Year in Review 2019: Photography Skip to content

Year in Review 2019: Photography

Words by
Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

Photography by
Golli

For the past year, we've travelled all over the country, capturing snapshots of people, animals, and places to share their stories in the magazine. Unfortunately, not every image makes it into the magazine so we'll take this chance to show you some of our favourite unpublished images from 2019.

Although glacier hiking is becoming a popular tourist activity, only a select few get the chance to explore the volcanic heart of Iceland’s largest glacier, Grímsvötn

Imported to the country in the 18th century, Iceland’s reindeer aren’t farmed. They roam the countryside in East Iceland, with no natural predator except for hunting season, once a year. 

Guns are tools, not weapons, and despite widespread gun ownership, gun violence is blissfully rare.

Public pools are a mundane luxury and the regulars are often blessed with a jovial sense of humour. 

Late this year, the country got an uncomfortable reminder of nature’s forces in the form of a winter storm, causing widespread blackouts and resulting in the untimely death of a teenager. Living, working, and travelling this far north requires a humble attitude towards weather conditions. 

Life on a subarctic island would be a lot less comfortable without geothermal heat – keeping our buildings comfortably warm, our hot tubs hot and in some cases, allowing us to produce flaky sea salt in an environmentally friendly manner. 

Tryggur is the loyal sidekick to wool-dyer and herbalist Guðrún Bjarnadóttir. He’s a very good boy.

Growing up in Iceland, the northern lights are as much a part of daily (nightly) life as the moon and the stars. Pretty to look at, but you take it for granted. It took foreign interest in the lights and an influx of tourism for many Icelanders to start appreciating this natural spectacle. 

One of the nation’s most beloved actors, Ingvar E Sigurðsson is, to many, the face of Icelandic cinema. Much like the tip of the proverbial iceberg, most of the action happens beneath the surface. 

Bred in isolation on the island for a thousand years, the Icelandic horse adapted to the land’s rough terrain and the needs of the people who lived there. 

Life in a small town is precarious. It takes enormous strength for a community to survive and adapt to a rapidly changing world, let alone to thrive. It’s not a sure thing yet but the people of Borgarfjörður Eystri are putting all their energy into redefining their existence – hoping to find a way to evolve while holding on to what makes their town unique. 

Steinunn Káradóttir comes from a long line of fishermen. She’s been fishing with her father since she was 12 years old and the 5.30 am departure time for their lumpfish excursion is a late start in her books. 

The Icelandic horse is well-suited to living outdoors all year round. It’s better for their physical need for exercise and allows for a more varied diet as well. It’s only in extreme conditions such as the recent winter storm that this is unsafe. 

During summer, when the midnight sun is the source of seemingly endless energy, it’s tempting to get out of the city every chance you get. 

How often do you consider what happens to your garbage once its out of your house?

The Icelandic sheepdog has never been put on the same pedestal as the country’s breed of horses and sheep. In fact, Icelanders thought so little of their “best friend” through the centuries that during the 20th century, the breed almost died out. It took an outsider, an Englishman by the name of Mark Watson, to recognise the value of these friendly and fluffy creatures. 

There’s nothing quite as refreshing as starting your day by stepping out into a bracing cold day before taking a dive into the warm geothermal waters of the public pools

Next time you’re in northeast Iceland, stop by the GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths in Húsavík. Designed by Basalt Architects, the baths seem to appear out of nowhere, situated right on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the wide Skjálfandi bay and the Kinnarfjöll mountain range on the other side. 

Hjaltalín, one of the country’s most innovative bands of the past decade, has been laying low for a few years. The group has been through a lot together and its members are proud to be a part of it. “Hjaltalín feels like home for us. We’re all doing our own stuff, but Hjaltalín is the constant, the mainstay.”

The island has more sheep than people, but for the past few decades, wool has been an underutilised resource. 

Flatey island is the last inhabited islands of the Breiðajförður fjord. On a warm summer night, illuminated by the midnight sun, it feels like taking a step back in time. 

Seasons are a state of mind. Even at the height of summer, snow is only a few hours drive away. 

According to author Einar Kárason, telling stories is the way Icelanders communicate. 

For years, Stöðvarfjörður was affectionately known as Little Moscow, on account of the town’s history of left-leaning politics. Today, there’s not much evidence of that history left. 

These friendly horses in the Westfjords were the cover models for the February March issue of Iceland Review

Bubbi Morthens has been a driving force in the country’s music history for nearly forty years. Sober for more than two decades, his trouble-making days are behind him but he’s not afraid to be political and speak on society’s injustices. 

Some 50-odd years ago, NASA astronauts trained for the Apollo 11 moon landing on Icelandic soil. Now, Iceland and NASA are teaming up again, as the country’s otherworldly volcanic plains are also the perfect setting to get acquainted with conditions on Mars.

Strongmen competitions such as the Westfjord Viking remain a popular sport, despite the health risks.

Once a year, the Glaciological Society travels to the heart of Vatnajökull glacier to take measurements and monitor the ice cap’s status. Unfortunately, the news aren’t good.

The three huts at the centre of Iceland largest glacier, Vatnajökull, make for a modest accommodation. The only luxury is the steam bath, made possible by the geothermal heat constantly bubbling underneath the ice cap. 

Billabong doesn’t have a store here; there’s no winter sale on Hawaiian-print shorts. Feeling the cold, dark-blue North Atlantic waves wash over you is very different from feeling the warm, azure waves of the Pacific. Still, surfing on the waves of the North Atlantic Ocean is an increasingly popular sport. 

During hunting season in East Iceland, life revolves around reindeer. Even though the East Icelanders never learnt the Sami way of reindeer herding, there are plenty of people who make their living off the reindeer. 

the extremes of Iceland’s nature are nowhere more apparent than where the country’s largest ice cap sits atop an active volcano, constantly melting the ice from below. 

They say when you travel in Iceland, you see a lot of water. The interplay of waterfalls surrounded by ice and the winter light are part of what makes the country unique. 

You might think that glaciers are one big uninterrupted filed of ice and snow but they have a landscape of their own.

This young entrepreneur was spotted in the Westfjords this summer, selling his wares to passersby. 

From everyone at Iceland Review, we wish you a happy new year. 

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