Kjell Redal was in high school when he went on a family trip to southern and eastern Africa. Here he saw local people going about their day-to-day lives. He had a “crappy point and shoot” camera and, with that, he realized his passion for telling a story through an image.greenhouse logo

Redal, 22, is currently a student at Western Washington University, but it didn’t start there. From Boulder, Colorado, Redal made his way to Canada to begin college. When there was no journalism program offered at his school, Redal said he found WWU.

Kjell Redal, 22, says his outdoor pursuits and travel experiences help define who he is. Photo credit: Andrew Jernberg.
Kjell Redal, 22, says his outdoor pursuits and travel experiences help define who he is. Photo credit: Andrew Jernberg.

“I love the area and the natural landscape around here, the mountains mostly,” Redal said.

Beyond the local landscape, Redal was hooked by a particular track in WWU’s journalism program: visual journalism.

“I am passionate about accurate, engaging and immersive multimedia storytelling, which I think constitutes journalism at its best,” Redal wrote on the “about” section of his website.

Recently, Redal displayed his storytelling talents in his “Above Bellingham” video, shot entirely with a DJI Phantom 3 4K drone. The video has been widely shared on social media and played 130,000 times on Vimeo.

Redal navigates his drone over downtown Bellingham to capture iconic buildings such as the Whatcom Museum. Photo courtesy: Screenshot from Above Bellingham.
Redal navigates his drone over downtown Bellingham to capture iconic buildings such as the Whatcom Museum. Photo courtesy: Screenshot from Above Bellingham.

“Above Bellingham” features aerial shots of individuals walking, running, hiking, biking, boarding, skiing, rowing, swimming and even backflipping their way around Bellingham and surrounding areas. These clips took two seasons to compile and the video was formed after three full days of editing, Redal said.

“When I think about making videos, I think of creating content that appeals to everyone. Not in my journalism – because you just can’t do that – but with a video platform,” Redal said. “You have to have the quintessential icons of a city, but also think about what looks best from a drone. It’s kind of a balancing act.”

Redal captures cliff jumping, along with many other outdoor activities, from an aerial view. Photo courtesy: Screenshot from Above Bellingham.
Redal captures cliff jumping, along with many other outdoor activities, from an aerial view. Photo courtesy: Screenshot from Above Bellingham.

The most challenging part about creating something like “Above Bellingham” is simply getting the drone to certain destinations, such as Mount Baker. After all, ski touring is complicated enough considering the extensive equipment and avalanche gear an individual must bring along. On top of that, Redal carries a separate drone backpack that latches to his main pack. “It’s this massive, unwieldy thing that hangs off my back and anytime I ski into a turn it’s pretty challenging,” Redal said.

Skiers stand and celebrate atop the snowy mountains as Redal's drone soars overhead. Photo courtesy: Screenshot from Above Bellingham.
Skiers stand and celebrate atop the snowy mountains as Redal’s drone soars overhead. Photo courtesy: Screenshot from Above Bellingham.

Redal personally takes part in about half of the athletics displayed in “Above Bellingham,” with skiing being his main winter activity. Cliff jumping is also up there in Redal’s favorites. As far as adventures go, Redal said he has spent the most time exploring the three regions of Bellingham, Boulder and Bozeman, Montana.

Before “Above Bellingham” Redal made a video on his hometown titled “Above Boulder,” which also earned a high number of views.

Redal releases his drone in a variety of landscapes to piece together a range of video content. Photo credit: Andrew Jernberg.
Redal releases his drone in a variety of landscapes to piece together a range of video content. Photo credit: Andrew Jernberg.

“I didn’t really plan this B-theme,” Redal said. “There’s a lot of towns that would be sweet to continue doing it with a B-theme. But there’s also a lot of other cool cities that don’t start with a B, so we’ll see.”

With about a quarter and a half left of university, Redal is enthusiastic for what lies ahead. Currently, he is in the process of sending out job applications and keeping an open mind for opportunities. To view Redal’s many work experiences and qualifications, visit his interactive resume for computer or mobile.

“I’m kind of branding myself as a multimedia journalist,” Redal said. “I’m constantly working to have all the tools of a storytelling toolbox to communicate effectively and engage accurately.”

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