On Photographing Iceland

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There are over 3 million pictures of Iceland on Flickr. There are 13.5 million images of Canada, a ratio of 4.5 to 1. The area of Iceland is 103,000 square kilometers, while Canada’s area is 10 million square kilometers, a ratio of nearly 100 to 1. People really like to photograph Iceland! Most of the pictures on Flickr are dramatic shots of landscapes, northern lights or sheep and horses. What can one photographer say that hasn’t already been said?

After scratching my head for a bit, I’ve decided to focus on the evident battle that Icelanders wage every day just to keep a toehold on this wild land. Take the top photograph as an example, here is a beautiful red-roofed family farm that was virtually buried in volcanic ash and mud in 2010. Every part of this farm had to be dug out by family members.

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Things don’t always work out. Above are a couple of photos of an abandoned farm on the Snaefellsnes peninsula with the sombre family cemetary plot looking out over the bleak landscape.

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In the picture above, we have the lovely town of Vestmannaeyjar, situated on the Westman Islands. In 1973, the 4,000 residents of the islands were evacuated due to a volcanic eruption. The lava in the foreground looms over the town. Nearly all of the islanders returned after the eruption to dig out and rebuild their town.

The pictures below capture more farms and settlements on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, illustrating the difficulties of eking a living out of this inhospitable land.

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