Iceland’s Winning Press Photos of 2021


The Journalists’ Association of Iceland announced the 2021 Press Photo of the Year winners last Saturday at the 2021 Press Photo exhibition opening at Reykjavík’s Museum of Photography. The winning photo, seen above, was taken by Vilhjálmur Gunnarson, and features, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Geldingadalir eruption, which began in March and lasted until September of 2021.

The jury described the photo as “An interesting, strong and original picture of one of the biggest news stories in a challenging year.”

News Photo of the Year


Vilhjálmur also won in the category of News Photo of the Year, for the above photo, titled “Where is Svandís?” The shot features Iceland’s new cabinet following the September 2021 parliamentary elections setting up for a group photo, with Minister of Food and Agriculture Svandís Svavarsdóttir nowhere to be found. The jury praised its humorous take on a classic subject.

Sports Photo of the Year

Kristinn Magnússon won in the category of Sports Photo of the Year, for this capture of a tender moment where Deane William’s girlfriend comforts him after his team has lost a game, while the winning team celebrates in the background.

Magazine Photo of the Year


This colourful shot by Hörður Sveinsson, featuring musician John Grant, was the winner in the Magazine Photo of the Year category. The jury praised its powerful colours and unusual shapes, which the photographer and subject clearly put a lot of effort into.

Environment Photo of the Year


Like the winning Photo of the Year, the winner in the Environment category, taken by Sigtryggur Ari Jóhannsson, also features the Geldingadalir eruption, though in a different light. The jury noted how the image appears black and white, but a closer look reveals subtle colours. The shot shows fresh lava about to flow over earthen dams, built to direct the flow of the eruption. 

Everyday Life Photo of the Year

Photographer Heiða Helgadóttir snapped a winner when she captured Una Margrét Jónsdóttir and Hólmsteinn Eiður Hólmsteinsson, married for 20 years, using a special form of communication that has helped them discuss difficult issues throughout their relationships: letting imaginary “finger people” discuss the topics on their behalf.

Portrait of the Year


Páll Stefánsson won the Portrait of the Year category for his shot of artist Shu Yi at the opening of her exhibition at Mutt Gallery last year. The jury praised the photo for its stylistic purity and calm but strong energy.

Photo Series of the Year

Heiða Helgadóttir shot this year’s winning series, which features Pétur Guðmann Guðmannsson, one of Iceland’s two professional forensic pathologists. All the autopsies Pétur carries out have the goal of determining the individual’s cause of death. The jury praised Heiða for her well-thought-out approach, and for portraying difficult subject matter in a way that was tasteful and professional, while still striking.

The exhibition features 102 photos in total, and can be seen at the Reykjavík Museum of Photography until May 29, 2022.

Interested readers can also browse the Press Photos of 2020 and Press Photos of 2019, in which Iceland Review photographer Golli was awarded.

Iceland Review Photographer Wins Press Photo and Photo Series of the Year

Vatnajökull Grímsfjall Grímsvötn Bárðarbunga Kverkfjöll Jöklar Jökull Vísindi

Iceland Review photographer and publisher Kjartan Þorbjörnsson, known as Golli, has won the 2019 Press Photo of the Year and Photo Series of the Year. Golli’s winning photograph, seen above, was taken during an annual research trip on Vatnajökull glacier. The jury described the photograph as an “impactful and symbolic picture of human-driven climate change,” adding “The picture shows how small man is in comparison to nature and [shows] the ever-changing glacier from an interesting angle.”

Golli also won in the category of Best Photo Series for a group of photos from the same glacier trip, which the jury described as “a well-structured series that combines beautiful photos and a holistic narrative that concerns us all.”

Photo: Golli.

The Icelandic Press Photos of the Year have been awarded annually since 1979 by the Union of Icelandic Journalists. Golli’s six winning photos were chosen from 826 submissions from Icelandic photojournalists.

The winning photo was featured on the cover of Iceland Review’s fourth issue of 2019. An excerpt of the accompanying article is available online.

Photo: Berglind Jóhannsdóttir.

The winning photographs will be on display at Reykjavík’s Museum of Photography until May 30, 2020. See more of Golli’s photographs on Iceland Review’s Instagram account and Golli’s own.