Quest's World of Wonder

Photographer Johan Lolos captures Europe's most beautiful mountains

Francesca Street, CNNPublished 26th July 2018
(CNN) — Europe is home to some incredible landscapes -- from the vast splendor of the Alps to the volcanic terrain of Iceland.
These spectacular destinations are just some of the highlights of Johan Lolos' new book "Peaks of Europe" -- a photographic essay documenting mountains across his home continent.
Belgium-born Lolos has traveled the world, but in 2017 he decided to work a little closer to home.
"After three years of intense travel, I just realized that maybe I should try and focus more on my own continent," he tells CNN Travel. "Europe had a lot to offer, lots of varied landscapes."

Peaks and valleys

Lolos traveled across Europe, including to Theth National Park in Albania, pictured.
Courtesy Johan Lolos
Embarking on a five-month road trip, Lolos set out to document Europe's awe-inspiring landscapes and the people who call them home.
An early adopter of Instagram, Lolos has become disillusioned with the platform's main feed, but found inspiration during his trip from its Stories video feature.
Lolos shared regular updates on his trip on Instagram Stories. Pictured here: Triglav National Park, Slovenia.
Courtesy Johan Lolos
Sharing daily updates on his travels, Lolos was struck by the engagement and enthusiasm from his followers and was inspired to create a more permanent image collection.
"At the end of the five months, my followers had followed me for 145 days straight, and they couldn't access all these stories anymore," Lolos says.

Travel diary

Lolos enjoyed the incredible midnight sun in Norway.
Courtesy Johan Lolos
The published photographs range from snow-capped summits to sunny hills.
"I divided the trip into three parts: the North, the Balkans and the Alps," says Lolos
The photographer says the trip was full of incredible moments, but a highlight was his stopover in northern Norway.
"I was there the first two weeks of June and it was already the time of the midnight sun in Lapland," Lolos says.
Lolos photographed during the night and slept in the morning.
"The light was insane from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day or every night," he recalls. "That was a dream for any photographer, so that was probably the most memorable moment landscape wise, I would say."
Iceland was another spot with incredible lighting conditions.
Courtesy Johan Lolos
Lolos says hunting good light is key to photography.
"The human eye is more attracted by this kind of soft light rather than harsh midday light," he says.
Another top tip from Lolos is to use people as subjects, in order to capture the grand scale of the natural backdrop.
"If you want to evoke the immensity of the mountains [...] include some kind of model in your frame, just to give a sense of scale," he says.
The photographer advises uses a subject in a landscape image to capture the sense of scale.
Courtesy Johan Lolos
Lolos focuses on people as much as place. He says during his trip he lost his inhibitions about approaching strangers and asking them to pose for him.
"There's a real progression in my work and "Peaks of Europe" has been a true in between phase of this progression during my career as a photographer," he says.

True stories

Lolos is honest about the ups and downs of travel. Pictured here: Elafonisos, Greece.
Courtesy Johan Lolos
Lolos was able to tick off some bucket-list spots on his trip but says some places failed to live up to expectations.
Take Croatia's Plitvice National Park -- it was incredibly overcrowded when Lolos visited. In the book, Lolos describes waiting in line for 90 minutes. The overall experience, he says, was more akin to being at a theme park than a national park.
Lolos was disappointed by the crowds when he visited Plitvice National Park in Croatia.
Courtesy Johan Lolos
"Travel is not just about perfect days and rainbows and happy days every day," he says. "It's sometimes also about disappointment, overcrowded places."