Stop Saying 'Iceland Is Over-Photographed'

The most ridiculous claim I have ever heard about not going to Iceland was “it is over-photographed and it is not possible to get an original photo”. Challenge accepted. I got four in one day.

In my latest video, I set out to disprove the idea that Iceland is over-photographed and it is not possible to get an original photo.

Over the past half-decade Iceland has become one of the most popular countries for landscape photography on planet Earth. With an influx of tourists and photographers, the amount of photos from Iceland has skyrocketed and most people obviously go to many of the same locations. Inspired by others, we go to Iceland for a certain reason and with certain expectations and we try to fulfill those expectations. It is not unreasonable to expect newcomers to visit the classics. Kirkjufell, Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, The Golden Circle, The Diamond Beach, The Glacier Lagoon, Stokksnes, and the black beach at Vik are probably all on that list. If you go at winter, an ice cave and the auroras are probably on your list too. Therefore,you are only likely to see photos from these locations.

However, seeing many photos from these locations and then concluding there are no original photos left is a bit of a stretch. After all, we are talking about an entire country. Anyone who has actually been to Iceland knows that it is possible to get original photos from original locations.

In my video, I just drove along a stretch of the famous ring road and let my curiosity lead the way. Check out what I got in the video.

Have you been to Iceland and have you got something original?

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18 Comments

Seppo Hakkinen's picture

I just thought your comment was not really related to Mads' article. Peace!

Seppo Hakkinen's picture

I quite agree with your point re teaser/sample images. Perhaps Mads is reading this :)

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

So, the problem is this post is a "repost" and it's made in a certain format, without photos. I don't always have time to make "originals", which are articles of a certain length and with photos. When I'm in the field and on a bad connection (like I've just been for the past two weeks) making originals takes hours and it can be a pain-in-the... to upload the article + photos. I strive to make interesting and meaningful articles and strive to make "originals" about something I'm passionate about, but sometimes the time is just not there for it.

That is where the "reposts" come in. If I see a video or make one myself of something I consider can be valuable for others I repost it.

It is a situation where I have to consider the cost/benefit. Even though I make a longer article about a subject I'm interested in, is it really worth my time making it if only 1500 people get to read it? That is sadly just not the case. I wish I had all the time in the world and an unlimited amount of resources to do what I want, but I don't and I'm in the same boat as everyone else in the "creative sphere". Working way too much and earning way too little.

I am reading the comments and I am taking CC in to consideration. Just as all the other writers here :)

Mikkel Beiter's picture

Totally agree Mads! Iceland has so much more to offer!

Iceland is an amazing place from what I can tell (never been) and surely they are plenty originals photos to be had . However , I think the perception is out there that Iceland is overshot because there are many photos of social sites such as IG that are very similar .

Thanks for the great video Mads! Totally agree with the fact that Iceland is not "overdone". Your photo of the waves is breathtaking. These types of photographs involve and engage the viewer at a level that I find is difficult in photos that visually hand everything over to the viewer. The absence of a well known subject, or at least an abstraction of it, involves the viewer to make their own interpretation of the image. This creates an engaging conversation between the photograph and the viewer.

Dennis Williams's picture

So I click on 'more' and lo and behold...no there are no photographs- not four, not any. Just a link to a video.

Iceland is not “over photographed”. What does that even mean? But it is definitely overcrowded and the government has not built up the roads to accommodate the hordes of tourists. Yes, go to Iceland, take wonderful memorable photos there, but go in the off-off-season, if there is such a thing.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Being there several times a year for several weeks I'd argue it's hard to call it over-crowded. The most iconic sites do get their fair share of tourists, but the roads are fine.

One lane bridges are not fine, especially at night and especially when the oncoming driver has had a little too much to drink. With all the money tourism brings in one would expect the government to upgrade the bridges.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

They are upgrading them gradually. However, I agree it could be done faster. Have you experienced drunk driving in Iceland?

Iceland is not over-photographed, more like over-represented in social media, marketing campaigns, product samples etc. It's even featured in the sample gallery of the iOS simulator during app development!

Also, I got a bit biased because I tend to follow photographers that have the same photographic styles and tastes, so of course I feel like I am seeing way too much Iceland on my feeds ;)

It's not even over-crowded, some places are way worse than all the Icelandic ones combined! And there is always a way to avoid the crowd...

It's like the hard relationship of German tourists and the isle of Mallora: don't go, it's "overtouristed".

Gion-Andri Derungs's picture

Probably not over photographed, but it's overrun by tourists. That's the reason why I don't go there, till this hype is gone....

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Only the most iconic locations such as Geysir, Gullfoss and Skogafoss can be argued as "over-run", but there are really not that many people around dinner or breakfast time (when you have the golden light) anyway.

Gion-Andri Derungs's picture

I will wait anyway. It not has top priority, because of the many tourists. The island will survive, the glaciers maybe not. But hey, new possibilities to shoot then.

Jordan McChesney's picture

Iceland is near the top of my list of places to shoot regardless of how many people shoot it. I’d love to go if I ever get the time, but it’s a little far from Japan, so I think I’ll stick to Asia for now, haha. Seeing your work from both Iceland and the Faroe Islands always inspires me.

Ian Hayward's picture

Here's a couple of shots I took in the same area that Mads was in. I can't be absolutely certain they're original but I haven't seen them elsewhere.