Life through a lens: Johan LolosLife through a lens: Johan Lolos


January 10, 2018

6 min read
Words: Helene Ravlich
Photos: Johan Lolos

Travel photographer Johan Lolos recently spent 145 days on a journey he calls The Peaks of Europe, a photographic adventure that saw him visit 17 countries and some of the continent’s most spectacular locations.

Johan’s passion for the natural world is inherent in each and every one of his images, so we wanted to know more about what drives him, and what he never leaves home without.

You live in Belgium. Were you born there?

Yes! The reason I live in Belgium is because all the people I love live here too.

Have you always been a travel photographer?

Actually, no. I studied PR, and started taking photos in a semi-professional way during my studies. After I got my degree and started to travel the world I made the switch to full-time travel photographer.

Do you remember the first photo you ever took?

It was with a DSLR, definitely. I bought my first DSLR in 2009, and I think the first photo I took was of my brother. Before that I owned many digital compact cameras, and used to always carry a disposable camera when I was a kid travelling with my parents.

Johan self portrait
  1. Self portrait, 2016.

In the end, every single country had something very unique to offer…”

You have two amazing Instagram accounts: @lebackpacker and @johanlolos. Do they help fund your travel?

They definitely do. Instagram is a very important tool for helping get my name out there, and a way for me to partner with sponsors and brands that help finance my travels. I also get commissions around the world from clients who see me first on Instagram.

alpine valleys of the Swiss Alps
  1. Wearing the Cool-Lite™ Incline Windbreaker, in one of the beautiful alpine valleys of the Swiss Alps.
You originally travelled to New Zealand a while back. What were your first impressions of the country?

The first time I came I was living the backpacker’s life. After a year in Australia, I thought it would be interesting to travel across the ditch and see real mountains and dramatic landscapes. I arrived in Wellington and hitchhiked to Auckland in order to find a car and start a road trip around both islands. My very first impression of the country was how pure it was, and how green and dreamy the North Island was with its rolling hills. It was just a taste of what was really waiting for me a month later in the South Island.

What did you do while you were there?

We hiked a lot, explored almost all the national parks, and took a lot of photos. It was spring, and everything was so beautiful. On my way to the Southern Alps, I literally fell in love with Wanaka. I eventually settled down there for seven months, where I partnered with Lake Wanaka Tourism for free accommodation. Being based in Wanaka allowed me to explore and re-explore the very best of the South Island, during every season. It was one of the best periods of my life.

"Being based in Wanaka allowed me to explore and re-explore the very best of the South Island, during every season. It was one of the best periods of my life."

Mont Blanc range in the French Alps
  1. Wearing the Cool-Lite™ Incline Windbreaker, staring at Lac Blanc and the Mont Blanc range in the French Alps. One of the best evenings of the whole #PeaksOfEurope trip!
exploring the western Balkans
  1. With my girlfriend Delphine, we spent 7 amazing weeks exploring the western Balkans. Every day we would wake up in the middle of nowhere after a great night spent in our rooftop tent.
The Matterhorn
  1. The Matterhorn is probably the Alps’ most famous peak for its pyramidal shape. What an incredible moment it was to witness the first light of the day hitting the mountain.
Lake Wanaka
  1. Morning hike above Lake Wanaka.
Aiguille du Midi
  1. The beautiful ridge of Aiguille du Midi, in the French Alps, welcoming the first mountaineers of the day.
Julian Alps in Slovenia
  1. Delphine enjoying an early and cold morning in the Julian Alps in Slovenia.

"Nature is life, nature is what makes our planet so diverse and beautiful, and it’s time for us to stop destroying it."

You have just completed the Peaks of Europe trip. How did you choose where you wanted to go?

Norway and Iceland are amongst my favorite places in the world, so I knew I really wanted to go back. I feel really inspired by the Nordic countries, and more generally, by colder places. But Europe isn’t only about that, and I also wanted to explore the Balkans. I have Greek origins and the last time I was in Greece, I was 21 and not a photographer. Nine years later, I wanted to see the country of my roots with a photographer’s eye, so it was obvious I needed to include it in my itinerary. But the most important region to visit was the Alps. I’d been there many times before, but never in the summer. Being able to hike in the Alps instead of skiing was something I’ve always wanted to do.

Did you have a favorite destination, a favorite country?

Like I said, Norway and Iceland are amongst my favorite destinations in the world, and it was a huge pleasure to go back there. But in the end, every single country had something very unique to offer. Seriously I couldn’t choose just one.

What are three essentials that you take on every trip?

My camera, my laptop and my smartphone — all three essentials for my job.

The Black Lake
  1. There’s nothing like an early morning paddle session to start the day (The Black Lake, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro.
  1. Landmannalaugar is one of my favorite places in the whole world. There’s nothing else like it. Colorful patterns and patches of snow make for painting-like landscapes.
How did you meet the Icebreaker team?

I met one of the Icebreaker team members when I lived in Wanaka in 2015, and she suggested working together. Then, the day before I left the country to go back to Europe, I stopped by the office in Auckland and met the rest of the team. We’ve been collaborating ever since.

What are some favorite Icebreaker pieces that you took with you on your recent trip?

My favorite piece was definitely the Cool-Lite™ Incline Windbreaker. Not only for its bright orange color which makes for a great photo, but also for its efficiency. The jacket is so light yet so warm, it’s unbelievable! Then obviously, the Anatomica collection. Those pieces definitely helped to keep me warm on my summer hikes, and they were so comfortable to wear!

Lastly, what does nature mean to you?

Nature is what we should care about most. Nature is life, nature is what makes our planet so diverse and beautiful, and it’s time for us to stop destroying it. Nature is what made me become what I am today.

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