Behind the lens with Ragnar Axelsson

Leica ambassador and renowned Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson, aka Rax, has an extraordinary eye for capturing the most unique cultures and environments. His work within the Arctic and remote islands depicts the realities of survival in the most improbable places. Capturing these very personal insights into people’s lives can only be achieved with a great deal of patience and cultural empathy – it can take weeks, sometimes months and many visits, but people feel comfortable sharing their most intimate stories with Rax.

Many of these can be found within his book, Faces of the North, a stunning collection from 30 years of documenting the lives of hunters, fishermen and farmers in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

More recently, Rax has been documenting the beauty of Iceland’s glaciers and the effect climate change is having on these endangered areas.

“The photographs, taken in the past ten years, are at once elemental and ethereal, dynamic and timeless, unfamiliar and intimate. A few minuscule human figures give an initial reference to the enormity of the glaciers, but the images soon lose all sense of scale, requiring a constant reassessment of our relationship to what we are seeing, and what in reality we are bearing witness to.

"Surface details of the ever-moving ice, brought into sharp relief by volcanic ash, show powerful natural forces at play, but unseen and unstoppable forces are also at work. Nothing can be done to prevent Iceland’s glaciers from melting away. Within the next two centuries, they will be gone forever.”

Rax’s incredible black and white images from this project, the most recent of which have been taken on the new Leica SL2, can be found at

Ragnar Axelsson wears the Frank Hurley Photographer's Jacket, a world-first collaboration between Shackleton and Leica.