Photographer Johan Lolos travels across New Zealand, takes stunning photographs
Professional photographer and adventurer, Johan Lolos has spent the last year travelling and photographing the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand. The 28-year old Belgian has explored every inch of the country, except for, unfortunately, the North Island's east coast.
"I even went to Stewart Island," Lolos says.
"I did two road trips: a three-month road trip from Auckland to Christchurch , and a two-month road trip from Wanaka to Auckland. The other seven months I lived in Wanaka."
Along the way he's made countless friends, memories and captured the essence of the country on his Instagram account.
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"One of my best memories happened just a week after I arrived in New Zealand, " Lolos recounts.
"I was hitchhiking with a friend from Wellington to Auckland. We were waiting for a lift in Waiouru. It was getting dark and bloody cold. We needed a ride until Taupo, where we would have been camping."
Lolos and his companion were picked up by a lady and her son on their way to Rotorua.
"She offered us a warm bed and a meal at her place, which we accepted," Lolos continues.
"And as we hit the road again, she insisted that we come back to celebrate Christmas with her family. And so we did."
"We've since became good friends and are still in touch today and I know that I'll be always welcome in Rotorua, and they are always welcome in Belgium. Of all the people I have met during my travels, Kiwis are definitely the friendliest and kindest. Everyone is ready to help you and encourage you to explore the country they're so proud of." Lolos says.
While Fiordland holds a special place in his heart, Lolos picks Wanaka as the best place to live in New Zealand.
The self-taught photographer also spent a year in Australia where he completed an epic 400 km trek, photographing every inch of the country along the way. During his travels, he managed to gather thousands of fans on Instagram. He currently has 225,000 followers but he never anticipated the fame.
"Before my year in NZ I spent another year in Australia, and this is where I started being active on Instagram. When I arrived in NZ, I had 25,000 followers at the time, and I left the country with 165, 000. I would never have imagined such a massive support from followers from all over the world. I guess there was an opportunity to take as there was no local travelling all around the country to showcase it on Instagram yet. So people started to follow me to get inspiration for the time they'll visit NZ."
For aspiring travellers and photographers looking to make it big on social media, Lolos has a few tips.
"Post high quality pictures. Stop posting photos taken with a smartphone, and use a DSLR or a good mirrorless camera for all your images shared on social media," he says.
"And be active. Be part of the community, interact with people on Instagram and post at least twice a day. The more you post, the more followers you get, that's an international rule."
But he also warns Instagrammers not to buy their followers. "Take the time to build your account and engage with your followers, that's the best way to get your name out there," he advises.
For serious photographers wondering what kind of equipment Lolos uses: a Nikon D750 and a Sony A7II are used to capture his mesmerising photos. He also uses quite a few lenses. "Mainly Tamron lenses as Tamron New Zealand put their trust in me and supported my two-month road trip in NZ by providing me with professional lenses (15-30mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8 and 70-200mm 2.8)," he says.
Lolos' most liked photo, clocking in at 20.5k likes, is one of a starry sky taken at Cadrona ski resort.
"I named it 'Lift me up to the stars'. People are just crazy about night photos featuring a crisp milky way. Probably because astrophotography requires some specific gear that not everyone can afford, so people are always amazed to see something they're not use to see all the time. Plus the night skies in NZ are just out of this world, I've never seen something like that before!"
So what's next on the cards for Lolos? He plans to spend a year in Canada and then on to Iceland, Faroe Islands, Norway, Finland and Croatia. We can't wait to see his photos.
For more of Lolos' work, check out johanlolos.com