By Nicole Drumheller Gargus
Although many of Jenkintown photographer John Welsh’s photographs are stunning enough to be postcards, they are not the blue-sky, tourist-driven images of travel brochures. Rather, they give insight into what life is really like in remote Iceland.
A delicate green flower struggles to bloom on a rocky terrain. Majestic snow-covered mountains disappear into thick gray clouds. Refreshing waterfalls roar through the almost deafening silence of the land.
Welsh first traveled to Iceland in 2001 out of curiosity. Images of the country’s barren and rugged landscape stirred his imagination and sparked his interest. He went there strictly as a tourist. He took a few snapshots for interested family and friends, but as a journalistic photographer of 20 years, he mostly left his day job at home. However, over his next seven visits to Iceland, he discovered that photographs were an effective way to document his travels and keep a fulfilling journal.
Of his work Welsh said, “Overall, this project is more about my travels than it is my photographs.” Welsh enjoyed the upbeat life of Reykjavik, but his travels consisted largely of spontaneous three- to four-week drives around the island. As he passed through small towns of around 300 people, he would stay in small hotels or guesthouses.
Welsh saw the country in various stages over the years, and he realized his photographs could educate and enrich the lives of others. Welsh decided to share his photographs with the public so that people could experience his journeys and learn about this seemingly undiscovered country.
Each photograph has its own unique description – the gallery is a passport to another world. On traveling alone, Welsh said, “For me it is about freedom. There is no noise, no cell phones, no distractions – I find time to look inward.” Walking through Welsh’s gallery, it is easy to see the freedom he finds there.
IF YOU GO: John Welsh’s “Images of Iceland” will be on display at MONTGOMERY COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422, through Aug. 11. Free & open to the public. Info: 215- 619-7349.