist, has a very unique approach and vision from visualization to the digital darkroom and has the amazing ability to communicate and teach in a very articulate manner. His passion is contagious; it was an incredible photographic learning experience. I am looking forward to our next private workshop next summer!
  • B. Dupas - Switzerland
  • I have attended to many workshops with Rafael and Anca in the last couple of years. In all of them, the choice of the places, the organization, the instruction and the great ambiance created by Rafael and Anca have made a difference, turning these events into very special and enlightening experiences. To be consumed without any moderation and with a lot of pleasure!
  • L. Thomas - USA
  • Rafael took care to tailor his workshop to the needs of each participant, independent of their level. I felt he spent the necessary time with me and always came around to proactively ask and SEE how I was doing. I never felt alone or abandoned. He was sincerely interested in insuring each participant came out with great photographs.

    I was amazed that he did not use his camera during the workshop. That made it clear to me that this was about OUR photographs, not his. This is rare , and I have never taken a workshop were the leader was not spending any time on his/her photographs.

    The entire workshop was well organized and the accommodation and food were above what I expected. He does not skimp on anything.

    He was totally prepared ahead of time, knew the upcoming weather and tailored each session perfectly based on that.

    Therefore, many languages were served. Anca was super-friendly and a valuable part of the entire affair.

    Highly recommended!
  • J. Stern - USA
  • The workshop provided me with an intensive, exciting, and highly personal experience. It taught me a lot about landscape photography and technical and aesthetic aspects of photography. It helped me to "see" in a different way, both at the time of taking the photograph and in looking at my pictures after. Rafael and Anca were always attentive to each of our individual needs and delightful company. They set the tone for a warm and fun learning and social experience.
  • B. Vioget - Switzerland
  • A photographic workshop with Rafael and Anca means connecting with the landscape and living incredible instants full of their knowledge and their great company. Pure poetry!
  • S. Schild - Switzerland
  • Excellent photographic workshops! Personalized and passionate tuition, gorgeous ambiance, field instruction mixed with feedback and critique of the photographs taken...After many workshops made with them, I never stop learning and it is always a great pleasure to come back with Rafael and Anca! All the teaching is tailored to each of the participants and of great quality, and the good sense of humor never abandons Rafael and Anca. The workshops are planned with a lot of thought, and we are always in the right place at the right time. The only problem is...all workshops and trips are quickly sold out!
  • T. Von Weid - Switzerland
  • Totally personalized workshop with a very friendly ambiance. Rafael and Anca ensured a great transmission of their passion and knowledge about photography...even when it rained!
  • V. Manixab - Switzerland
  • In all the photographic workshops I have attended with Rafael and Anca, it was always a real pleasure. Rafael really transmits his passion about photography and his great sense of humor. The tuition was very tailored to each of us, and all different photographic levels could be catered due to the small size of our group. A real sharing experience took place among all the participants. Highly recommended!
  • N. Bohny - Switzerland
  • To spend a few days in the mountains with you was like being on holidays with good friends, while at the same time getting into a really deep learning experience about photography. I enjoyed very much how we could tackle all different stages of the photographic process, from the concept to the shooting and then the critical review and analysis of the photographs. I could ask all the questions I wanted, even the banal ones and even several times the same one! We have really made the most of the available time, when I got home I was really tired but happy. You two are really friendly and really committed, I deeply enjoyed your enthusiasm!

  • J. Wasem - Switzerland
  • My opinion can be summed up like this: Follow many workshops and phototrips with Rafael and Anca and you will learn to photograph in a different way!
  • S. Bongard - Switzerland
  • Rafael has made me feel his passion about photography in a way that no other photographer has never done! He really spurred on me the will to learn, always giving away without limitation! Bravo and thanks so much!
  • J. Thies - Germany
  • I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your constructive feedback session. This is the part that often misses out in other photography workshops and I believe your approach to send it after the actual workshop as a video download is really excellent. Your workshop in Grindelwald was top notch and the kind personality of Anca and you speak for themselves.
  •  
    Pages:     1 2 >

    Photo trip 2018 Kingdom of silence

    • Place: Finnish Lapland
    • Date: 27th Jan-3rd Feb 2018
    • Price: 3,750 CHF
    • Deposit: 1,500 CHF
    • Number of Places: 6
    • Language: EN, FR
    fully booked

    phototrip highlights

      Photograph the moon rising over an endless expanse of boreal forest under the magical light of dusk.
      Photograph the eerie figures of the spruce trees, turned into a my­riad of surrealistic ice and frost sculptures, under a varying range of light conditions and moods. This is surely something you will never have seen before.
      Get ready for the pos­si­bility of photogra­phing the Northern Lights. The Fin­nish Lapland is idea­lly situated to witness and photograph this incre­dible phenomenon, as the number of clear nights here is one of the highest in the whole of Scandinavia.
      We will photograph two national parks in many different weather and light conditions. We will work with wide and intimate landscapes, night scenes, simplicity and minimalism, details, etc

    difficulty level: Moderate
    photography level: All

    PDF brochure