30 Sep From Iceland With Love
Ten years have passed since I moved to Iceland. To this day, it remains without a doubt the most important, deciding moment of my life, a turning point, the eye of the storm around which everything else still whirls in a tornado. It was in Iceland that my career first took off and my work materialized in its present form; it was in Iceland that I met some of the most important and influential people in my life; and it was there that I grew and developed, as a professional and as a human. Ten years later, I take stock of the snowball effect this change caused, as well as of all the things that captivated me, at first sight and a bit later, and kept me coming back to this frozen paradise.
I wasn’t particularly young or inexperienced when the move happened, as people usually are when their own big events strike them. I was working as a videographer in my native Madrid, Spain, focusing on documentary work, particularly in environmental topics. When an opportunity arose to spend a few months up north working on local green projects, I took it without hesitation.
I wasn’t particularly young or inexperienced. Still, it was my first time living and working outside of my home country, using another language I wasn’t fluent in, experiencing life as an outsider in a small, tight-knit Nordic community. Looking back at my initial struggles, I can’t help but think that it is precisely these uprooting circumstances that formed a deciding trait of my personality – curiosity for differences, willingness to adapt, and an inclination for challenging situations that make me feel slightly uncomfortable.
I loved Iceland instantly. I loved it straight away for the same reasons that everyone loves Iceland: it is gorgeous. But I also loved it for many deeply ingrained, small and hidden things. I guess I loved it because there was so much about it to discover and love.
There was a certain careless attitude towards life on the island that instantly caught my attention and affection. I saw it on state level as much as in individuals: this was a nation that understood its position on a global scale as, mildly put, not very important. A paradox lies in comprehending your own insignificance in the grand scheme of things. When you see your thoughts or actions as something without any profound meaning, you are suddenly free to do whatever you feel like doing without worrying much about how it will turn out. So here were musicians not fretting over record sales; artists letting their art flow without any regard for popularity or conventional success; people doing whatever crossed their minds without giving a second thought about “what-will-people-think”. As they say, þetta reddast.
I loved Iceland so much I decided to stay. After my environmental projects finished, I started a company with a friend, through which we organized photography workshops.
Then, the volcano erupted.
This was the first time I did time-lapse photography. Just like that, my career was reshaped and I emerged as an aspiring professional from this wild, out-of-this-world experience. Afterwards, I stayed in Iceland as a free artist, shooting my own projects as I saw them fit.
I discovered that there is nothing I enjoy more than being outside, exposed to the weather, almost stranded in secluded places, calmly waiting for that perfect moment to capture it on film. These long waits exercised my patience and perseverance, and clearly set my career onto the path it is still following today.
Eventually, I moved away, wanting to grow further as a professional, needing to move away from being “that guy that shoots Iceland”. I set up a base back in Madrid, where the excellent airline connections made it easy for me to be constantly on the move.
Still, to this day, I catch myself gravitating towards Iceland, to its clean, peaceful, almost intimate society, to its surprisingly warm and welcoming inhabitants, even to its unpredictable climate and baffling winds. I catch myself daydreaming of a quiet life in a wooden mountain house with a steeply-pitched roof overlooking a lonely fjord. Maybe it’s there that I will live through the closing chapters of my life, occasionally looking up to find the Northern Lights dancing in the sky.