ICELAND: A Personal View, Volume II


ICELAND: A Personal View, Volume II


Photographs and Preface by
Michael A. Smith

Foreword by Ómar Þ. Ragnarsson

Essay by Jens Erdman Rasmussen

Hardbound Edition of 500 signed and numbered copies

Publication: 2015
79 reproductions, 108 pages
9″ x 17″
ISBN: 978-1-888899-79-4

In 2004, 2006, and 2010 photographsers Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee loaded their camera gear and lm—several hundred pounds of it—into their old Land Rover and shipped it to Iceland, where they travelled and photographed throughout the country for months at a time. Although Smith and Chamlee photographed in many popular places, such as Jökulsárlón, they also made many photographs far from the beaten trail. Their photographs in these books represent each photographer’s personal view of the extraordinary island country of Iceland.

In this two-volume set of books, Chamlee’s 8×10-inch photographs (along with one 4×5) are reproduced in Volume I, and Smith’s 8×20- inch photographs and 8x10s in color are reproduced in the long-format Volume II. A foreword by the noted Icelander Ómar Þ. Ragnarsson is included in both volumes as is the essay, This is Not a Landscape, by Jens Erdman Rasmussen, former Curator of Photography at the National Museum of Photography in Copenhagen. Smith and Chamlee have each written prefaces for their respective volumes. Also included in Volume I is a DVD with Chamlee’s lm samples.

Ómar Þ. Ragnarsson writes in his Foreword, “Smith’s and Chamlee’s photographs are not the usual pictures of Iceland you might see in magazines or on calendars. Their photographs seem timeless . . . there is always something new to discover each time you look at them. There is a special energy in Iceland, and this is an energy that Chamlee’s and Smith’s art both draws on and conveys. The distant views and the close-up details are of Iceland for sure, but they are also about much more; the rhythms of life and nature everywhere.”

And Jens Erdman Rasmussen writes in his essay, “In an uncompromising way, Paula Chamlee and Michael A. Smith tell us about how we perceive the world rather than show us the world itself. Exactly that fact makes their photographs very different from the pictures that usually surround us. What you see in these potographs is not a landscape. It is a landscape seen and heard by Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee. Now it’s up to you to look at them and listen to them. Should you choose to see them only as landscapes, only as images of the world, I can hardly blame you; who would not dream of standing where the two photographers have stood, and of seeing what they have seen? But try anyway to take their eyes with you into your own world and see as they have seen.”

Michael A. Smith, born in Philadelphia in 1942, has been working in photography since 1966. Less than a year later, in 1967, he began photographing exclusively with an 8×10-inch view camera, committing himself to the contact print. Later he added both an 8×20 and an 18×22-inch view camera.

During his second year as a photographer, he began teaching his own seminars and workshops, but after seven and a half years, he stopped teaching to dedicate himself solely to the making of his photographs.

His photographic journeys during the past 46 years have taken him to every state in the continental United States, western Canada, Mexico, and Europe. The results of these remarkable odysseys are included in the permanent collections of over 125 museums in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Art Institute of Chicago, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

His commitment to the medium has resulted in over 200 exhibitions. In addition, he has twice received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and he has been the recipient of major commissions to photograph five American cities. In 1981, Smith’s first book, the two-volume monograph, Landscapes 1975–1979, was awarded Le Grand Prix du Livre at the Rencontres Internationale de la Photographie in Arles, France. At that time, the Swiss publication Print Letter commented, “For the first time in the 11 years of the Rencontres, a deserving book has won the book prize.”

Jens Erdman Rasmussen, formerly Curator of Photography at the National Museum of Photography in Copenhagen, is now a private curator. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Ómar Þ. Ragnarsson is a pilot, an entertainer, and Iceland’s foremost defender of the natural environment. When not traveling throughout Iceland he lives in Reykjavík.