Another year has (almost) passed. That means it’s the ideal time to publish a list of my most noteworthy photographic moments of the year. It’s the perfect way for me to reflect on the special moments and achievements in my photography career and look back with pride.
While 2021 was heavily dominated by my work surrounding the Geldingadalir eruption, 2022 turned out to be a much more diverse year. However, that doesn’t mean it was any less interesting or momentous. If anything, it might have turned out to be an even better year. In this blog I’ve listed 5 of the most important moments to me. I have listed them in no particular order.
1. A First: Visiting Greenland (in Winter)
For the longest time visiting Greenland, and the Ilulissat Icefjord in particular, had been on my photography bucket list. Three times I had tried to get there in the past three years. Each time something disrupted those plans. So when I saw a small window of opportunity to visit Ilulissat last March, I jumped on it. I spent 5 days hiking and sailing around in temperatures between -21 and -28 degrees Celsius. I was insanely cold at times and yet I felt warm and fulfilled on the inside. I was finally seeing that which you can only believe is real when witnessing it yourself. A long time dream came true: seeing those building-sized enormous icebergs floating as far as the eye can see.
I was so impressed by what I had experienced that I didn’t only write a blog. I felt my very first YouTube video had to be about this photography trip to frozen Greenland.
2. The Meradalir Eruption
It won’t surprise anyone that the second eruption at Fagradalsfjall volcano is also on this list. No one saw it coming when early August the situation evolved in less than a week from the first quake to a brand new eruption in the Meradalir valley.
As soon as the eruption began, I grabbed my gear and set out to the eruption area. By the time I arrived on-site the authorities had already given permission for spectators to approach the new fissure. It was an incredible feeling to see this again. I had somehow decided for myself that the Geldingadalir eruption was a once-in-a-lifetime event. That’s why I had never dared to hope to witness an eruption this close again. The eruption lasted for about 3 weeks and in that time I managed to visit 6 times, taking many photographs and videos. One of the videos I made has even been seen by 6 million people now, which feels like a great honour to me.
3. My Photography Exhibition ‘Fire and Ice’
Of course I can’t make a list such as this one without mentioning my photography exhibition ‘Fire and Ice’. It had been a long time coming. Not only was my last exhibition 7 years ago but, due to COVID-19, I had to postpone this project three times. It was such a relief when I could finally display my work in this beautiful space in my home town in Belgium. The response I got was overwhelming. Numerous people visited the exhibition, bought one of the photographs or sent me encouraging messages. I am very grateful for the great support my work has gotten.
I’ve said it many times before and I probably will again: people wanting to hang my photography on a wall in their home is one of the biggest compliments I can get as a photographer. When I look at my work, I think back to all these stories and moments behind each and every photograph. Every photo has a memory attached to it which means that each photo has an enormous emotional value to me. To see so many of you look differently at these photos, look at them as a work of art, has been incredibly intriguing and heartwarming.
4. Photographing Arctic Foxes in Hornstrandir
In the beginning of summer I spent a few days in Hornstrandir, a remote area in the Westfjords of Iceland. My goal was straightforward but not simple. I wanted to photograph arctic fox cubs. The cubs start to leave the safety of their dens around that time. This was another trip that had been on my bucket list for a long time. The conditions turned out to be excellent for photography, hiking and wildlife. I also recorded my first on-location vlog-style YouTube video during this adventure.
Travelling around Hornstrandir isn’t for everyone. The hikes are long and often the trail gets very steep. While it’s definitely challenging, it’s also very rewarding. There’s just something special about roaming such an unspoilt part of nature. On one of the days I spent there, I didn’t even encounter another human being aside from at the campsite where I was staying. It puts things in perspective and feels very fulfilling to experience raw nature in such a way.
5. A Landscape In The Making – Lecturing About My Work
Another first for me this year was lecturing about my photography. While I have done shorter presentations before, such as on the Photo Days last year, I was now given the opportunity to speak at length about my experiences at the two most recent volcanic eruptions. The focus of my lectures was the thought process behind New Earth, my book. I wanted to speak about how that came to be and how privileged I felt being allowed to document such an incredible event.
I shared lots of video footage and told several stories of my time photographing these eruptions up close. It was the first time I spoke in front of a large audience and really enjoyed it. All the kind and positive feedback I received afterwards really drives me forward. I will definitely be doing these again in the future.
Also Worth Mentioning…
Because it was such a big year for me, I wanted to mention a few other things outside of this list.
I’m happy to say I won a few prizes this year as well. Most notably I got first place in the Abstract category at the World Landscape Photographer awards with my Lava Dragon photograph. I took this unique shot during the 2021 eruption at Geldingadalir.
Additionally, I also got second place in the Abstract category of the reFocus awards with the same photograph and an honourable mention for one of my puffin shots.
Starting My YouTube Channel
This year I started using YouTube more frequently and differently. Before I would publish mostly random videos from last year’s eruption but now I started focusing on sharing my adventures. I talked about my adventures to Greenland and Hornstrandir but also made other videos such as how to fly a drone above an eruption and my top 5 moments at the Geldingadalir eruption.
If you want to support my work on YouTube, the best thing you can do is subscribe and watch my videos!
I ran my first photography workshops together with Andy Mumford and Mads Peter Iversen. Together with the participants we explored the lesser frequented areas in the Icelandic Highlands. I had a blast during all the workshops I ran this year and I very much look forward to what’s coming in 2023 and 2024.
I Released Not One But Two E-Books
Last but not least, I release not one but two e-books this year. My first release was an e-book about different of my favourite photography locations around Iceland. The second, freshly released, e-book is all about drone photography and how I create my aerial photographs. This second e-book has been a long time coming and I finally found a good way to transfer my knowledge on this topic.
Bring On 2023!
Well, that was 2022! It has been an incredible ride and I’m very much looking forward to the exciting photography year 2023 will become. All that is left for me now is to thank you all for following along on this ride. I hope you will all enjoy the holidays and kickstart 2023 in the best possible way. And who knows, maybe our paths will cross in 2023!
Happy holidays and a happy new year!
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A really interesting newsletter, Jeroen, particularly your comments about visiting Greenland and coping with extremely cold conditions.