In preparing for a recent trip to Iceland I surrounded myself with images of a magical and pristine place. Warmed by opportunity and possibility I arrived with my mind filled with images of spectacular glaciers, sharp edged snow covered mountains, moss covered lava fields, black sand beaches littered with jewel-like ice broken off from advancing glaciers, endless, uninterrupted ocean views – all in black and white.
However, it’s been a month now since my friends and I embarked on that journey and I am struggling to navigate a path through the photographs I took to create images that recreate my preconceived ideas. Indeed, the photographs that excite me most are far from my original idea. They are gritty. They are gloomy. They make me feel cold whenever I look at them. They are devoid of “pretty”. Indeed, they represent harshness, solitude, loneliness and could even be construed as downright depressing. But maybe that’s how I saw the place. Maybe I felt the struggles of the landscape and it’s people surviving the endless onslaught of the elements.
After several weeks of pushing and pulling photoshop sliders this way and that, I have found myself creating images that represent the feelings I experienced during my visit as opposed to the feelings I conjured up inside of me before leaving home. But this is dangerous. My friends have created amazingly beautiful images that I am sure will receive significant critical acclaim. They will be an advancement of the photographic legacy of Iceland and they will sit loud and proud at the top of the podium along with the other great images that I researched before going there. They will be beacons, luring other photographers to visit this remarkable place. The images that I am creating, however, will not be picked up by the travel magazines. They will not become 20 foot high posters greeting you when you leave your plane and begin your adventure. I am in danger because they will likely fail in all regards, except for one – they will succeed in my mind because they represent the feelings I experienced as I wandered through that magnificent part of the world.