Storage rooms and attics are known to be home to many a treasure; old photographs that spark beautiful memories from times long gone or even retro gadgets that may inspire a new hobby. For Katrin Braga, the storage room discovery that would forever change her life aged fifteen, was her father’s old film camera. Growing up in the remote town of Fellabær, Iceland, Katrin’s life had revolved around exploring the natural environment and chasing down the elves and mythical creatures of her childhood fantasy. In discovering photography, she found a way to share her own experience of life with starkly bewitching visuals. One can genuinely feel the juxtaposition present in the images of her native surroundings: the vastness of the landscape and the undeniable solitude within. Her photo series, simply titled “Iceland”, invites viewers to truly familiarize themselves with nature’s many moods – a bipolar existence of extreme highs and lows, perfectly captured by its many cycles of light. Upon moving to Iceland’s biggest city, Reykjavik, Katrin developed her creative outlets and her passion for photography further.
“The art scene in Reykjavik is phenomenal. People there spend a lot of time indoors because of the weather and nearly year round darkness, so to survive the winter they tend to create things to keep their morals high. It sometimes feels like everybody is a musician, artist or a writer…or a little bit of everything.”
Her time in Reykjavik offered Katrin the right creative atmosphere to grow as an artist and photographer. Though she has moved on to Vancouver, where she has established herself as a fashion photographer who works outside of conventional norms, her Icelandic roots are still very much present in her editorial shoots. A fashion photo series for Montecristo Magazine titled “Bull Rush”, shows a red-haired model perfectly blending into the natural elements around her – the model’s hair and the wavy, dry swathe become one. The clothes patterns seemingly reflect upon the backdrop’s shapes and forms.
“I think it’s because of growing up in Iceland, where I was always surrounded by beautiful nature. I think that just happened naturally without me planning it.”
Katrin’s muse is the world around her – its people, its plant and animal kingdom, the changes of the season. But she also draws heavily on nostalgic sentiments and images, often luring her subjects into different eras, both stylistically and emotionally. Her photo series “Mall Rats” for VICE USA, captures a specific type of nineties cluelessness and innocence. It evokes a particular high-school feeling, complete with an awkward self-awareness and peer cruelty, whilst highlighting the shameless self-obsession of the millennial.
“I’ve always been obsessed with nostalgia and eras before my time. The past feels like a distant dream that I try to capture on film.”
If you want to dig deeper into Katrin Braga’s emotional being, you can do so by ways of her documentary series. These images are incredibly raw and energetic, capturing youthful spirits and intimate, strong moments in a most tangible manner. It is as though you are flipping through the photo album of a group of strangers; by the time you get to the last page, those formerly unknown faces will feel familiar, almost as though they are coaxing you to create your own memories around these entities.
“My documentary work usually consists of photos of what I’m doing and experiencing at the time. I started documenting my life when I was a teenager and this continued throughout the years; I think I will never stop. It’s kind of like a time capsule or story of my life that I’m saving.”
The pictures of her grandfather within this series, are particularly striking. There’s a silent, yet overwhelmingly powerful bond between the subject and the person behind the camera. Every-day situations, routines and rituals are made of value here; they are an essential part of Katrin’s time capsule.
“The photo series of my grandfather was planned with the intention of keeping the memory of him alive forever. I also directed a short documentary about him that is coming out soon.”
Her move from Iceland to Vancouver, Canada, has helped her shape the person and photographer she has become. You can feel this inner growth and embrace of urban life through her images; the photographic approach has become more focused on the soft edginess found in city life and the people in it.
“Moving to Vancouver helped me expand my vision and meet with different people and experience other cultures. It also helped me grow and become even more professional when I’m on set.”
Katrin has found her groove in Vancouver and seems to have found a way to bring her own, Icelandic tranquillity into the fast-paced dynamic of the big city. Just like her photos, which amalgamate subjects and backdrops, her mythical background has blended with her present home.
“I usually wake up and go to my favourite cafe by my house and spend time drinking my coffee, reading articles, and going over my itinerary for the day. I then walk to my studio, put on some music and wait for others to arrive. I do prep work at my studio with the team and either shoot in the studio or go out on location. Every day is different; I’m constantly meeting new people and I’m always creating things—that’s why I love my job.”