There’s nothing quite like a holiday to revive the spirits and I’ve just been on a holiday that allowed me to indulge in my passion of photography and revive me mentally. Every day I work with the medium of photography. I have been a full-time professional photographer for 15 years. Its a lifestyle I love, though these days its one of the hardest industries to make a consistent living. I feel fortunate that I have been in business since before the days of social media and I have many clients that use me regularly and allow me to be able to support my small family and to save and go on a holiday of a life time.
I turned 50 last May. I had a huge party and exhibition, which was fabulous, but this trip to Iceland (and the UK) was the pinnacle of my birthday year. I have always wanted to go to Iceland for some reason. When thinking about places to visit i seem always to be attracted to places that have less people, less hassle and less hustle and bustle. Iceland in winter was perfect for me!
I knew I didn’t want to drive myself, especially in the Icelandic winter so my friend Maree and I booked a photo tour by a UK based company, called Light and Land. The two professional photographers who were responsible for us and the 10 others on our tour were David Clapp and Antony Spencer. Antony’s career involves many photo tours all year ’round. David does many tours but also commercial photography and speaking commitments for Canon. Both men were wonderfully affable and knowledgeable about landscape photography and of touring to get the most out of the light and land in Iceland.
Before I start this post though I do need to say, that although my friend and I wanted to photograph the Icelandic landscape we also wanted to experience Iceland; its people, history and culture also. If we had really thought about it properly we would have allowed an extra few days (or weeks!) to immerse ourselves a bit more in the towns and its people to be truly sated in all aspects of the country as a whole. Yes! The landscape is truly awe-inspiring and as a photographer it was heaven to capture, but for me I felt that to create lasting memories; I needed to see with my eyes, heart and mind and not just through a camera’s lens. This very slight dissatisfaction was no fault of David, Tony or the tour company, just mine for not planning well enough.
I have never been on any sort of tour prior to booking this one and whilst I was there photographing with the group I did feel that I was , in a small way, ‘on the take’. Yes, we spent money in various places, ate local produce and used local services and tried to get our mouths around such words as: góður dagur, Grundarfjörður, Búðir, Snæfellsnes, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull though strangely enough we had no problem ordering a big Viking … which, by the way is a lager! So YES! I will very happily recommend Iceland and our tour company Light and Land to my friends. However, for me I felt the need to give back, to share, to engage, to learn, to experience, to make memories with the people of Iceland so I could educate my part of the world about their part of the world, once home. I can honestly say that I had a wonderful time, it was fun, we saw amazing natural beauty and we met and interacted with some lovely people within the group, I know my friend and I had a lovely time! I just wanted to step outside the bubble every now and again for complete fulfilment.
When downloading my images every night whilst on my travels I realised that many of the images I had created all contained a human element. Sometimes it was an actual human being but often just a small relic that showed that this bit of our world has been touched in some way by a person. I love looking at landscape photography and can certainly appreciate the time and level of craft that is required to create beautiful landscape images but for me unless they have evidence of humanity I am often left wanting more. I am a portrait photographer, after all!
So, have I be left wanting to return to Iceland; yes, though another trip may have to wait so I can share it with my son when he is a little older. Next time I would travel there in late Summer or early Autumn. I loved that this trip was in Winter. I loved the cold, the snow, the lack of daylight, the ice, the wind. My friend and I joked about experiencing all these things and the distance travelled was about as far away from what we get and where we live in Australia as it could be.
Painting with light under Vatnajokull
Lastly, I have been thinking about what to do with the hundreds of photographic images I accumulated whilst I was in Iceland. As with any of my photography whether personal or professional, it will be printed. One or two as wall prints, and the rest in a book.
It was so hard trying to edit all my images so I really do apologise for the amount of images in this blog post!! At the end are some portraits of most of the people on our tour. I apologise to David, Jeff and Maggie for not making your portraits as I had the others….
Hope you enjoy my look at Iceland!!
Aurora over Jokulsarlon ( my first attempt at photographing the aurora borealis )
Hilary (that is me, with mud on my face!! www.hwp.com.au
Here are the rest of the group minus Jeff!! (so sorry, Jeff!)
Antony Spencer http://www.antonyspencer.com
David Clapp, fighting to 60mph winds… and almost losing!! http://www.davidclapp.co.uk
Steve and Jane
Dennis and Fre