When a travel has been so overwhelming, so intense, I find it really difficult to know where to begin.
I'll just say that Iceland has been a long time travelling dream, and it took me like 10 minutes to think "Hell yes !" when I have been proposed to participate to an 11 days road trip there. (I have to clarify that it was really financially unreasonable, otherwise, I would have say yes instantly, just after a fake hesitation).
5 photographers and 2 models leaving Paris to land in Reykjavik, and discover this amazing country. Beautiful souls that I am happy to call friends now.
I am deeply excited to share this adventure with all of you.
The purpose of this post is not only to show you pictures of aesthetic beauty, but also simple, candid or even funny memories, sometimes took with professional cameras, sometimes with an iPhone. As a travel notebook.
Maybe this will allow you to feel like a member of the team during this trip !
Here is the beautiful and talented people I lived this adventure with :
Solenne - http://www.solennejakovsky.com/
Karole - http://www.karolejosefabonnet.net/
Marion - http://www.marioncolombani.fr/
Piergab - http://www.lesphotosdepiergab.fr/
Gabrielle - https://www.gabriellemalewski.com/
The first real day of this trip began at Geysir, in a warm and cosy horse farm, lost in the snowy plains not far from Reykjavik. We are discovering Iceland's cold and sometimes violent winds of this mid-march.
By the way, the first conversation we had with an Icelandic was on this particular matter, at the car rental's office : winds are so powerful here that it is common for visitors to open their cars doors recklessly and have it brutally collapsed on the wrong side.
After a nice breakfast, passed mostly in awe of the view, we headed out to the volcanic site of Geysir to see geysers !
Karole, beautiful as always. As you will see during all this article, her hair color looked wonderful with Iceland mood and landscapes.
Now let's go see some Geysers !
I only knew two people of the team before this trip : Karole and Solenne.
So at this stage of the trip, I still was learning to know my companions. But I already could tell that Piergab had an innate sense of fashion. And really graceful photographic moves.
It was fun to see large group of people totally under-estimate the potential explosion of these geysers, and thus ending up entirely soaked !
We had some of the strongest and coldest winds of the trip at Gullfoss, and we were impressed by the Icelandic horses resistance to this harsh climate. Nabil was able to have constructive conversation with one of them.
Appart from that, Gullfoss is amazing. Two falls combined one after another, 70 meters wide and 30 meters tall. This is our first "Woaw effect" triggered purely by the hugeness of a landscape.
On the road to Secret Lagoon
On our way to have a warm swim in the secret lagoon, we were stopped by this mineral filled river and its incredible color. We had a little hike around it and made a lot of pictures. We can already tell by the pictures that our team members are starting to feel comfortable between each others, and that friendships are appearing or getting even stronger.
It was really painful to bring my camera with me above the water of secret lagoon. This heavy steam instantly covered the camera and lense with water. The water smelled sulfur and had a greasy feeling, between regular water and oil.
Of course we didn't got out of there without drinking a cold local beer and making a selfie of the team !
We ended the day by seeing the impressive Seljalandsfoss. 65 meters high falls with the particularity of allowing you to walk behind it, being even more impressive there. The strong winds were pushing the falls water on the path to go behind it. We were mentally prepared to be totally soaked, and it was so worth it !
We had mixed feelings about this sunny day. On one hand, we came to Iceland to experience the full Icelandic weather : cold, dark, windy, snowy. But on the other hand, it was a total change of scenery. We even had the occasion to play with a new furry friend after breakfast, in the silence of these empty landscapes mornings, it was amazing.
En route to see the perhaps most famous falls of Iceland, Skogafoss ! Nabil was driving and Karole and I assumed the roles of Co-pilots. Thanks to Karole, we probably heard Ed Sheeran - Shape of you - for the 20th time at this point.
On this short video below you have a glimpse of these huge white plains, only cut in half by roads.
When it comes to Skogafoss, we saw it on its light side. Welcomed by a beautiful rainbow.
On the road to Dyrholaey
A photographer whom i admire the work once said that Iceland is like the fast-food of landscapes. You don't even have to get out of your car to have incredible sights. I was curious to see with my own eyes if it's exaggerated or not. Well, I now have my answer.
Iceland has hundreds of volcanoes with about 30 active volcanic systems. This is why earth and sand are black there. At some place you can clearly feel the volcanic activity around, you're not always able to tell why, but you know it's there.
We finally arrived to the black sand beaches, also known for these particular rock formations. We were once again impressed by the immensity of this place. I could have stayed here just enjoying the sight and wind for hours. We had some fun with Karole and Piergab, directing them as a couple just for the time of some pictures.
Night in Kirkjubaejarklaustur
Yep, that's the real name of the place. Two houses in the middle of nowhere, vast white plains, continuously battered by the cold winds. As you can see, there was almost no trees there, too harsh conditions for it to survive. Only a few were able to grow there, protected by the house.
Piergab, Nabil and I had the chance to enjoy an outdoor hot tub in the morning ! The settings were at 37°C but water only made it to 27°C. We had a run almost naked in the snow to jump in the water as quickly as possible ! The girls of our team weren't interested by this experience, we had no clue why ;)
Skaftafell - Svartifoss
We made this small and beautiful hike at Skaftafell to go see Svartifoss. By know, maybe you have understood that the noun Foss means waterfall in Icelandic. So when you see a word ended by foss, you know that it is the name of a waterfall.
When you will have seen this little episode of our trip, you will certainly have understood a second thing about Piergab : He likes to go to solitary spots and casually stare at the horizon. Haters will say that it's in hope of a fellow photographer noticing it and snapping some pictures of him as an adventurer, personally I won't say anything about it.
On the same principle that Foss, Jokull means glacier in Icelandic. So we went to see the glacier just near our hike of Skaftafell ! And let me tell you, it's not often that all of our group has been speechless about something. On the contrary, we were the kind of group to say stupid things about anything. And we loved that dynamic. But Skaftafellsjokull left us speechless. It is huge. These pictures doesn't render the vastness of the place at all, but we were like tiny ants compared to the glacier.
We stayed there some time, bathed in the violent winds, trying to memorize for ever this moment.
Road to Jokulsarlon
I couldn't wait to go see Jokulsarlon, the famous beach surrounded by tiny icebergs (or huge ice-cubes, depends on your vision). So we took the car from Skaftafellsjokull to Jokulsarlon. And found ourselves caught in our first snow tempest. powerful winds, snow flying to the horizontal. No vision after 10 meters. 10 minutes before, everything was "normal".
Finally, we arrived at the beach. I think it was the coldest moment of all the trip. My hands were freezing on the camera, in about 5 minutes of time. But despite these conditions, we had an intense smile when we saw the first icebergs. As you will see on the pictures of Karole, we felt true happiness there.
Road to Hverir
We drove through the mountains to go to Hverir, place of intense volcanic activity. As you will see, this drive was really special, between the mountains entirely coated by snow, and the low clouds, we had the sensation to drive on a cloud. Pure witness, all around us, and only road's black path, ahead of us.
While driving to Hverir, comes a moment where you start noticing thick steam, coming out of the ground, on the horizon.
Then you arrive, and as you start to walk toward the steam columns, you could believe you are entering an other world. You can actually see with your own eyes water boiling right on the ground. And there is this intense sulfur smell.
Akureyri is the 2nd biggest town in Iceland, and we had planned to stay there two days instead of usually one day. We were happy to be able to enjoy a house for more time, and thus felt at home immediatly. It was time to chill out a little, but as you can see, photographers just can't stop taking pictures for more than 30 minutes straight.
That moment when you notice that the curtains and the sunset makes an amazing light on the wall, and you want to shoot the only female model of the team with this light. But you know it's a tricky situation because she is exhausted and fed up with photographers constantly asking for pictures. And actually almost sleeping on the couch.
So you ask a first time, she says no, a second time, she stills hit you with her no. So you crack your fingers and start to use your best weapon to convince her : constantly ask the same question until she is so pissed off it's actually easier for her to make the pictures than enduring how annoying you are.
Karole starts crawling to the wall. Victory !
(You can see a little color manipulation to better match wall's color with Karole's hair color.)
Exhaustion also makes us want to shoot perfectly comfortably.
Finally, some northern lights
Seeing northern lights was truly the peak of our travel. I can tell you one thing, it's that you are not prepared to see this. We all have seen thousands of pictures and videos of northern lights. But in real, there is no comparison.
You think you won't be that impressed, and when the sky entirely fill up with these dancing lights, changing forms and colors as quickly, directly above your head, all you can do is keep the mouth open and say "woaw".
(And also scream "Somebody give me a tripod, please please please, a tripooooddd !!!)
Cute little village with a church and some houses, typically showing Icelandic architecture.
Road to Borgarbyggð through the mountains
We had to drive through the mountains to reach our house for the night. We were hit by the strongest snow storm of the trip. We could actually feel the car moved to the left and the right by the winds. With no cell phone coverage, that was definitely not the place for the car to let us down.
BUT by then we had definitely developped mentals of steel, and part of the team was sleeping in the back of the car. You'll have to do better to impress them, Iceland.
Chill evening and night at Borgarbyggð . Nabil even had the chance to get a massage. Lucky him.
Road to Búðakirkja
Let's again on the road, to see the black church of Búðakirkja this time.
I even had the chance to make pictures of Karole in some bushes, along the road. I was quite happy with this photo, until someone told me she looks like a character of the Twilight movies.
Last days in Reykjavik
That's it. Final days in Iceland, staying in Reykjavik. We enjoyed the city, and visited the surroundings, like the lighthouse.
The Kex, beautiful backpack hostel hosted us during this stay. We were already quite sad to imagine leaving Iceland in a few days, so we tried to compensate with beers. Sounds good, doesn't work.
When you are bored, so you start asking weird things to your friends, like holding ice cold algae on their face, and they actually do it, because they are nice.
We ended these days by making artistic pictures, and developping new seduction techniques for Solenne.
This trip is finished. I can sincerely say it was the best trip I experienced in my life, for now. I consider everyone on this photo as my friends, and for the closest ones, my travel family.
Next adventure ? Maybe a 5000km road trip in Australia, for 2018...