ICELAND

People, places, and mesmerising spaces.

By Chad Gerber

People, places, and mesmerising spaces.

This was it. The country, the adventure, that had been hovering over all my thoughts and dreams since I started this year-long journey. Having rested well enough in the United States, I was prepared to push my body and mind to the limits, to see every sunrise and sunset in the most anticipated eight days of my life. I just needed one more thing — a team. So I assembled the people I counted on most throughout the year. In this absolute A-Team was Manny Teh, England; Hugo Cheng, Hong Kong; Alvaro Valiente, Spain; and Marinha Diaz, Spain. All from different parts of the planet, they ascended to this one small but profound island nation for what I can only describe as one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

Iceland.

We spent a solid six weeks prior figuring out what we wanted to see and how we were going to see it. All of our plans counted on us being on the road for up to 16 hours a day, fitting in shoots between lengths of dreamlike travel, and sleeping only on the edge of delirium. The following shots were taken on handheld cameras; this is what we saw every single day.

But the handheld can only get you so far. Sometimes you need to see what a bird sees. Sometimes the true beauty of nature is kept secret from those on the ground.

Departing for Iceland, we knew we had little chance of beholding the Northern Lights in September, but that didn't crush our optimism. We checked weather apps day and night to make sure we had the best chance possible. The first six nights, nothing. And then, BAM, two solid nights of magic. We soaked it into our eyes and hearts, knowing in those lulling hours that we were seeing something some only dream of.

None of this would have been impossible without our crack team of professional photographers and filmmakers. I realised this the moment we set off on the first day. It's not just the planning or the taking turns sleeping and driving, but the dynamic as a whole. We were humans exploring an undiscovered world of unimaginable power and grace, and the overwhelming prospect of it all was kept in check by the fact that we stood as one, together. I'll never forget the banter, the pranks, the smiles. I owe the success of the trip to the people I shared it with.

It might sound cliché, but I learnt something from every single country I visited this year. In some countries, like Indonesia, Switzerland, and Austria, I spent every waking moment out and about, trying to capture as much as possible, while in those like Cyprus, Portugal, and Hungary, I learnt to take the time to relax and recover. Some countries, like Singapore, Brunei, and Germany, were quick visits, but no less bewildering, and others, like Andorra, Israel, and Egypt, put travelling into perspective and reset all of my expectations; in Morocco, Italy, and Hong Kong, my expectations were straight blown out the back of my head. Wow, I really tried to give a shoutout to every country I've visited on this trip, but, man, there were a lot! At the end of the day, there were good times, and there were bad times. But I wouldn't change any of it. My advice is to do it while you're young. There is no way I could get to all of these places when I'm a fragile old man. We have the ability to reach every corner of Earth in this day and age. Make the most of it.

Iceland was the only way to end my adventure, and I don't think I even needed to say a single word to communicate the awe-inspiring beauty of it.

 

It's time I return to Perth, Western Australia, where I might rest a while before heading out again. Five continents down. Two more to go. Stay tuned for more exciting adventures early in 2020.

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Written by Chad Gerber, Edited by Nick Petrou