Travelling around northern Iceland was a challenge photographically. Not because there wasn’t anything to shoot, quite the opposite, there was too much to shoot. Doing the landscapes justice and creating images that weren’t the same as millions of others was difficult.
While I was shooting landscapes I found myself drawn to the roads. They seemed to be one of the few things that seemed to add scale and a sense of drama to the shots. I ended up shooting hundreds of road shots. The black winding paths leading into these vast and dramatic landscapes seemed to anchor the shot perfectly, especially after a mono treatment. The contrast between natural and man made, the hard surfaces mirroring the often harsh vistas…This shot gives me the feeling I had when I was there.
On a recent trip to northern Iceland I was struck by the remote locations the human race choose to build their homes. Yes, many of these dwellings are working farms which at least go someway to explain why they would be in the middle of nowhere with nothing but old volcanic formations surrounding them.
The views are absolutely awesome but it did get me thinking. Living in such an area with virtually no other human life for miles around must make for a totally different outlook on life. Iceland is a well developed country but shopping for basics, ensuring there are enough provisions and essentials available in times of extreme weather must take some planning. We take diverse social interactions for granted in the UK but over there, everyone knows everyone else’s business, all of it.
Then there is the social side of things. I met a young couple while I was there, Judith was German and was well travelled before settling in Iceland for the past year. She was dating a young lad who was from a local farm. On chatting she was desperate to get him off the island to travel and see the world with him. She wanted him to experience other cultures and the world, open his mind. Bear in mind he had only been to the nations capital, Rejkyavik, a few times and “didn’t like the bustle”. It struck me it might not be quite as easy as she was obviously hoping. He didn’t seem quite as keen as she did although he quite fancied the UK cos he wanted to see the “funny sheep” (apparently we have odd looking sheep!).
The couple admitted that life was very different from that which I know in the UK and there were many compromises that had to be made. Judith constantly mocked it but Oli unashamedly loved the way he lived. He had great plans to buy a JCB (in much demand in Iceland) and working it all over the island. His only regret about his lifestyle seemed to be what he described as “awful New Years Eve parties!”
Whatever, the remoteness of these dwellings is a fantastic backdrop for setting scale amongst the vast volcanic landscape that is Iceland. I found myself drawn towards them like a moth to a flame and shot hundreds of frames of them.
I did a re-shoot of this one as I wasn’t happy with the previous version. The little glade I’ve known about for years and I knew it would be perfect for this one.
Location: Nr Chippenham, Wiltshire, UK
I’d shot this lyric before but wasn’t happy with the result so couldn’t resist it when I recently visited Iceland on a stark, cold day. The friend who actually clicked the shutter thought I’d lost it but did it for me anyway so thanks Ian!
The song means a lot to me personally so I wanted to be in it and I wanted it to be dramatic, I hope it has the cinematic feel I was after and says far more than the obvious.
Anyway, here it is!
Some songs have an opening line that just sticks in the mind and ever since The Stranglers released Hanging Around (it’s been a few years now!) this one stuck in mine.
It’s one of those shots I’ve always had in my head and I needed the right model and the right kind of venue. Little did I realise it was literally less than a mile away from my home! I was chatting the idea over with Tinkerbella and she suggested a disused large old industrial unit. I immediately knew where one was.
When we got there it was perfect. I had some equipment malfunction issues with my remote flash trigger so shot with on camera light. I’m glad I did as the result throws a massive shadow onto the huge corrugated wall making her even bigger than my lying on the tarmac shooting position was already making her. It also helps (with the slight wonky angle) give a feel of impromptu snap which also goes well with the idea. Tinks pose topped it off. I’d always pictured the ‘girl in the red dress’ as being bold and sassy with a sort of ‘night out on the town’ feel.
Fields of Gold is one of Sting’s best known songs and I wouldn’t normally choose it but I’ve always thought this line is one of his most sexy.
It’s kinda one of those things always talked about as romantic and a bit dreamy, every school boys fantasy. A roll in the golden corn on a warm summer’s day.
The shoot was an odd one really as we shot the ‘hanging’ one first and it was only after Tinkerbella found a small area of un-harvested ‘barley’ that we decided to shoot it. We had to quickly change our mindset and mood to shoot something totally different which isn’t always easy. I wasn’t sure it should be a nude but when we shot it, it just seemed pure and right.
(On a sidenote about the song, it’s always slightly annoyed me that on the recording, Sting does that annoying thing of ‘softening’ the hard p’s and b’s in words to stop popping in the microphone. Consequently words like ‘upon’ become ‘uvon’ and ‘barley’ occasionally change to ‘varley’. Personally I’d rather a slight pop!)
Model: Tinkerbella Location: Wiltshire
I went to Newbury in Berkshire UK of all places to take this shot. It’s again a bleak setting with disturbing subject material.
I must have heard The Cure’s, Subway Song, over 35 years ago and it’s always one that’s haunted me. Being a man, I have no idea really what this feeling must be like. It is surely most female’s nightmare.
The walking rhythmic bassline, the haunting harmonica, Smith’s whispered vocal, and the pulsing high-hat drag you in to the frankly awful, blood curdling climax. Rarely does a song have such drama in such a short space of time. It lasts 1.54 minutes in total and it’s too long! I hate it but love it at the same time.
Don’t listen to it if you don’t know it….but you must!