The camera and the horse have been collaborators for 160 years and this is perhaps the most powerful image that I have ever taken of the animal. It has the essence of a dream or a fairytale, not really daily reality. Icelandic horses may look wild, but because they can be managed by their owners, many ideas are possible.
My cognitive processing in the country is characterised by the desire to be creatively bold. It often doesn't not come off, but as Wayne Gretzky said “you miss 100% of the shots you don't take”. It is better to try and not succeed, than never try at all. And I have got used to not succeeding in Iceland.
I have rarely known a wind as strong as the one that greeted us in Iceland in March 2018 and whilst it made driving difficult, the upside was that the sea was transformed into a ferocious body of white horses. Stormy seas have long attracted artists and whether I am at home in Devon, or working in California, a powerful sea casts a magnetic visual spell on me. I am not alone in this obsession, but images of storms often fail to convey the enormity and rawness of the conditions. Working the situation into a transcending single shot narrative is a tough ask.
I just needed to work towards a plan as quickly as possible, before the winds subsided. My instincts were immediately to find a white horse to complement the conditions and my fixers were already on this thought process by the time I arrived in Iceland.
There are many components to this image that coalesce and the backdrop of these unruly and dramatic rock pinnacles was an immediate choice. They are a well-known formation by the coastal village of Vik, which is about three hours’ drive east from the capital. The village is well known to film makers because of its black beaches and other worldly rock formations. I have stayed nights in Vik in the past and yearned for conditions like these in which to shoot.. This really is Game of Thrones territory.
I needed the distance between the horse and the rocks to be as short as possible and this necessitated shooting at low tide - a stroke of luck as this would be early the next morning and the wind was forecast to die down in the afternoon. Indeed, this image was taken only 18 hours after we touched down in Keflavik, which says a great deal about the team around me.
Iceland is a truly remarkable country and the horses that live there have a uniquely wild beauty. I think this image just about does justice to both.