Every now and then you meet people who have such an inspiring story that you either become so motivated you work like never before, or you simply ask yourself: what am I complaining about? Thomas Berger is one of these inspirational people. He is a Norwegian Landscape Photographer and has during the last years become a known face on social media influencer.
34 years ago, Thomas was diagnosed with diabetes, a disease that would change his life. Despite being met with several obstacles, he continues to follow his dream and to create images that inspire.
Can you tell us about yourself and your condition?
I began my creative career as a DJ and was part of the nightlife industry for 16 years but when diabetes started to affect my vision in 1998, I had no choice other than end this journey. I managed to keep being a DJ until 2003 but at that time I couldn’t continue any longer. While I was working as a DJ I also spend a lot of time photographing. I had owned a camera since I was 12 and ever since being a teen I’ve been working on and off with photography.
Today, I work with people who need extra aid. Due to my poor sight, I’m only able to work 50% and the future is unsure because it’s getting worse. I’m completely blind in the right eye and have about 50% vision on the left. However, I’ve got cataracts in the left eye so I’m continuing to loose sight every year. But I stay positive!
Were you into photography before you began losing your sight or is this something you picked up afterward?
I’ve always loved photography and have worked on and off with it but the last 10 years have been considerably more. I had my own studio for some years and my goal was to do it full-time but due to the worsening of my sight, I had to give up that dream. I always want to deliver 100% quality to the clients and when I can’t do that, I find no pleasure in it.
When I no longer was able to deliver my best in the studio I found a passion for landscape and outdoor photography.
How has your condition impacted your photography?
My handicap has been a huge limitation for my photography. During low light situations, such as sunrise and sunset, I depend on getting a ride from my wife or friends because I can’t drive myself. This means that I rarely get to go on my own trips.
Luckily, my wife enjoys photography as well and she’s happy to drive me around, most of the time! There’s always a limit. We try to have at least 2-3 week-long trips each year and go out as often as possible during the weekends. It’s still not as much as I want but it’s better than nothing.
What are the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge is to photograph in the dark. I love photographing the stars and northern lights but due to my handicap, I’m depending on having someone there who can guide me in the dark, as I’m not able to see anything. Moonlight helps a lot and during the full moon, I can see just enough to get around.
Capturing in-focus and sharp images is also a challenge. I prefer to work with manual modes and seeing exactly when it’s sharp can be a struggle. Luckily, the camera beeps when it’s in focus and if that doesn’t work, my wife is there to save the day!
I’ve put a lot of effort into knowing my camera as good as possible and this has paid off. Had I not known it as well as I do, photography would have been much harder than what it is.
It’s also challenging to keep up with the developing trends. Photoshop has become a huge part of photography and some images are almost recreated in it. I have a hard time seeing the details when working in Photoshop and this makes it harder to keep up with others. However, I try my best and that’s what’s important for me.
What motivates you to keep going?
I’m a stubborn guy who won’t give up. The freedom of being in nature and witnessing all this beauty and photographing it gives me a lot of joy. I must admit, I’m scared to death about completely losing my sight one day but at least I’ve captured many images that others can enjoy, especially my 3-year-old son.
Both my son and wife, as well as all the great people I’ve met through photography, also give me a lot of motivation. I’ve been lucky to meet so many people and I hope to see them again.
All the nice feedback I get is also a big motivation for me. The fact that people appreciate my images give me an extra boost to keep at it.
What do you wish to convey with your photography?
I wish to show people that you shouldn’t give up even when you get a handicap. Despite having a very poor sight, I’m still able to create something and so are you. I want to be a role model for people who doubt themselves and struggle to keep their spirit lifted.
My motto is that you’re able to do what you want as long as you don’t give up. I won’t give up photography until it goes black and I lose the rest of my sight. Even then I still get to keep all the great memories of the images I’ve captured.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m going to continue photographing and traveling around the world, chasing the light and the perfect image everyone is dreaming of. Being my own greatest critic, I know that the perfect image probably doesn’t exist but I’ll be searching!
Nobody can predict the future but as long as I’m able to take images, I’ll continue to share these moments with people. I keep thinking of this quote: a photograph is a wish to save the moment in order to share it with others.