Interview: the photographer captures the missing beauty of Greenland icebergsadmin September 8, 2019 0 COMMENTS
On a recent trip to Greenland, landscape photographer Albert Dros had the opportunity to navigate the waters around Disko Bay. Located on the west coast of the country, the area is full of wildlife such as walruses, seals, and whales. They have fun in the icy waters dotted with icebergs. While Dros was in the area, he had the opportunity to experience the changing dynamics of the Greenland environment and take some incredible images.
While directing photographic tours, Dros immersed himself in the landscape and made full use of the creative opportunities offered by icebergs. When photographed in different types of light, they change dramatically and change from cold to warm depending on how the light is reflected. Some of his best works take place during sunset when the rich shades of orange, yellow and pink bounce off the calm waters and cover these giant blocks of ice.
In Dros’ reflections on his trip, he speaks clearly of the positive and negative aspects of tourism in the area. On the one hand, there is an important discovery and appreciation of the natural beauty of Greenland. On the other hand, there is the inevitable transformation that occurs when a small village is invaded by large cruise ships. Juggling both perspectives, while remaining aware of how global warming is taking effect, Dros is careful to consider all its angles.
We had the opportunity to talk with the photographer about his impressions of Greenland, what it is like to meet an iceberg for the first time and how a responsible trip can help instead of hurting. Read on for the exclusive My Modern Met interview.
Greenland has always been on top of my places to visit. I’ve been to the country before, and I’ve been to the Arctic many times too. I am attracted to the serenity of the place, the beauty of light and ice. The colors of the midnight sun in the sky, which is reflected in the calm waters of Disko Bay and icebergs, is magical. I love the Arctic and the “cold” as much as I don’t like sunny vacations and heat. I am not a person to go to tan on the beach and, in general, I do not like the warm weather. Spending time in the cold is natural. Although it was not cold at all when I visited Greenland a few weeks ago! Which was surprising.
When you think of Greenland, you think of ice. And that’s what you get: lots of ice! It exceeded all my expectations. It is really like walking and sailing in a world of dreams. Everything is so beautiful and peaceful around Ilulissat. No wonder there are so many people there with the cruise ships!
I would say that the most important thing of this year was how surprisingly warm it was. I visited the highlands of Iceland a few days before going to Greenland. It was quite cold there, with very strong winds and temperatures that reached around zero degrees; For the summer, that’s pretty cold. I expected the weather to be colder when I flew to Greenland, but the opposite was true.
Especially during the day, it was often higher than 10 degrees Celsius [50 degrees Fahrenheit]. I talked to people who were there all summer and mentioned that a few weeks before my arrival the temperatures were above 20 degrees Celsius [68 degrees Fahrenheit] and people walked in shorts. I really didn’t expect that.
Seeing that first giant iceberg is simply magical. But you see them flying with the plane. The first time I flew to Greenland was during a night with midnight sun with the beautiful purple light over the sea and ice. I could not believe what I was watching. Everything was so surreal, as in a world of dreams.
Browsing the icebergs and seeing new ones appear in each corner can make me behave like a little child in a candy store. I get very excited. Each iceberg looks different. I like to call them “mountains” or “mountain ranges” because they look like this. And some of them are the size of mountains. You can see that, particularly in my drone shots.
Did you have an idea of how locals felt about the rapid melting of ice?
People definitely know it, but currently, it is not really affecting villages. Once, a large piece broke near the port and made all the ice go right in front of the port. We were at sea at that time and it was difficult to return to the port. Actually, it seemed impossible. I flew with my drone to see how we could navigate back to the port (the drones are not only useful for taking photos) and eventually, a few hours later, we returned. However, I doubt that this had something to do with the merger in general, but it was an interesting adventure.
Most people only read about global warming but never get to experience something like this firsthand. How did it make you feel to see the melting up close?
Being there gives you a different perspective and makes it real. Most people only hear about it in the news. However, we do experience global warming globally in recent years, with records of heat and cold breaks year after year worldwide. But being there on the ice and seeing it gives you something extra. It’s not just ice but the whole stage. The heat, for example, already made all the yellow and red foliage, an autumn season that showed its first signs in August.
You also mention a lot of cruise tourism in the city. How did all those passengers impact the city, in your opinion?
Definitely. Seeing a new great cruise every two days in the port of Ilulissat definitely proved that Greenland is gaining popularity. And why not? It is extremely beautiful, so I can’t blame the people who want to visit. However, it is a bit sad that these tourists spend 99% of their money on cruise ships. Small towns do not earn much from them.
And yes, when a big ship arrives, the whole town is full of people. On days without boats, it is very quiet. So it has a big impact. Sometimes I walked alone along the hiking trails around Ilulissat, but it looked like a theme park every time a large cruise ship arrived. They are also building a large visitor center that will benefit from all these tourists.
Why was it important to draw attention to these problems when writing about your time in Greenland?
Simply because I care. People may think that I don’t do it and that I am “part of the problem” by showing the beauty and taking photographic tours in Greenland (although this is just a bit of tourism and we support local hotels and restaurants). And this may be true, but on the other hand: with series like this I have the possibility to show all the beauty of Greenland. And by showing beauty, I can automatically create awareness of what is happening to this planet. Because people know it. With a series of photos like this, I think it strengthens the connection with the problem.
What do you expect people to remove from photographs and your trip?
The simple of consciousness. Global warming awareness and see how a beautiful place like Greenland will no longer be there for future generations