The three-year wait behind Norwegian photographer’s incredible award-winning eagle shot

International photography award Wildlife Photographer of the Year has recognized Norwegian nature photographer Audun Rikardsen for his incredible shot of an eagle flying over the mountains.

The three-year wait behind Norwegian photographer’s incredible award-winning eagle shot
Photo: © Audun Rikardsen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

In a ceremony this week, Rikardsen’s photo was given the prize for the Behaviour: Birds category in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, run by the Natural History Museum in London and now in its 55th year.

“Norway's Audun Rikardsen has won Behaviour: Birds with this powerful frame of a magnificent eagle coming in to land, talons outstretched, poised for a commanding view of its coastal realm. Creating this shot required exceptional planning and patience,” the Natural History Museum wrote on Twitter.

Rikardsen, 51, has previously won the award on 12 different occasions, Norway’s national broadcaster NRK writes.

The prize is often described as an ‘Oscars’ for wildlife photography.

“This is the greatest thing you can achieve in wildlife photography, and just as great each time. It’s a fantastic ceremony. You feel like a superstar,” Rikardsen told NRK.

The photographer works as a professor in Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø.

But he had to use endless amounts of patience to score the stunning image that earned him his latest prize.

It took three years of waiting before the moment was captured of the eagle swooping over Kvaløya in Tromsø, where Rikardsen lives with his family.

An NRK documentary from 2015 told the story of the beginning of the photographer’s hunt for the spectacular image.

It shows him making an eagle’s nest in the mountains behind his house, before mounting an SLR camera with a motion sensor.

It took time to get the eagle where he wanted, and for the bird to get used to the photographer, he said.

“The sensor let me know when the eagle landed. Then I just had to get on my feet and and run up the mountain to adjust the camera and flash,” he told NRK.

After several thousand attempts, the winning photo of the landing golden eagle was taken in March last year.

Open to photographers of all ages and abilities, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition opens for entries every October.

You can see some of Rikardsen’s awarding-winning work on his website.

READ ALSO: Guide: How to take the best pictures of Scandinavia's northern lights


Sami women can be sexy too: photographer

Norwegian photographer Iris Egilsdatter is challenging shopworn stereotypes with her exhibition in Oslo looking at Sami women’s strength and sexuality.

Sami women can be sexy too: photographer
Photo: Iris Egilsdatter

Coming from a Sami background herself, the 32-year-old student from Varangerbotn in the far north of the country has seen first-hand the conservative impulses she feels have held back women in the indigenous population.

“Like anywhere else, people will watch Lady Gaga and like what they see. But if one of us acts in the same way we’ll get in trouble,” Egilsdatter told The Local.

“I think that’s true of Norway in general, but even more so in the Sami community.”

Egilsdatter’s pictures form part of the “Shameless” project, an exhibition of works from 37 students at the Bilder Nordic School of Photography.

“People have been really amazed by my pictures. The models and I are really proud of how relaxed and comfortable they look.”

Possibly fearing the reactions from friends and family, three of the women she photographed asked not to be included in the exhibition. But for 14 others, including Sami politician Heidi Persdatter Greiner Haaker, the experience has proved something of a revelation.

“I have to say I was deeply torn over whether I should be involved in this. After seeing the exhibition, I’m really glad I did it,” the 46-year-old member of the Sami parliament wrote on her blog.

Egilsdatter said the project remains a work in progress. She has ten more women lined up for photo shoots at Easter and is planning to present a broader cross-section of her work at further exhibitions later in the year.

“This is just a handful of the ladies. There’s a lot more to come. So, for example, there will also be images of women masturbating. I want to bring in wider aspects of sexuality.”  

After seven years as a hair and makeup artist – “I hated it” – Egilsdatter realized she wanted to find an outlet for her creative and ideological sides.

“One day I picked up a camera and immediately thought: wow, this is what I need to be doing.”

While conceding that hardline Christian conservatism once fulfilled an important function in a Sami community ravaged by alcoholism, Egilsdatter now believes it’s high time for a change.

“Being conservative is just another way of looking down on people. Modern women have birth control, good healthcare, and don’t need to be protected by an outdated moral code.”

She also hoped the exhibition would serve as an eye-opener for Norwegians with a prejudiced view of Sami life.

“We’re often accused of just taking, taking, taking, and giving nothing back. It’s quite a racist point of view. People will feel sorry for the American Indians without realizing that the situation is the same in Norway today.”

Iris Egilsdatter’s exhibition runs at Møllergata 3 in Oslo until March 24th. See more images here.

Iris Egilsdatter (Photo: Simen Øvergård)