“It feels like discovering the origins of everything and the earth is talking to you!” That was Chilean-Spanish photographer Laia Benavides’s feeling about Iceland, which she visited back in August, travelling around in a car and shooting incessantly.
“Wherever you go in Iceland, you’re going to be impressed,” she says. “The land there is like a living human being, with scars due to the passing time, the eruptions, the thaw. Past and present are always in touch. It´s a magical place. The landscape changes from fire to ice, from sea to lava, geysers, icebergs, mountains with fossilised lava, columns of steam, wind, rain, sun, green.”
She spent 15 days driving round in her car, camping and cooking on gas stoves. “I would stare at the mountains that look unreal, like part of a painting. It was the same with the black sand, fluorescent blue lakes and steamy waters where you can take a warm bath while you feel your face freezing. It was an experience to set up the tent while it’s raining, then get inside and feel warm and to constantly change location and view. It´s incredible to wake up contemplating a volcano or a lake.”
Even though Iceland is a place that’s over-photographed (“everyone you see has a camera hanging on their shoulders!”), no two people come back with the exact same shots. “Everyone sees things in a very different way, for instance, I’m very attached to colours,” she explains. Wherever she goes (including Mexico, Panama and Indonesia), she finds herself “wandering around with no direction, hypnotised by the colours and shapes around me. When I travel alone I can´t stop taking photos. I don´t really care if the result is good or bad, I just enjoy it.”