Photographer Moves to Iceland to Explore the Country’s Otherworldly Glacier Caves

Man in Icelandic Cave with Northern Lights in the Background

Inspired by the ice caves he encountered on his first trip to Iceland, photographer Ryan Newburn moved to the country and became a glacier guide. Now, he owns his own glacier tour company, which allows him to continue to explore these natural wonders and share them with the public. The photographs of his adventures give a remarkable glimpse of the frozen beauty of these caves. Often capturing a single figure exploring the icy environment, Newburn is able to juxtapose the scale of these giant caves against their explorers.

Continuously melting and reforming, the ice caves are a never-ending source of inspiration for the American photographer, who moved to Iceland 2018. “Ice caves are some of the most surreal and unique places to both experience and photograph anywhere on Earth,” Newburn tells My Modern Met. “On a planet where 99% of the world has been mapped and explored, new ice caves form every day as old ones melt away. This means that there are a never-ending amount of caves to discover and explore on the glacier. For example, the first cave that I visited back in 2016 doesn't exist anymore. What's left is just rock and open air, showing no signs that it was even there in the first place.”

Newburn's images tell an incredible story about the beauty of ice and how it shapes our world. In a time when global warming is rapidly changing how and when ice forms, his visuals are a reminder of nature's power and what we risk losing. “The ice that you see inside any given cave can date from 200-1,000 years old,” he says. “It can have ash from ancient volcanic eruptions trapped inside of it, as if locked in a time capsule, only to be uncovered at that moment. Its melting walls affect how we live even if most do not realize it, as its newly released fresh water is dumped into the ocean.”

Through his work as a photographer and as a guide, Newburn hopes to spur conversation around these glacier caves and what they mean to our planet.

American photographer Ryan Newburn moved to Iceland in 2018 to work as a glacier guide.

Person Inside an Ice Cave in Iceland Man Rapelling Inside Icy Cave in Iceland Iceland Ice Caves by Ryan Newburn

He now owns his own tour company, where he brings visitors into these magical environments.

Cave in Iceland Iceland Ice Caves by Ryan Newburn Cave in Iceland by Ryan Newburn

“No two ice caves are ever the same. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and histories.”

Cave in Iceland by Ryan Newburn Iceland Ice Caves by Ryan Newburn Iceland Ice Caves by Ryan Newburn Iceland Ice Caves by Ryan Newburn Person Inside an Ice Cave in Iceland Cave in Iceland by Ryan Newburn Person Inside an Ice Cave in Iceland

Ryan Newburn: Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Ryan Newburn.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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