48 hours in Iceland with Tom Kahler

Photographer Tom Kahler takes us behind his lens as he explores Iceland's southern coast in mid-winter, battling the elements equipped in Shackleton apparel.

My passion for photography started when I was 16 years old. I quickly developed a love for documenting my daily life and as I grew older and my adventures became more interesting, my photography grew with it. My style has evolved over the years but the aim has always been to document life in a clean, artistic way.

Photography means everything to me. To be honest, without it I would be completely lost – my job, my friends and my whole life revolve around taking photos. It makes me who I am – some would say I’m a little obsessed, but I believe these qualities lead to success. 

(Photograph of Tom Kahler by Nick Ramsey)

Iceland is a country that’s very close to my heart. I have been lucky enough to visit six times over the last two years and I hope there will be many more trips to come. I'm addicted to the wild landscapes and hidden gems the country has to offer.

On this occasion, we begin our journey heading to Snæfellsnes. We drive a loop from north to south, getting battered by high winds, heavy rain and occasional snow. We then head east to some of my favourite locations, starting with Thórsmörk and ending up at Jökulsárlón.

(Photograph by Tom Kahler)

On the Snæfellsnes peninsula we can't help but pull over to admire Kirkjufell, a perfectly shaped mountain that looks like a wizard’s hat. Then we move on to Svörtuloft Lighthouse, a beautiful orange building on the edge of the cliff with stunning views out to sea.

The nearby Búðakirkja Black Church offers a rather strange and surreal experience – it sits alone; so small in a vast landscape. Even in these well-travelled places, you can find quiet escapes – my good friend Mirek took us a natural hot spring known only by the locals.

(Photograph by Tom Kahler)

Moving south towards Thórsmörk – one of my favourite regions in Iceland – you enter a remote valley surrounded by glaciers and tall mountains. Out towards the volcano huts at the end of the valley, you can often see Arctic foxes. Be warned, Thórsmörk can be a very dangerous place – it has its own micro-climate and rivers can rise sharply making crossings impossible. It is recommended to visit with a guide who has a large 4x4.

It would be rude to drive past Skógafoss without a quick detour. It can be crazy busy but it’s still worth a visit. Then onto Vík, a remote seafront village with amazing black sand beaches and interesting rock formations. Rough weather here leads to large waves and a real sense of nature’s power.

(Photograph by Tom Kahler)

Another favourite location in south Iceland is Jökulsárlón. Again, it can be busy but get here early or move further up the lagoon and you can find a quiet spot down by the water’s edge and capture seals playing between the icebergs. Across the road is Diamond Beach, where you can witness the details of air-bubbles trapped in discarded ice chunks.

Icelandic weather is so unpredictable. It is one of the many things I love about the country, however it's important to be prepared – we had everything from 60mph winds and rain to hail, snow and bright sun. February in Iceland can be pretty brutal – we had temperatures down to minus 12ºC plus windchill. It’s important to wear the right layers – the Shackleton Endurance Parka and Frank Hurley Photographer's Jacket kept me super warm, dry and comfortable, which allowed me to focus on what I do best: take photos.

See more of Tom’s work at www.tomkahlerphoto.com