Shedding Light on a Faraway Land

For The Intelligencer, Andy McCullough’s review of Jenkintown photographer, John Welsh, and his travels in Iceland.


By Andy McCullough


Iceland slowly drew in John Welsh.

It wasn’t until his second trip to the North Atlantic nation that the Jenkintown-based photographer realized the opportunity before him.
“I rented a car and took a trip out into the countryside,” he said. “And I realized “this is an amazing place.’ ”

That was in the spring of 2002. A few months later, Welsh returned and began taking pictures.

Over five years, he took 8,000 pictures during six more visits. The result: “Images of Iceland,” a photo exhibit now being shown in the Brendlinger Library at Montgomery County Community College. The gallery will be open until Aug. 11.

Welsh became interested in the country while traveling through Scandinavia in 1993. While riding the train throughout the area, he found himself flipping to an entry in the back of his travel book on Iceland. He resolved to visit there, which he first did in the winter of 2001.

Welsh has been a photographer for 20 years, but this was his first project shooting landscapes. Most of his prior work had been freelance photography of people for newspapers in the Philadelphia area, which he said gave him a fresh perspective for the gallery.

Rather than sitting around waiting for the ideal lighting, as most landscape photographers tend to do, Welsh chose a different tactic.

“I went to different locations and I tried to make the best of the lighting, whether it was the perfect setting or not,” he said.

What comes across is a natural perspective of Iceland, a land of great geologic diversity ranging from glaciers to thermal pools.

Pictures in the exhibit range from the red sand beaches of Lake Kleifarvatn to the breathtaking Dynjandi waterfall to the scorched earth surrounding the active volcano Hekla.
A caption accompanies each photograph, which Welsh said helps explain his experiences in the country.

Underneath a shot of a storm blowing off the mountains in the Hafrafell region, Welsh writes, “I wondered if this is how Iceland’s ghosts travel.”
Said Welsh, “I’m just trying to tell the story.”

Andy McCullough can be reached at (215) 957-8148 or AMCCULLOUGH@PHILLYBURBS.COM.



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