We feature some of the brightest Instagram storytellers in the Passion Passport community through our Instagram Spotlight series. This week, Chandler Borries (@chandler_borries) shares some of his favorite travel photos and stories, reminding us that Memory Lane often spans the entire world.

Norway

Norway is one of the most beautiful — yet raw — places I’ve explored. In June of this year, I was up in the Lofoten Islands for a content trip. The islands are situated north of the Arctic Circle, at about 68° N (a latitude equivalent to northern Alaska’s). Fortunately, the Lofoten Islands are graced with moderate temperatures because of the Gulf Stream. But there’s another great reason to visit — between the crystal-clear water and the mountains that seem to touch the sky, the hundreds of beautiful islands seem like they were designed on a “Lord of the Rings” film set.

In general, I shoot most of my aerial photos by simply flying until I find an interesting subject. Everything looks so different from the sky, so it’s always hard to get an idea of what it will look like until your drone is in the air. I rarely do much planning unless I have a friend with me whom I want in the image. In the first photo you see here, I was flying around the iconic Reine Mountain and filming a scene for a Visit Norway project that my friends and I are creating. When I flew around the bend, I was blown away by the view. I quickly switched from film mode to photo and snapped a few shots — and I’m glad I did.

This second photo is a funny one. I saw this house as I was flying around and liked how epic the mountains appeared in the background. When I’m looking at a screen while shooting, I tend to get ideas in my head of how I’m going to edit the shots in post. The only problem with this house was that you could see the driveway, which didn’t make for an adventurous-looking photo, so in post production, I duplicated the trees around the house to give it more of a jungly vibe.

The third photo is from the famous Henningsvær. It’s one of my favorite towns in Lofoten, complete with colorful buildings and a soccer pitch. I’d seen this place on Instagram a million times, so I wanted to try get a different angle of it. Drone shots are over-saturated these days, so I always try to be different, either with my angles or the way I edit. Usually, shots of this location are focused solely on the field, but I wanted to show the mountains and coastline in the background and truly capture the entire scene.

I feel like there’s so much to explore in Norway. Its length is the same as that of Western Europe, but only five million people call this country home. If you have a few weeks, rent a car from Oslo and drive across the country to Lofoten. It was one of the best road trips I’ve ever taken. You’ll see everything — fjords, rivers, moose, and maybe even reindeer!

Sri Lanka

I love everything about Sri Lanka — the people, the culture, the landscapes, the wildlife, and (of course) the surf. In fact, I lived in the island nation from February through April 2017, and I returned during the same months this year. If you’re going there as a photographer, get excited. Dawn and dusk are exceptionally good times to shoot, as there’s usually mist in the air, and with the sun coming through the palm trees, it can make for some truly striking images.

The second photo you see here is a favorite of mine. The plan was to shoot my friend surfing at a local spot along the south coast called Coconuts. Aerial ocean shots always come out interesting, and this photo was no different. Coconuts is a reef break, but it has patches of sand throughout. As my friend was paddling out, I panned the camera down and noticed a ton of sand gathering up around him. When I edited the image in post, I wanted to bring out the contrast and shadows, which make the sand pop and look like clouds! I really like to give a dreamy quality to my photos. I’m a bit particular in regards to the way I edit, and it can sometimes take me up to 25 minutes per photo to be satisfied with the way it looks.

The third photo was taken during sunrise in this cool little mountain town called Ella. It’s another favorite of mine and brings back such good memories. Three friends and I completed a bike trip from the south coast to the north, covering over 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) in one week. Along the way, we saw elephants, dodged crazy buses, and met some pretty interesting individuals (including a few monks).

If you’re looking to explore Sri Lanka, I highly recommend renting a scooter or a tuk-tuk to get the full experience. It gives you the freedom to stop in small towns that don’t get to welcome many Westerners, and you’ll definitely be greeted with heaps of smiles and probably an invitation to have dinner with a local family.

Bali, Indonesia

After three months of living in Sri Lanka, you’d think I’d be over tropical destinations. But not yet! I visited in Bali in May, which is one of the best times to do so. I rented a dirt bike for the month and took as many trips as I could to different iconic locations across the island.

The first photo is from the famous Ubud. The town is known for its rice terraces, so Danielle Kling and I decided to head there in the early morning to shoot for sunrise. We left Canggu at around 4 a.m. and arrived just as the sun was peeking through the palm trees. It was an incredible experience getting the entire rice terrace to ourselves.

The second and third photos are from an island called Nusa Lembongan, located just southeast of Bali. I arrived at this spot in the early hours of the morning, and as I was flying around, I spotted this fisherman casting his net into the tide pool. I couldn’t resist lining him up with the sunrise and capturing the moment.

In my opinion, Nusa Lembongan is a lot more relaxed than Bali, and it was nice to explore the area with fewer tourists on the roads. If you ever make it to the islands, I would also recommend heading to Nusa Penida, where it’s noticeably less crowded and absolutely gorgeous. You can even swim with giant rays while you’re at it!

New Zealand

Although New Zealand represented a fairly short trip for me, it was a super long journey. I flew from New York the day after Thanksgiving, stopped in California for 18 hours and Hawaii for another nine, all before making the final trek to Oceania. Fifty total hours after leaving New York, I landed in Auckland, but I was lucky enough to be picked up from the airport by a friend whom I had met in France earlier that year.

The first photo is from a waterfall located in an area called Piha, which is known for its consistent surf and black-sand beaches. It was the perfect place to recover from my jet lag and enjoy the warm weather as New Zealand’s summer was just around the corner.

A few days later, I flew down to Wellington to see a good friend and pick up a car for a road trip. I was working on a collaboration with Mevo, an Audi partner based out of Wellington, and my plan was to drive around the North Island in seven days and photograph the car in various iconic locations. I witnessed some breathtaking views during that week and wish I would have been able to stay longer — I’d love to go back to places like Mount Taranaki, Mount Maunganui, Raglan, or the Coromandel Peninsula, in particular.

I took the second photo you see here during sunrise on the Coromandel Peninsula in the northeast corner of the North Island. It’s a must-see stop in New Zealand, known for its rainforests and uncrowded, crystal-clear waters. When I first arrived at this spot, the fog was extremely dense, and as I launched the drone and flew over the trees, I was not expecting to see this view. I love the perspective drones provide!

If you ever make it to New Zealand, I highly recommend exploring the country by van. In seven days, I drove through subtropical forests, snowy mountains, and everything in between. Many of my friends have explored both of the islands over a few months and have also said it’s been the best road trip of their life.

Ireland

Ah, the Emerald Isle! I visited Ireland during October 2017 and resided in Donegal, which is located in the northwest corner of the country. The coast, known for its huge waves, was recently voted the coolest place in the world by National Geographic. I was staying with a friend, Conor Maguire, who’s a local legend and a professional big-wave surfer. He showed me around the northwestern coast and gave me a proper local experience (helped along by a few pints of Guinness, of course).

Both of these shots were taken on the same day, while I was traveling the Wild Atlantic Way, a coastline that stretches more than 1,500 miles (2,500 kilometers) along the northwest. I explored it with two Aussies I met in the local pub the day prior. They were in Donegal for a surf trip and were looking to find some waves along the coast. I think the best parts of traveling are these spontaneous moments with the people you meet. We didn’t find too many waves that day, but we left with some cool photos and memories.

The Irish coastline is raw and rugged, making it the perfect place for a photographer who wants to capture the elements. The only word of advice I would give is to definitely rent a car, since the country is quite big and there’s so much to see.

Share this:
Chandler Borries
Chandler Borries is a freelance photographer and filmmaker from the United States. After living in Southern California working in the surf industry, he was driven to find a new life path. He decided to hit the road and travel internationally in search of it… that was three years ago. Through his travels, he discovered a passion for land and aerial photography and hasn't looked back.