Frantically scrambling over slippery boulders, Rachel Kindangen ‘18 shields Katelyn Wang ‘18 from the spray of the cascading Skógafoss, a waterfall in the south of Iceland, as she set up her camera equipment. Despite the inevitable obstacles, they persevered until they were satisfied with their shot. In an interview with The Phillipian, Kindangen described this once-in-a-lifetime experience with shooting photographs in Iceland.
“We had to be creative. It was kind of stressful but such a cool experience. Our entire group was going through the experience together, but [through] different perspectives. It was a challenge to go to the same place, with the threat of water so near our cameras, to capture photos, but each of us got such beautifully diverse photos out of it. The rush of the waterfall hitting the water below was so powerful and the camera captured it perfectly,” said Kindangen.
This moment was one of many in their two-week National Geographic Student Expedition in Iceland during the summer. Along with thirty other students from around the world, Kindangen and Wang photographed some of the world’s most extraordinary glaciers and waterfalls under the guidance of their trip leaders.
However, both Kindangen and Wang chose to focus primarily on capturing Icelandic people and their cultures through portraiture and candid photography. In particular, Kindangen’s experiences allowed her not only to improve her photography skills, but also cultivate relationships with her subjects.
“I really liked [meeting the Icelandic people] because all of them were really passionate about art, and I was inspired by them all. There was this one guy I met; his name was Eli Weiss. He was making art every day because he had been depressed, and it helped his mental health,” said Kindangen. “He worked on one piece of art each day because it helped him relieve stress. I thought this was really inspiring because art almost became a daily routine for him, and I guess I just never looked at art in that way.”
Although Wang was initially afraid of approaching strangers for their photograph, she was motivated by her determination to share the stories of her subjects with others. In Höfn, a city in northern Iceland, Wang took portraits of two teenagers and became acquainted with them.
“I was editing their pictures in a whole different part of Iceland, in a different city for the final project. I received an Instagram [direct message]. [The direct message] was ‘Hey, I am one of kids you took a picture of. I was wondering if I could have the picture because I looked really good.’ Now we are [connected through] social media. His Facebook profile picture is something I took, so that is pretty cool,” said Wang.
Kindangen and Wang learned about the opportunity to travel to Iceland through Andover’s Summer Opportunities Fair. Since they both have a shared interest in photography, they decided to apply for the program together.
“I’ve always had the dream to travel the world with my best friend, and we got to do that which was really awesome. We got the opportunity to go to a beautiful location, but also to challenge ourselves together and immerse ourselves in a whole new landscape and culture and be able to explore it through our shared interest of photography,” said Wang.