Sólfar: The Sun Voyager

Sólfar is a sculpture in Reykjavík, Iceland. I first saw this work in November, 2000, on my first visit to Iceland. I took a few photographs of it, like most tourists, but I can’t say that I really liked it. I thought it had a rather odd and awkward appearance.

When I returned to Iceland in the summer of 2003, I took a few more pictures of Sólfar, including the one seen here. I still didn’t really like it, it just seemed like one of those obligatory photographs. I remember walking around it, carefully choosing the best angle, and taking a single shot. I was happy with the result. I’m still happy with it. I think it’s a perfectly adequate picture. I added it to the Reykjavík article on Wikipedia, and that’s exactly what I think my picture is, a dull and dutiful, accurate picture of the subject.

When I joined Flickr, I started exploring other people’s photographs, and sought out pictures of my beloved Iceland. Of course, Iceland being so amazingly photogenic, I found hundreds of wonderful pictures, by both tourists and photographers fortunate enough to live in Iceland, including many of Sólfar.

I quickly learned that many people took pretty much the same view that I did. It’s the standard shot, safe and simple. But I was surprised at the variety of photographs I discovered. So many people had taken much more imaginative and interesting photographs than mine. Rather than framing this careful and making sure they got the whole piece into the picture, many of the most interesting photographs were from different angles, and captured only part of the sculpture.

I set up a Flickr group called Sólfar: The Sun Voyager as a way of bringing these works together. There are now over 160 photographs by over 80 different photographers, an impressive assortment that capture many different aspects of what I now see as a beautiful and unique work of art.

What I love about this group is that it seems we’re never finished. Just when I think I have seen every possible picture of Sólfar, someone posts something new.

Shadowy reflection of a long sailed ship from a departed imaginationThe most recent addition to the group, for example, shown here, called Shadowy reflection of a long sailed ship from a departed imagination by Flickr user Olikristinn, captures the reflection of the sculpture in the wet pavement — possibly the only photograph in the group’s pool that doesn’t actually show the sculpture itself. It’s a beautiful and unique addition to the group.

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