We hiked up to the base of this massive crater plug - the remnants of a volcano eroded away by catastrophic glacial flooding. I was with two photographer friends on a road trip around Iceland, and we were planning to shoot enough to make a printed zine of our adventure. Of all the places I’ve visited in my life, Hljodaklettar is by far the most bizarre and hellish landscape of raw geologic processes, brought into form by ice and fire.
My friend Justin is one of my favorite people to photograph because he’s naturally photogenic, even in his impromptu poses. Throughout the trip I used him as a measuring stick in the distance to show the scale of the landscapes. For this one, I just thought a portrait would look cool. I was just taking this photo for us, not for the photo book we were shooting the whole trip for, and it ended up being one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken.
I can’t help but wonder if he’s standing on a pile of skulls, joining the ones embedded in the rock behind him. He blends into the basalt columns somehow, slightly personifying the already personified “Whispering Cliffs,” named for the eerie way sound echoes off of the canyon walls here. To me, the portrait just unintentionally invokes the evil, occult vibes I got from the landscape.