Thanks to ever-developing wetsuit technology, many regions previously thought of as overly unhospitable have become popular destinations among surfer.
One such region is Iceland, which hosts an amazing array of set ups, backed by some of the most beautiful arctic landscapes in the world.
Cold water surfing has exploded, and with it have emerged a new kind of visual language in surf photography, where the classic green palm lined jungle backdrop has given way to something altogether more rugged and snowy. The narrative is no longer about perfection on tap; warm barrels and cold beers, but working for what you get, exploration, the embracing of fickleness and the quest for quality waves in extraordinary locations.
Popularised by Chris Burkard, there are now a whole host of talented photographers specialising in cold water surf zones, and Iceland native Elli Thor has been one of our favourites for a while. Elli grew up in the great outdoors, camping, hiking and cross-country skiing with his parents, we asked him to tell us a little more about how he got into shooting surfing and show us some of his favourite images from around his home.
“My name is Elli Thor Magnusson and I live just outside of Reykjavik Iceland. I’ve been a professional photographer for the last four years. I had always dabbled in photography as a kid and teenager, but I didn’t get heavily into it until my early 20s. I was kayaking in Nepal with friends and bought my first proper camera there. I was never one for writing a journal and a camera seemed like a good substitute, I haven’t stopped using it since. It was the perfect vehicle to document my friends, travels and activities.
After having spent 10 years travelling elsewhere in search of waves, I slowly realised how special it is to be a surfer in Iceland. Day to day surfing feels like a different sport over here. It still retains its pioneering spirit and there is room for adventures and exploration. At times it’s hard, wild, cold, miserable and requires a lot of patience but I wouldn’t change it for any other place in the world.”