January 27, 2015
Images and words by Laura Austin
Every photographer has a different reason compelling them to click the shutter — from interesting faces, to masterfully crafted food, beautiful women, or compelling still life. For me that range of subjects is quite broad, but my trigger finger gets most antsy when I am standing in the middle of a beautiful sprawling landscape. For this reason, I am surprised my finger didn’t fall of while I was on a two-week trip back in May of 2013 to Iceland.
Packed into a tiny car with my family, we spent 14 days driving the circumference of Europe’s most sparsely populated country. It seemed every ten minutes I was asking to pull over so I could hop out of the car and shoot photos. Due to the fact that Iceland is volcanically and geologically active, the landscape change dramatically throughout the country. One minute you are driving past hillsides with raging waterfalls, then along a black-sand coastline, lakes filled with glaciers, and completely flat, dried up, lava fields. The lack of trees there made for the most beautiful sprawling landscapes; I was in my own personal photo heaven.
When traveling, in an effort to experience as much as possible with the time I have, I make a point not to stay in one place for too long. This trip was no different. A dip in the large, warm creamy geothermal Blue Lagoon was an absolute must, as well as ice climbing the Sólheimajökull glacier with my sister. I also think it is important to experience the local cuisine when travelling, no matter how odd it may seem. In Iceland, the fermented shark and lamb head (we are talking a full lamb head on a plate) were among the oddest things I have eaten while abroad.
Basically every square inch of Iceland is photogenic, but the most breathtaking place for me personally was the glacial lake, Jökulsárlón. It was here that I captured one of my favorite images ever — my sister in a red hood overlooking the floating icebergs. Iceland as a whole seems like something out of this world with its surreal landscapes. It isn’t surprising films such as Interstellar decide to film in Iceland when needing a location that looks like a different planet.
It was on this trip that I decided to quit my job and pursue a career as a full-time freelance photographer. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere with my camera, I was so in my element that I knew I needed to get away from my desk job in order to continue having these experiences. I gave my notice a week after I returning to Los Angeles and since then it has just been me and my camera — and I couldn’t be happier. So thank you Iceland for helping me realize what truly made me happy.
Check out more images from Laura’s travel in Iceland >