Icelanders in London is the new project from photographer Nick Miners.
Nick Miners is a photographer from London. He has a successful career as a freelancer and is regularly hired by a range of individuals and organisations for his creative approach to photography. Please see his extraordinary promotional images of a contortionist for The Last Exorcism Part 2 film as a prime example. But that’s not all. Nick has a passion for Iceland and Icelanders. When his twin interests combine, something special really happens.
Following on from his successful Svart/Hvít (black and white) series in 2009, Nick has just announced his latest project: Icelanders in London. I was intrigued to find out more. How would Nick portray a true sense of Iceland and Icelanders without being in Iceland itself? Surely without Iceland as its own stunning background, there is a danger that this would just be ‘arty’ portrait shots in London’s bleak streets. It seems I was wrong.
What is Icelanders in London all about?
“It began as part of a People and Places exhibition that a photographer friend of mine, Chris Gravett, was organising with about nine photographers in total. I wanted to meet and photograph Icelanders (the people) living in London (a place) along with something they keep that reminds them of Iceland (another place). It’s about telling the stories about the individuals through their portrait and their object, and hopefully explaining to people just what it is about Iceland and Icelanders that fascinates me.”
“Mainly because that’s where I live, and where most expats tend to move to when they come to the UK.”
What have you done so far?
“I advertised on the Facebook page of the Icelandic Society in London (Félag Íslendinga í London) asking for people who would be interested, and quickly got about 20 replies. I sent them all details of what I had planned for the project, and set up a private Facebook group where I could keep everyone updated with what I wanted to do and when.
To date I have photographed six of the Icelanders who have expressed an interest in the project, and met a few more. I like to get to know them as people before shooting them, as taking a portrait requires a level of rapport with the subject which can be lost if they have a camera shoved in their face the moment they meet me. I have built a website specifically to showcase the images I’ve taken, and the first six are now up.”
I really like that each photo shoot incorporates an important possession from each of the Icelanders – where did that idea come from?
“I wanted something that would make the picture about more than just a person. In my experience anyone who has lived in or visited Iceland builds a very strong connection with the country, more so than I’ve seen in any other nation. Telling a story is one thing, but illustrating it with a physical object makes it come to life more.”
One of the images features Nanna Gunnarsdóttir. It’s a beautiful shot; Nick has caught Nanna in a half-smile, with her hair dashing across her face. She is wearing a lopapeysa. The image is strengthened by the words beneath. ‘Nanna has owned her lopapeysa for as long as she can remember; it was knitted for her by her aunt when she was very young. At the time it was quite unusual to have a hood and buttons on an Icelandic sweater, but it has since become quite fashionable.
Although it’s rather small, it still just about fits. Nanna’s aunt made her another lopapeysa a few years ago that is bigger, but the one in the picture is still her favourite even though she describes it as ‘like a short boob tube with sleeves and a hood’ and is still teased by her friends for wearing it.’
Nanna and her ‘peysa was my particular favourite. Is it a true story?
“Yes, absolutely. I can vouch for how much of a tight fit her lopapeysa was at the shoot! ”
I enjoy Nick’s images. His photography is stunning. The text is clever and revealing. Somehow, Nick has managed to capture a sense of being an Icelander in London that far transcends the mere combination of photography and text. It’s his passion for Iceland and Icelanders that really shines through.
Nick hopes to expand Icelanders In London website, and to at some point exhibit his images. For more information and to view Nick’s images, please see icelandersinlondon.com and nickminers.com/svart_hvit
Original article published in Iceland Review online.