Iceland's Harsh Weather Creates an Epic Fashion Shoot for a Wedding Photographer
When you are scheduled to shoot a fashion shoot along the coast of a fjord in Iceland, but the weather is not ideal, what do you do? You use your wedding photographer skills and shoot anyways.
On my last visit to Iceland in May of this year, I had scheduled some shoots that are a bit outside of my usual wedding, however, because of my expertise in shooting weddings I was able to pull off this specific shoot. When life gives you lemons, or a storm, you make stormy lemonade. Or, an epic fashion shoot.
I was in Iceland for about the entire month, however, I only had a few days to shoot some fashion and some fine art. After that week, I was picking up a performance dance troupe from Brooklyn at the Keflavík airport and driving us to the complete other side of Iceland where we would stay for the remainder of the month. I really wanted to get these shoots in because they fuel my creative juices and make me a better photographer, always. I had other shoots scheduled for that week as well, shooting for some travel agencies on their bus tours, so my time was really limited on the availability that I had for this specific shoot. I brought this amazing red dress with me from Brooklyn, I had my wonderful model (and friend) Rakel Ósk ready to put it on and play in front of my cameras. All three of them.
Just like when a couple is planning their wedding, they have a specific image already in their head of what they want it to look like. I had it in my head that I wanted to do this shoot in the West Fjord, I wanted the sea and mountains budding from the background. I wanted the clear, bright sky. I wanted the colors of Iceland to compliment this gorgeous, bright red dress. But, like what happens very often with a wedding, when the day comes, nothing is perfect. When Mother Nature gets involved, there is no stopping her. There had been a terrible storm hitting the island for multiple days, which is really rare weather for Iceland. Usually, the weather will be rainy, and sunny, and windy and wild, but in spurts and not days on end. This time, it was raining and foggy and incredibly windy for over two days at that point. You couldn't see the sky, you couldn't see the gorgeous landscape surrounding you from the fog, the wind would push you a few feet forward, and the rain was COLD and heavy. I kept saying to myself, 'should I cancel this shoot?'
I talked to Rakel and wanted to see how she was feeling about it, since she would be the one in the cold, hard rain with only a thin dress on. Like the pro she is, she was like 'LET'S JUST DO IT!' And so, we did. We drove out to the fjords from Reykjavík and searched for an entrance down into the water. We almost got stuck on a muddy, dirt driveway. We smashed the bottom of my rental car on a giant rock (sorry!) and had about a million laughs trying to find our location. It was hard to see where we were going but eventually we found our spot. This is where my skills and experience of being a wedding photographer comes into play. As a wedding photographer, I have to be ready for everything and anything that happens. Parts of a wedding are planned, but unlike a studio shoot or a controlled location shoot, once it gets going, it becomes it's own unique being. I don't know what's going to happen next, I just have to be ready. Not only that, I have to make it look good and dreamy and create great images for the client. No matter what. Poor weather? Too bad. The sun isn't what you want it to look like? So what. The wind is 35mph? Make it look good.
You would never guess it by looking at these images just how intense the weather was. We sat in my car and pumped each other up screaming and going 'LET'S DO THIS! WE GOT THIS! IT'S SO COLD OUTSIDE, AHHHH!!!'. We would look at each other then say 'Ok, go!' and jump out of my car, scream and laugh, and RUN to the area to shoot in . We would get into position, and I would say 'OK NOW!'. She would put on her professional model attitude and would be look after look after look of amazingness. I would click away when I saw the right moments, give her some direction I had in mind, then we would scream and giggle and run back into my car to dry off my lens and warm up. Then we would do it again at another spot in our location. And then again.
If I wasn't a wedding photographer, I don't think I would have been able to see when was the right time to hit the shutter and be able to shoot so fast. I wouldn't have been able to direct some posing as quickly and such second nature. Just like an elopement or an engagement session, I need to 'see it' then shoot it, fast. I don't have the luxury of time on my hands. This shoot turned out to be one of my favorites of all time. I love that the sky was crazy and you couldn't see the mountains on the other side of the fjord. I love that her hair and dress was being blown in all sorts of directions. I love that the rain drops on my lens made my composition more interesting. All in all, we shot in four spots and I hit the shutter for less than five minutes total. Being a wedding photographer has it's perks outside of shooting weddings and gives me a skill set that is quite unique within the photography world. So no matter what life gives you, you shoot anyways.
Featured on Dark Beauty Magazine on August 9th, 2017.