The story behind… Jokulssarlon and me

I recently thought of a new category for my blog: ‘The story behind…’. On Facebook I saw this post showing what is really going on when a beautiful photograph is made. It’s funny to see but I think it’s also important people realise the world of photography is not always as glamourous as it looks. I can think of at least a couple photos I made where I knew the model (or myself) was not at all glamourous or even comfortable during the shoot but then it all turned out to be worth it in the end. I guess I’m a kind of a believer when it comes to the idea one must suffer for their art. Not that I intentionally make people suffer. Ahum. I just mean that, when you have something in mind and you want to create something special, sometimes you have to do things that are uncomfortable. Or weird. Or maybe even a little bit crazy.

Throwback to a few months ago, when I was in Iceland with Focus Magazine and Canon, and three talented and lovely fellow competitors for the Canon Grand Prix. It was a little before noon and we arrived at Jokulssarlon, a gorgeous glacier lake in the south of Iceland. I think each and every one of us was a bit stunned when we first laid eyes on this wonder of nature. And we weren’t alone. There were… – dun dun dun – tourists! Lots of them. Kids too. And then there I was, with a photo idea in my head which involved me being half naked while wearing a hat! I mean, it’s one thing to have these silly ideas in your head, it’s another to make other people become witness of your silliness! I told Mich from Focus Magazine about my idea and my worries, and he replied ‘So? Just do it!’. He said it like it was the most normal thing in the world.

And that was exactly what I needed, a little bit of encouragement to get over my own fears. Or maybe it was just a relief that someone didn’t think my idea was all that silly. The rest of the story involves me taking of my clothes in front of people (also, did I mention there were boats?), with a towel to cover the necessary bits (really no need to traumatize the kids) and running back and forth between the camera and my spot. But just as soon as I started doing all this, I forgot everyone around me, except for Mich who really helped me out with my coat and focussing, etc. Photography can do that to me. Make me forget all my worries and focus on just making this one thing a reality. And I’m very happy that I did so in this case. Because what if I hadn’t? I’d just have gotten home, beating myself up about it until the end of times. And that is quite a long time, believe me.

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© Els Vanopstal

Icelandic horses

A couple of weeks ago Canon and Focus Magazine took me and three other finalists to Iceland to make our final images for the Canon Grand Prix 2016 competition. I cannot share any of my final images yet, but I can share some photos I made of Iceland’s iconic inhabitants: the Icelandic horses. These rugged animals are kind and very curious, and I was very happy we were able to make a few stops during our road trip to photograph them.

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