Interview with Rafn in “Stuck in Iceland” Magazine 2021
Documenting Iceland with photos and videos
About six years ago, I interviewed Icelandic photographer Rafn Sigurbjörnsson about his Icelandic photo book series called ‘Wild Iceland – the untouched nature. The eight-book series was created in less than one year. Rafn has not in any way stopped documenting Iceland with photos and videos.
The best website if you want to immerse yourself in Icelandic visuals
His website is probably the best place to start if you want to immerse yourself in Icelandic visuals. You can download free photobooks from Iceland and view a vast range of photos from Iceland for free. Rafn offers his fans stock photos for sale, and if this is not enough for you Iceland fans out there, he regularly publishes impressive drone footage from Iceland on his popular YouTube channel. He even creates the music featured in the videos! I have to say that even if I have spent almost nine years publishing content related to Iceland, my efforts pale in comparison.
Hey Rafn, thank you for taking the time for the interview. You certainly have not slowed down documenting Iceland since we spoke last time. What drives you?
My fascination with Icelandic nature and geologic diversity is endless on this small beautiful island. It does not matter where you are – the beauty is there. There is always something new to see; even if I come to the same place, again and again, it’s different each time. The light, weather, etc., change the place constantly, so it’s always a new place and new photographic motives to be found. How can this not drive me on?
What are your favorite Icelandic places to photograph or film, and why?
Yes, I have often been asked this question, and I have thought about it a lot. I always come up with the same answer and “It’s the spot that I’m on that moment.” Beauty is so relative, and the value of beauty is so different. It’s often just a question of seeing the beauty that surrounds you, and if you succeed – then it’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen and been to.
You never enter photo competitions. Why is that?
There are many reasons why I do not participate in photography competitions. Most of the competition rules are similar, you waive the rights to your photo, and the contestant can use your photo without your consent almost anywhere and anytime. For companies, this is an affordable way to get images in the cheapest way possible. They are even looking for something special in the image that best suits their advertising purpose. Still, you pay an entrance fee. I have developed a certain style of photography that does not suit everyone. If I am satisfied with the result, I’m the winner.
More photographers are staying away from photography competitions
Photography is often of an emotional nature, and you can’t expect another person to have the same feeling as you for the subject as they were not on the scene. I can not expect a judge to look at thousands of pictures to choose the right one. They are too tired and bored to be able to choose the right one. My opinion is that if you are happy with the photo you took, then you are the winner. Others do not have to like them.
More and more professional photographers are moving into this thinking, and I find it interesting and understandable.
Your YouTube channel is a source of excellent drone footage from Iceland. What advice would you give to those who want to film with a drone here?
Iceland is an endless source of beautiful places. You can stop anywhere and get excellent drone footage. Respect the privacy of the individuals and follow the Icelandic rules on Drone Flight. PS. Iceland is much more than the ring road.
Can you share what kind of drone and equipment you use in documenting Iceland?
I´m using DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone with filters from Kase, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera, and 7D as a backup. I also use the following equipment: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2,8 II USM; Tamron SP 24 – 70 F2,8 USD; Canon EF 70-200mm f/2,8L IS II USM; Canon EF 100 – 400 f/4,5-5,6L IS USM; Canon EF 100mm f/2,8 Macro USM; Manfrotto Tripods; Kase Filters (Wolverine 100 x 150 – CPL, ND, GND, CGND, RGND and lot of other stuff. It depends on what I´m doing.
You have offered photography tours in Iceland for a long time. What advice can you give people going to Iceland for the first time?
Don’t try to explore Iceland in 7 days. Take your time in designated areas and enjoy what you see. It takes years to explore this small island. Iceland is bigger than that. In fact, you could easily get “Stuck in Iceland.”