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With its epic landscapes, unique-natural light, and overall beauty, Iceland is an ideal destination for photographers. Here, we profile 11 professional and amateur photographers based in Iceland who use the landscape to reflect not only on the landscape but on culture and society as well—especially the everyday aspects.
Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson (1981) graduated from the Icelandic Academy of the Arts in 2007. His work falls between art photography and documentary, which one can see both threads of in his work. He published the monograph Þess á milli/Inbetween in 2008 and had photographs in the book Frontiers of Another Nature: Pictures from Iceland in 2012. He ran the art-book publisher Útúrdúr in Reykjavik for many years where he lives and works as a commercial photographer.
Friðgeir Helgason (1966) lives in Iceland and Los Angeles, and he studied Cinematography at Los Angeles City College. He has created collections in Iceland and LA and has had numerous exhibitions in both places. Helgason’s work often reflects the mood of these disparate places, although he makes a continuation of vision from both places through the lens.
German-born Daniel Reuter (1976) has been based in Reykjavík for many years. He has an MFA in Photography from the University of Hartford in Connecticut. His first book, History of the Visit—which integrates a topographical survey of landscapes in Iceland with personal biography using rich textural details—was nominated for the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Award in 2013. His work has been exhibited in Europe, the US, and Japan.
Bragi Þór Jósefsson is a professional photographer based in Reykjavik. He studied at the Rochester Insitute of Technology in New York before moving back to Iceland in 1986. His international clients have included The Globe, The Guardian, Monocle, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. His work includes interiors, portraits, landscapes, and cityscapes, with an extremely sleek and straightforward directness.
Katrín Elvarsdóttir (1964) studied French literature at the University of Iceland and photography at the Art Institute of Boston. Her direct shots give viewers the impression of seeing the incomplete fragments of a story as it unfolds. She uses certain film aesthetics that lets the viewer feel the presence of the lens, and this self-awareness allows for the blurring of fact and fiction. Elvarsdóttir has had solo exhibitions at many museums and galleries both in Reykjavík and abroad including fashion and editorial photography as well as fine-art projects. She has had two monographs, Equivocal (2011) and Vanished Summer (2013), published by Crymogea, Iceland’s foremost art-book publisher.
Spessi Hallbjörnsson (1956) studied photography at the Vrie Akademie in The Hague, Holland until 1994. He has been shown in numerous solo and group shows in Iceland, Europe, and the US. He is known for his portrayals of cowboys and motorcycle gangs in the US. Even when not portraying characters, every object of his work becomes portrait-like. He has had multiple monographs published including Chicken Fajitas in the Manner of Google, Mexican Corn Soup, and Chocolate Ice Cream (2008) and The CEO of Today (2008).
Sigriður Ella Frímansdóttir (1980) studied photography in Reykjavík. She published First and Foremost I Am in 2016 which features 21 portraits and personal texts from people with Downs Syndrome. She published Bloodgroup in 2014, a series of photographs of the Icelandic-electronic band, Bloodgroup. She has been included in exhibitions in Iceland and Europe.
Claudia Hausfeld (1980) is from Berlin and studied photography at the Zürich University of the Arts in Switzerland and at the Art Academy of Iceland, where she currently teaches photography. She has been part of artist collectives in Iceland, Denmark, and Switzerland. Hausfeld uses photography as a base for everything she does from collage to installations. Her work questions time itself and is often a reflection of that inquiry, translated into representations of what is visible.
Anne Rombach (1984) is from the Black Forest in Germany. She trained as a photographer at the Academy of Visual Art in Leipzig and later received an MFA from Iceland Academy of the Arts, where she currently teaches photography. Rombach’s work has the ability to turn heavy subject matter into lighthearted affairs, often using humor and a playfulness to remark on the everyday occurrences in which we interact. Her MFA project, for example, was about nothingness. She has exhibited in Iceland and Europe.
Bjorn Arnason (1983) studied photography in Iceland. He focuses on everyday life with a minimalist gesture that exposes the space between moments. His sparse shots of Icelandic expanses of nature include details which affect the surroundings as much as the object.
Hallgerður Hallgrímsdóttir (1984) is known as the ‘woman who claims Icelandic Elves are better than Icelandic men.’ She creates series with found photographs as well as her own, reinvented in a new context that speaks about photography itself. Her recent series, Hvassast, studies the poetic moments of everyday-Icelandic life with words used to describe the weather. The rich-Icelandic vocabulary used for weather descriptions connects the images to this very-beloved topic of conversation in Iceland. She has had solo exhibitions in Iceland and Europe. She studied Fine Art Photography at the University of Glasgow and Textile Design at Iceland Academy of the Arts.