This Photographer Took 10 Mesmerizing Self-Portraits In Front Of The Erupting Fagradalsfjall Volcano Interview With Artist
The volcanic eruption near Fagradalsfjall, a mountain in the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland has drawn quite a crowd. Since March, it has become one of the hot topics in the world of photography, with some of our lovely community members even getting a chance to snap pictures of the active volcanic fissure (here and here).
Well, there was one person who was so inspired by this unique phenomenon that she hiked there a total of 25 times to take what ended up being a handful of self-portraits with all of Iceland’s volcanic majesty included.
Featured today on Bored Panda is Anna Isabella Christensen, a photographer who aims to highlight the harmonious relationship between human being and nature. We got in touch with Anna for an exclusive interview about her Eruption Series, which you can check out, vote and comment on below!
Anna Isabella Christensen has been taking self-portraits in nature for 4 years now. In an age when it feels like humanity is moving away from nature, she aims to highlight the harmonious relationship between human beings and nature through her photography.
“The Eruption Series is a continuation of my self-portrait project, but it has a different meaning to me,” elaborated Anna about her unique project. “My previous work is all about harmony and this series symbolizes rebirth and letting go of the old. My whole experience with the eruption felt like the beginning of a new chapter in my life.”
She continued: “Taking this series started with trial and error for me. It took me a few times to understand what kind of photos I wanted from this eruption and what I wanted them to symbolize. Once that was clear, it was very easy for me to come up with ideas and compositions for my photo shoots. Most of the time, I did it spontaneously after arriving at the volcano, depending on the conditions and on how the eruption site looked that night.”
For the Eruption Series, Anna took her camera to Fagradalsfjall. Believe it or not, she hiked there a total of 25 times, each time having to go through her regular self-portrait routine.
“The hike took around 1 hour one way, but it depended on the route. Setting up was quite easy when I was shooting during blue hour or at sunrise as I could see what I was doing. Once I had a composition in mind, it would only take me around 15 minutes.”
However, if it was dark, that posed a challenge as it would sometimes take up to an hour to get it all set up, figure out the positions, locations and orientations of the camera and a lot of test shots. All the while, in situations where she was already dressed up, she would also have to deal with the piercing cold.
“The amount of shots I need to take during one photo shoot varies greatly. Sometimes I can take just 5 photos and if I can see that I definitely got the shot, then the photo shoot is over. Sometimes I need to take up to 50 shots in order to get it right,” explained Anna.
Of the 25 times she went to the eruption site, Anna says that around half of them were times when she came back “empty-handed.” The reasons behind them varied from extreme weather (snow storms and strong winds) to technical issues (getting the focus right and not overexposing the lava) to simply not being happy with the end results.
And this was besides all of the challenges she had to face while shooting: “Besides the cold, wind and technical issues, another challenge was spending my nights at the eruption site and trying to sleep during the day instead. This was something that I couldn’t avoid, as thousands of people hiked to the eruption site every day and I wouldn’t be able to take photos with the compositions that I wanted without other people in my frame during the day. The quietest time was from 2AM to 5AM and I made sure to be there during those hours every time when the weather forecast looked decent.”
For everyone wondering about safety, Anna did note that the eruption site was officially open to the public as it was deemed safe by Icelandic authorities. Besides, all of the photos taken were done so at a safe distance and she also made sure to measure gas levels and consider wind direction so as to not pose a risk to her health.
“In some of the photos, it looks like I’m standing close to the molten lava—it was never the case. In those photos, I was standing on top of a hill high above the molten lava,” explained Anna.
Anna also highlights that what you see here are originals and none of these photos were manipulated after capturing them. “For me, it’s not only about the end result, but the whole experience of taking these photos. They are frozen moments and each one has its own story,” said Anna.
There’s also a nearly 4-minute behind-the-scenes video that Anna put together to explain some of the nuances and intricacies of the Eruption Series, so be sure to check it out in this article or on YouTube.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg as Anna has done a slew of other self-portraits with absolutely amazing natural landscapes in the background. You can check out more on her website, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
But before you go, let us know what you thought of these photos in the comment section below!