Victoria, Minn.’s Erik Fremstad Captures Local Landscapes through Photos

Victoria photographer Erik Fremstad Captures Fleeting beauty in local landscapes.
Erik Fremstad captured this image near a LifeTime Fitness building. He hopes his work encourages people to pause and look for beauty in the world around them.

Erik Fremstad might have been the only one disappointed with last year’s mild winter. He and his Nikon D800.

As a landscape photographer, Fremstad is passionate about allowing nature the chance to show its beauty in single, stunningly still images. He’s just there to capture it, he says. However, anyone can tell after seeing his work that there’s a bit more to it than just capturing the scene. At the very least, it takes a keen, curious and persistent eye to snap the powerful and serene images that come through his camera lenses.

Growing up in Woodbury, Fremstad, who now resides in Victoria, says he feels a connection between himself and the subjects of his images and hopes those who see them can feel that same connection based on their own personal experiences. “I’ve always been trying to tell stories,” says Fremstad, who started seriously pursuing his landscape photography about two and a half years ago.

Prior to that, Fremstad’s photography was casual. But when two of his photos started to gain significant traction via a National Geographic photo contest and an online story, Fremstad started dedicating himself a bit more seriously to his landscape photography art. Composition became a bigger focus for him and he started to only publish his best images.

Photography is still a side job for Fremstad, who spends his days as a video editor, most notably for Andrew Zimmern’s show, Bizarre Foods, on the Travel Channel. And if video editing and photography don’t keep him busy enough, Fremstad also paints, though he laughingly says his paintings are quite a different style from his photography—abstract, he thinks.

Patience is the most difficult, important and rewarding aspect of his photography, Fremstad says. In fact, he does a lot more hiking and exploring than actual shooting. Fremstad generally wakes up about 4:30 a.m. during the week to spend time in nature shooting before his workday at Tremendous Entertainment begins. He waits for the lighting and weather to be just right before capturing the ethereal, fairytale-like images he strives for.

His wife, Paige, then gets the pleasure of naming them, an arrangement that just sort of happened. “I just always defer to her; maybe I just do that because I don’t want to be made fun of,” he says, chuckling. “She’s just better with words.”

His patience, however, often leads to his favorite images: the ones where he knows he’ll never see what’s in front of him again. These images are so unpredictable and happen so quickly that sometimes he can only take one picture before it’s changed again. That is when he knows he patience has truly paid off.

One photo, “Steel Away,” comes to mind as he talks about this—an eerily misty image with tree stumps protruding out of a glass lake and one single coyote in the distance; as well as “Pastoral Dream”—the image he calls the favorite of all he’s taken. “I only had one shot before it was gone,” says Fremstad; one shot before the peeking sun moved and the lone deer scampered across the field. “You can never really tap the surface of [nature] because it’s always changing,” he says.

Though several of his award-winning images have received accolades from Capture Minnesota, National Geographic and Landscape Photography Magazine, among others, growing his collection and building his name is on Fremstad’s priority list. And self-doubt and the ongoing desire to improve push him forward, serving as his main drivers. But what once started as a primary goal of selling photos has largely shifted. “For me, it’s more just showing the beautiful things around us, getting people to connect with [an image] and see the beauty of it,” he says.

Of the image illustrating this story, Fremstad says,“This one is right across from a Life Time Fitness building.” He calls the stunning image of a spidery tree surrounded by golden grasses and a purple sky, “Golden Haze.”