In 2015 I traveled to Iceland to create content for Samsung Mobile USA, this is what sparked my interest in photography as a career, and a trip that contained some of my most cherished memories of my entire life. On my left was always my cinematographer Ryan Neal Cordwell, who had enough jokes and little idiosyncrasies to last a few lifetimes, we had only met once before departing to Iceland together and in the process gained one hell of a friend. Together making many more friendships (some human, some non) as we took our Defender to and from so many beautiful and iconic locations around the country.
Fast forward to 2016, I departed back to Iceland this time without Ryan. Sure enough, about one week into the trip I called Ryan to take a lead on cinematography projects and 2 days later we were back to being idiots together roaming around the country in a beloved Defender, intermediately eating free bread at the KEX hostel to keep our stomachs full. Pictured below is Gudlaug Elisa, a model in Iceland and one of the wittiest people I’ve ever met. She is one of those people who will say something so unexpected it leaves you scratching your head, grinning, and curious on what will be said next. Additionally she is one of the best models i’ve ever worked with and it was humbling being able to share laughs and experiences together.
There is one memory that will always be incredibly special. I remember the connection Ryan & I made with Loki, a beautiful wild arctic fox on the southern coast of Iceland. For some reason, he trusted me as if I was one of his one. I spent nearly two hours in these mossy hills playing with Loki as he batted his front paws up into the sky, hiding around the rocks waiting for me to find him, and putting his cold nose onto my cheek. Even when writing about this experience and sharing this story, it seems way too surreal to actually have happened. Loki is a constant reminder and inspiration to live each beautiful day alive and with love.
As we drove to the Glacier Lagoon, Heidar (pictured below) told me that the swell might be good enough to surf. Our hope was to get the best of both worlds around the huge glaciers and then out in the waves. When we got there, to our surprise there weren’t a ton of tourists but enough where you still might want to grit your teeth. As Heidar threw on his wetsuit, all of the tourists were amazed to see this long haired Icelandic man jetting through the cold waters with his surf board. As the rain poured down, our camera gear suffered as we were soon barely able to take any clear photographs without ferociously wiping the lenses. Heidar looked out into the ocean and declared that it wasn’t surf-able and soon after our friend Bruin cannonballed into the lagoon butt naked without a care in the world. The tourists at this point thought we were a pretty wild group; we didn’t mind.
So many beautiful moments were had in our latest Iceland expedition. Whether it was eating cheerios in the middle of a snowstorm, eating shit while hiking to the top of Skogafoss, getting drunk with strangers at our hostel, or breaking what seemed like every 4x4 we rented in the country. These moments translated into beautiful images and cinematography that I will cherish forever. Although I am not particularly well traveled when it comes to countries outside of North America, I know that Iceland will forever be my favorite place in the entire world. It’s refreshing local culture and the people who make up those cultures are non-comparable to anything else in the entire world. I encourage everybody to experience Iceland deeper than the average tourist.