Iceland. Home to geysers, hot springs, thick wool sweaters, Björk and a language with more than a hundred names for horse hide patterns.
Beyond the stereotypes, Icelandic TV presenter and journalist Magnus Magnusson made this pithy observation about the Land of Fire and Ice: “When you live in a country which moves under your feet every five years with an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, like the saga heroes of old, you face a choice: Either to flee the country and all its hazards, or to stay and brave them out. For more than 1,100 years, the people of Iceland have chosen to stay and brave them out.”
It’s not just the locals who have defied the hazards. Iceland has also become a hit destination for photographers willing to tempt their fate on this unstable, volcanic land to shoot some of the most unique and extraordinary geography in the world.
French photographer Emmanuel Coupe-Kalomiris set his sights on photographing Iceland for its remoteness and untouched beauty – that of brilliant green mountains, black sand beaches and glacial blue lakes and rivers. After evaluating different vantage points to capture the island’s uniqueness, Kalomiris decided to take to the skies.
“I really wanted to bring out the abstract qualities of what initially had pulled me to these places,” he says. “I would see them from above, from satellite images; the shape looked chaotic and messy, and yet hauntingly intriguing and beautiful and interesting, and I wanted to stay within that.”
One of the challenges for Kalomiris was shooting from a moving vehicle, in this case, a helicopter. He was also concerned how pre-formulated ideas of photographing this landscape would influence him, with images of plunging fjords and lush valleys already inundating the internet and his mind.
“In one sense it’s bad that you have preconceived ideas about how to photograph a place, because you can’t help having seen so many images that influence you,” he says. “On the other hand, the good thing is that you become really familiar which is important.”
Kalomiris’ photos are extraordinary examples of taking the real and making it abstract. His skill lies in how he purposefully avoids capturing any objects that would give scale and meaning to the observer. Kalomiris even goes so far as to avoid placing description cards alongside his photos at exhibitions, lending even more ambiguity to his images.
So, if you’re considering a future Icelandic vacation or just virtually visiting, don’t get stuck with the stereotypes. Discover the extraordinary beauty of this country with a different set of eyes… or lenses, in Kalomiris’ case.
For more information on Emmanuel Coupe-Kalomiris and his photographic work, please visit: http://www.emmanuelcoupe.com/.