Fascinated by the connection between human beings and nature, Anna Isabella Christensen began her photography journey several years ago. Christensen specializes in self-portrait photography and takes her camera with her as she goes on hikes. When she feels inspired, she puts on the dress that she carries with her and gets to work. While this practice has produced some incredible work, nothing is more spectacular than her recent selfie series in Iceland.
Christensen spent several months in Iceland and was fortunate to be there during the recent explosion of a volcano near Reykjavik. While thousands of people hike to view the eruption on a daily basis, and many photographers have documented the event, Christensen was looking for something different. Inspired by the power of the volcano, she came back 25 times in order to create a stunning set of self-portraits—none of which have been manipulated.
Enamored with how the lava glowed at night, as well as during sunrise and sunset, she spent many evenings close to the volcano. In doing so, she benefited from having the area mostly to herself, so she didn't have to worry about crowds in the photos. Staying at a safe distance, she would experiment with different compositions as her camera was set on a tripod with a timer.
“Most of the times I came up with the compositions after arriving at the eruption site depending on how it looked that night—every night was different. Sometimes I came up with ideas for the next day since I could only do one photoshoot per visit due to the cold,” Christensen tells My Modern Met. “It was so cold there every time that I took a lot of test shots before each photoshoot to find the best compositions. I had to be completely sure that putting on my dress would be worth it, as I could only pose for a very limited amount of time due to the cold.”
While most of Christensen's self-portraits deal with themes of peace and harmony; however, this work is quite different. “This series is about releasing the old and rebirth—a healing fire that removes everything that no longer serves us so we can be free to live the life we want to live. This is what I felt while spending time there—it felt like a new beginning and it even led to some new life decisions for me. I hope that others will feel this transformative energy when they look at my eruption photos. I hope they inspire strength and courage.”
These powerful photographs certainly radiate energy. And knowing that Christensen does not manipulate the background in any way is even more thrilling. As she poses in her red dress, proudly looking upward, it's impossible not to feel the emotion that moves through her. She's managed to harness nature in a respectful manner and have it join in to become a partner in producing this moving series of self-portraits.