While Iceland is famous for its photogenic landscapes (Volcanoes! Waterfalls!), animals (Fluffy horses! Cute puffins!) and even inhabitants (uhm, have you ever been on the streets of Reykjavik?), it all gets kinda vague when it comes to exhibition spaces for photography. You might ask yourself if there are any dedicated photo galleries at all—and if so, where are they? Well, photo-lovers, don’t despair, because we’ve got you covered: The following places are definitely worth a visit.
Dedicated to contemporary photography, Ramskram hosts about seven shows a year featuring both international and Icelandic artists. The founder and owner of the space is Bára Kristinsdóttir, a photographer herself and one of the founding members of The Icelandic Contemporary Photography Association. “We choose current photographers such Þórsteinn Cameron who is presently exhibiting his work and who won this year’s Magnús Ólafsson grant,” Bára explains. Ramskram is the place for photography purists, since it’s a non-commercial space where you won’t run the risk of rubbing shoulders with tourists looking for a cheesy souvenir. What the place lacks in size it definitely makes up for in quality, so don’t miss out on this tucked-away gem. NE
Grófarhús, Tryggvagata 15, top floor
Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur, or the Reykjavík Museum of Photography, is everything you’d expect from a proper photography museum. It’s located on the top floor of the Grófin Culture House and currently features two exhibitions, one featuring photos from Iceland and Greenland by the German photographer Olaf Otto Becker, and a smaller one on the Icelandic black metal scene by Hafsteinn Viðar Ársælsson. As a special treat, the museum offers an extra space which not only holds the Reykjavík City Library’s section on photography, but a bunch of negative sheets that are accessible to anyone who’s interested. For those who simply cannot withstand an opportunity to engage in some good old capitalism, there are also nice postcards and other photo-related stuff to buy. NE
Fótógrafí claims to have been the one of the first photo galleries in town. While its interior is tiny, there’s a surprising number of photos to be found inside. The pictures on display are mainly shot in Reykjavík or elsewhere in Iceland and all of them have a slightly different, edgy take on the island, instead of adding to the abundance of touristy subjects. Another highlight for any photophile are the numerous old cameras, which, along with old records playing in the background, give the room a certain vintage vibe. If you’re lucky, you might even encounter the shop’s owner and creator of most of the pictures, Ari Sigvaldason, and bore him with your questions. NE
Arctic Photo Gallery
This purely commercial gallery is the most likely to attract tourists: northern lights, puffins and vibrantly coloured landscapes decorate the walls in the back of a regular tourist shop. However, don’t write this place off immediately, as Örvar Þorgeirsson, the photographer behind Arctic Photo Gallery, has won several prizes for his photography, including the National Geographic Traveller Photograph of the year 2008 and European Wildlife Photographer of the year 2011. Örvar even offers photo tours around Iceland for those who want to combine their visit with lessons on photography. If you’re into stunning and colourful landscape and nature shots, this should be your go-to. NE