In retrospect, I can say that all my interactions with the island country of Iceland have in some way or another been facilitated by Gudmundur Ingolfsson. Knowing him first through his photographic exchange with my father, Wayne Gudmundson, allowed me to witness his penchant for jokes and storytelling, be amazed at his encyclopedic mind, and get to know Iceland in a more profound way, but looking into his photographic career, which spans some 40 years, offered a new perspective on his artistically rich life. Beginning as a student of Otto Steinert at the Folkwang College of Arts, Guðmundur went on to work commercially through his studio IMYND (image in Icelandic) and has specialized in culinary, architectural, and artistic performance photography, besides his personal work. Below we speak of the mix between commercial and personal, his photographic beginnings, and a look at photography in Iceland, all while visually showcasing Guðmundur's personal work.
How did your experiences as a student of Otto Steinert’s help begin your photographic career?
I studied dentistry for two semesters and when I gave it up I needed to study something "respectable." I simply couldn’t be an apprentice to a photographer in Reykjavik. There was this place in Germany that was the first, and maybe even the first place in Europe, where they taught photography on an academic level. This had already started 10-15 years earlier in the U.S., soon after the War. Steinert had started in Saarbrucken and he became a director of the school there and they gave him the title of professor. When he moved to Essen, there were better facilities and better finances. He also started a collection of photography for the city of Essen. He was originally a medical doctor, a dermatologist, who had given up medicine for photography. I simply wrote a letter to introduce myself and sent some pictures. Steinert, plus a committee at the school, decided if you were accepted or not.
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