New York-based Australian photographer Brooke Holm recently turned her lens to Iceland’s river deltas, capturing an uninhabited wilderness of volcanic ash, sediment and colourful minerals collected and moved by glacier water. Smith Journal caught up with Brooke ahead of her Melbourne exhibition opening.
How did you go about photographing Iceland from the sky?
I chartered a helicopter on a late afternoon. I was harnessed into it, so I could open the door and lean out as far as I wanted. I told the pilot to go higher, lower, faster or slower as we followed in the tracks of the river deltas, along the glaciers and deep into the mountains. Because it’s such an expensive undertaking, I really only had one chance to get what I needed. I only had a tiny hour–and–a–half window and could have stayed up there for days. Time absolutely flew.
When I had the camera in front of me and was 100% focused on the mission at hand, it was easy to forget that I was leaning out into the void, held to the helicopter by a small rope. I’m not afraid of heights but it’s kind of crazy now, thinking about what I was actually doing.
Why Iceland, and why aerial photography?
I knew that the landscape was particularly special because of the intense volcanoes, rivers, geothermal areas, mountains and glaciers. It is so far the most varied-looking landscape in one country that I’ve ever seen, and I was captivated. I felt a really strong emotional connection to the land.
Iceland was magnificent at any angle, but shooting from above was something I’d planned in advance and did as soon as I arrived there. The river deltas in particular – you can’t see the intricacies of the colours and shapes straight in front of you like you can from above. It gives you a better overall picture of nature in full force.
What is it about landscape photography that compels you, exactly?
Nature isn’t our beast to tame. We are nature. It’s a part of us. Humans and nature are not mutually excusive. Photographing the landscape allows me to share what I have seen and raise awareness of the issues we face and what is at stake. It’s harder for people to care about something they’ve never seen. My imagery hopefully can grab attention and hold it long enough to get someone to think more deeply about our world.