Meet Helga Kvam, a one–woman, one–camera tourist board.
And we’re not the only ones noticing. From her tiny village up north, Helga is starting to do brisk business, selling her photos for use in ads, magazines, and books, to far away places like New York and Australia. It’s hard to believe that she only took up photography about a year and a half ago.
Personally, we think Helga makes Iceland look almost unnaturally good. And we told her so, when we called her up yesterday. (Yay! Original reporting! We feel almost professional!)
We: Helga, we love your work. What’s your secret?
Helga Kvam: Well, I stay away from the old-fashoned post card feel. I’ll shoot in the middle of the night, or maybe in weird lighting conditions, and I try to avoid the most obvious perspective. Also, you could say I try to put a little bit of the moment into the picture.
Do you have any favourite places to shoot?
Not really. It changes depending on the season. Reykjanes [in the southwest of Iceland] is fun to shoot because it’s difficult; the simplicity of the landscape makes it very hard to compose a photo.
You live in the north — any touristy recommendations?
First of all, don’t be afraid to talk to the locals and get some advice. Second, stay of the beaten track. Don’t just take a bus and sleep in hotels — stay in a tent! And be prepared for all kinds of weather. In the area around Akureyri I would recommend Skíðadalur — it’s close to Akureyri, not crowded, and once you’re there it’s just a short walk up to the Highlands. Also, you should definitely go to Hrísey and Grímsey.
Do you know how many people have looked at your photos online?
About 350,000 according to the counter. Sometimes, people who have seen my photos on Flickr contact me when they’re in the area. I think I’m also responsible for at least a few people flying to Iceland. I think Iceland Express should give me a commission! [Laughs.]
Helga, stop laughing. That’s not funny.