There’s something about simplicity that’s appealing and I found it in Iceland. It’s why I began a 7 month project photographing the island. Perhaps the landscape’s demeanor, an enlightened state of calm, is what made it attractive. I often find it in nature and sometimes, in people. It’s what makes them both beautiful.
That state of calm is something I find during each trip in a northerly direction. I don’t know why it’s like this — the inexplicable feelings of being home; the waves of old memories that flood my thoughts when I reach a destination for the first time — but I always find in the high latitudes.
The first time I felt it was in Denmark, then again in Norway. Years later, in Iceland, I was older, experienced, different. I was no longer the immortal twenty-something roaming Copenhagen in summer. Nor was I the free-willed romantic passing through the shadows of Bergen’s permanent summer twilight. But it found me again. Call it what you like, a muse perhaps, but my first winter in Reykjavík left a mark and its meaning is still elusive.
I remember it well. It was late afternoon during my first day in Iceland. The winter sun had faded and I was chatting over steaming coffee and cold beer with a Reykjavík native in Kaffi List, a bar on Laugavegur. I was plagued by a voice-killing cold, burdened by heavy jet lag and energized by a wicked caffeine high. But there was an honesty that flowed in the way that only happens when strangers meet for the first time. Regardless of how I felt, everything in the world was right.
That first impression, and its rightness, made Iceland a special place for me. It sent me there seven times and helped me capture close to eight thousand images of its ghost-filled landscapes.
Photographers often capture the landscapes of Iceland. Like the American Southwest, it’s popular because of its stark beauty. The images of Iceland I had seen were fantastic — cascading waterfalls, lush meadows and endless horizons all taken in perfect light, but they told only part of Iceland’s story.