An adventurer and photographer, Mats became a Helsport ambassador in July 2016
My name is Mats Grimsæth, I’m 21 years old, and I work full-time as a photographer, chasing things that make me happy. Six years ago the story was different, but since then I’ve turned my frustration and lack of energy into joy, positive empowerment and dream-chasing. When I was 15 I started working as a freelance photographer for the local newspaper in my town. I finally felt I had a talent that people believed in, and more importantly, that I also believed in.
I struggled to find my place in high school. I was an unmotivated brat: tired, flakey, lacking energy, I got angry easily, and was prone to being bullied. I felt like I wasn’t good at anything, but I started to play around with my father’s girlfriend’s camera. That was a turning point – behind the camera I was someone else. I spent every hour after school working in the newspaper. My homework came second to photography, but the hobby motivated me enough to finish school. That paid off: at 18 I was picked to go to «Red Bull Photographer’s Academy», one of only 8 people in the world.
After that things went a bit crazy, I started my own business and put all my energy into becoming a full-time photographer. I had a large variety of clients and assignments at a young age. After I finished school I joined the army and worked as a photographer there, and also took on private assignments after work. The small amount of spare time I had became even smaller. My best friend and I had a dream of travelling to Lofoten’s surf paradise, Unstad. But I had to fix the car, and I was saving for a lens; the excuses could have lasted forever. I said “Fuck it, let’s do it!”, so we booked a flight and went up there, Markus having never slept in a tent before. It was October and it could get a little cold, I had been outdoors a few times but I didn’t have a lot of experience. We had to try and fail; freedom was chasing the dream! No big plans, just taking things as they came. This triggered something in me, as I sat there by the bonfire watching the northern lights dance on the sky, hearing the waves roll in on the beach. I said to myself “I’m going to sail here”. That was my biggest dream, and I wanted to make it come true – a floating photographer’s office, sailing the Norwegian coast for a year.
The journey to fulfill my dream took a lot out of me, for more than 6 months I travelled between Oslo and Larvik and spent all my spare time working on my sailboat. I didn’t have much experience, but you’ve got to try, right? With some good help I made it, and on August 11th 2015 I sailed solo from Larvik to Bergen. For the rest of the trip my plan was simple; there wasn’t one. I wanted to take each day as it came. I wanted to meet people, travel places you can’t get to by car, hike in the mountains, surf, dive, and try out new things. I wasn’t going to do it alone, I had an open boat, and I wanted to meet people without judgement or expectation. If someone had the courage to make contact with me, I would respond with a “yes” – as long as I had room for them. For 328 days I did it: I sailed Larvik-Tromsø-Larvik, and have fulfilled my biggest dream ever. Over 50 people joined me, 45 of whom I’d never met before. During my journey I didn’t just fulfill my dream, I contributed to other peoples’ dreams. My memory cards are full of great memories and amazing scenery. There is no doubt that, after a year with nature as my backyard, I’ve started to love being outdoors. And I have learned to appreciate the opportunities we have on our doorstep. I wasn’t an outdoorsy type a year ago, and now I love it. I’d never been on the top of a mountain – with or without skis – and now it’s one of my passions. Being outdoors makes me happy! It gives me a sense of freedom and, combined with sailing, is the best thing I know of. With the help of my camera I want to share memorable moments that inspire others to get outdoors!