Behind the Scenes of Glamorously Surreal Ice Cave Photos by Miss Aniela

Just what goes into taking glamorously surreal photos? If you don't think there's that much planning that goes into taking a shot or two like this, you'd be absolutely wrong. Miss Aniela recently took a trip to Iceland to capture these images. She and her crew had to brave cold and icey conditions in order to get these spectacularly surreal shots. In her own words, here she is explaining the idea for the shoot, her set of challenges, and how she feels about the end result.

Photo: Chris Seid

Photo: Chris Seid

The Idea for the Shoot

“We first visited Iceland in April 2014 where we saw some amazing places. We run the Fashion Shoot Experience where a group of photographers from around the world join us on adventures, and this time it was an expedition in Iceland, traveling together in a big ‘monster truck', staying at different hotels on a road trip around the southern part of Iceland, visiting black sands, waterfalls, landmarks and amazing scenery along with a crew of models and styling. The country has a real prehistoric feel and raw textures that any landscape photographer would love, but we wanted to bring fashion alongside it.

“However, it was too warm a time of year for the ice caves, so for this we had to return at a colder time, in November. Our plan for the ice cave was to shoot our four models wearing dresses (a mixture of outfits made by the stylist, a designer, and ourselves) lit by strobe inside the cave to make a dynamic fashion shoot in a unique – and risky – location! It proved to be the most difficult conditions we have shot in.”


“We still had some trouble with the November weather during our trip which denied access to a certain cave we wanted to visit. However, our native guides had a backup plan for another cave, a cross between a cave and a tunnel. First we drove off-road for a very bumpy 20 minutes, then met with the guides to put on helmets and walk 10 minutes by a glacier to the entry of the ice cave. It took about 5 minutes for all 15 of us to get through the tunnel by stooping low, almost crawling. It then opened out into a spectacular ‘ice arena'. Just in the area where the light was entering the other end, we set up the main shot, with the model in the center of the eye-like opening of the other end of the cave, framed by the amazing ice of the ceiling of the tunnel and the icicles behind her.

“The impractical nature of the tight space was a challenge, but the main challenge was the cold. It was tough for everyone being in the soggy cold for a prolonged period of time whilst we shot each of the four models one by one. It did not make it easy to experiment with composition and lighting, because we were busy worrying about keeping the model's posing time to a minimum. So, I settled for the one shooting spot, and composition, and worked on just capturing the models' posing best I could.”

The End Result

“The model featured in my chosen finished image is Carmen Obied, who posed for at least 10 minutes, throwing fancy dancing shapes caught by the strobe. Her poses had wonderful conviction and in Photoshop I worked on bringing out the pink of her dress, and the blue of the surrounding ice, to make an interesting color palette. As with most all of my images shot in Iceland, I wanted to keep the natural beauty of the image intact, but also bring out of the best of it so it becomes even more naturally surreal. I did not want to add anything crazy other than to draw attention to how crazy those gleams and shapes in the archway of ice already were in reality! It is a challenge to capture both an interesting landscape and fashion portrait, as I wanted to make the most of the ice cave in the shot, but using her shape as a splayed decoration of human energy in the middle.”

“We had shot two of the models inside the ice cave, and two out the other end by the ‘ice arena' as the guide called it. Here I shot model Grace Gray posing against the vast frozen landscape with her red hair flowing in the wind, wearing a green Dupioni silk dress. Here we came upon another challenge: the rain and wind started whipping round our faces and cameras, so before long, we packed away and headed back through the tunnel to the truck, and flasks of relieving hot chocolate.”

Credits, All Images:

Photography & Production: Miss Aniela, Stylist: Minna Attala, Hair & Makeup: Grace Gray, Shot on the, Nikon D810 with 24-70mm

Freeze Frame, Model: Carmen Obied, Dress & Jewellery: Stylist's own
In the Arena, Model: Grace Gray, Dress: Miss Aniela & Minna Attala, Headpiece and Necklace: Clea Broad

Miss Aniela's website and Facebook page

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