I wonder whether there has ever been a place that has gone through a more meteoric rise to photographic stardom than Iceland? It is the unrivaled Susan Boyle of landscape photography honeypots and I have watched in amazement as a very much 21st century cocktail of media exposure has propelled this cold and unforgiving island into a major tourism destination.
It isn’t long since I ‘discovered’ Iceland for myself and back then – all of perhaps 5 years – accommodation was thin on the ground as so were tourists. The ‘big’ volcano eruption at Eyjafjallajokull put Iceland on the map in 2010 and visitor numbers have spiraled ever since; now overtaking fishing as the country’s major source of revenue. It’s easy to see why photographers find this place so alluring.
Iceland takes no prisoners and it can be hazardous as our recent tour group found out. Vehicles get stuck or skid off the road; the ground is full of holes and in winter, the wind can be relentless but for the adventurous, it is a place of intrigue, fascination and real beauty.
Our fortunes with aurora borealis, one of our primary photographic targets, were frustrating to say the least. Whilst what seemed like every camera in Europe was capturing cascading waterfalls of celestial colour we were sat under a thick blanket of featureless sky thinking about what might have been. You can only shoot what you can see however, and we worked hard to capitalise on every opportunity – not always in perfect conditions but you do what you can.
Iceland gets under your skin. I’m not alone in that regard as witnessed by the number of photographers lined up to shoot beached icebergs and glacial lagoons. Like most places however, once you’re off the beaten track you have the place pretty much to yourself. My selfish gene wants it to stay that way of course but the rise in Iceland’s popularity is understandable and so good luck to any who travel to this truly unique island. We’ll be doing it all again in February 2016 so if you fancy a winter adventure you’ll never forget, drop us a line to register your interest.
As ever, my thanks to another great group of people who joined me on this tour. Steve’s hat chase will remain with us all!