Iceland is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders that are just begging to be photographed. So, it’s not surprising to see many photographers finding inspiration everywhere and coming up with different ways to capture it.
The unique landscape, for one, lends itself easily to beautiful abstract photography, as we have previously seen in the aerial photography of Jan Erik Waider. The view from the ground also opens up other visual elements that are perfect for abstract style, as Sydney-based photographer and motion designer Chris Harkin shows us in his “Impermanence” series.
As a creative, among his sources of inspiration and fascination is the natural world. His series featuring the surreal ice caves of Vatnajökull, Iceland is a testament to this. If you still have the island nation on your bucket list of places to shoot and get lost in, I’m sure these photos will inspire you even more.
A portrait of a changing world
Chris notes that he took the series inside one of the ice caves of Vatnajökull, which is actually a 2,500-year-old glacier.
Spanning approximately 3205 square miles (8,300 square kilometers) and measuring 1 km thick at its deepest point, it’s also the largest and most massive ice cap in the country. These details alone make the ancient glacier one of the most fascinating places on Earth to visit and of course, to immortalize in photographs.
He described the sights he captured as “frozen forms of an ever-changing world sculpted by the constant flow of water and wind.”
I find this a beautiful and accurate summary of all the details showcased in the series: The cool blue hues, the hypnotic curves and slopes of the ice, and the bubbles and ripples seemingly suspended in time. It makes me see the photos as a portrait of Iceland shaped by thousands of years of constant change, and is still changing.
Finding beauty in impermanence
“Impermanence,” without a doubt, is a message of caution about the state of the world we live in. What I find most compelling about it is how the series shows us the scale of what we’re currently losing.
“Due to rising temperatures and a decrease in snowfall, the glacier is estimated to be receding at a rate of about 1 meter per year,” Chris stressed in his project statement.
This series shows that Vatnajökull, as with most of Iceland itself, is filled with natural wonders that will one day disappear. There’s something poetic about documenting beauty that is bound to slip from our grasp. But there’s also a sense of urgency in that, which I find effectively represented by the idea of glacial ice standing for impermanence.
All photos by Chris Harkin. Used with Creative Commons permission.