Over the years I have written many articles on Viking related activities in Iceland as those of you, who read my blog, know - I love my Viking ancestry and am always on the look-out for Viking related locations and activities to show you in Iceland. And guess what, in my own city, Reykjavík, I found a professional studio off Laugavegur, our main shopping street down-town, which specialises in Viking portraits.
I think this is a great souvenir to take back home from Iceland, maybe the best - a unique, professional Viking portrait of yourself - alone - or with your friends and family - showing the mysterious and fierce unleashing of your inner Viking warrior in Iceland!
So, when I found out about the Viking portrait in Reykjavík I asked them to take some photos of me and my husband to see what we would have looked like as Vikings of the Settlement age in Iceland. Tell me what you think :)
Now, isn't this photo of my husband like something out of Game of Thrones! At least this is not the side of him I see at home ;) My husband is a professional magician and far from being serious - the photographer Gustavo said that it kind of ruined the image of the genial and funny magician seeing him so fierce looking with a sword :) This only goes to show that the fierce Viking warrior inside you gets released during the photo shoot!
My husband and I are both direct descendants of the Vikings and we can trace our ancestry as far back as to the first Viking settlers here in Iceland in ca 874 AD. But seeing that the old Viking stuff is mostly buried in the ground or on display at Þjóðminjasafnið - the National Museum of Iceland, then we have got nothing to show for our ancestry but our genes.
I have a hard time staying serious during a photo session, even though the serious photos come out very mysterious and Viking like. So every time poor Gustavo took a photo, no matter how hard I tried, I immediately put on a smile - habit, I guess :)
And of course I had to choose February for this photo session, when we Icelanders look washed out after a long and dark winter. I felt exposed and very white in the face and had just risen up from an awful cold, so I will ask you to take the will for the deed and concentrate on the good professional quality of these photos.
Now, serious Vikings or happy Vikings - would you compare the two photos above and below and tell me which facial expression you like more :)
The proprietor of the Viking portrait studio, Guðmann Þór Bjargmundsson and the photographer, Gustavo Marcelo Blanco, are such good people and love meeting and talking to visitors and tell them all about the Vikings. They even told me that they opened the Viking portrait to give our foreign guests the opportunity to meet locals in Iceland and educate them on our Viking ancestry. How cool is that?
I can tell you that we talked constantly during the photo session and had so much fun with it - Gustavo told me that he found it strange talking to us in our common language, Icelandic, as almost every visitor they get is from abroad :)
I am sure that more Icelanders will visit them to have their Viking warrior unleashed after finding out about the Viking portrait studio. This could be great fun for families, friends and workplaces - to have their Viking photos taken to see which one will have the most fearsome hidden Viking unleashed¨!
The photo above is shot on my camera by my husband to show you the photo-shoot in action.
Guðmann and Gustavo are both professional filmmakers and Guðmann is a member of the Viking club Rimmugýgur, which is located in Hafnarfjörður. Remember the Viking Village and the Viking Festival from my previous blogs?
These Vikings make all of their Viking clothes and leather-ware themselves and some of the craft they make can be bought at the small "shop-corner" at the studio.
Guðmann will of course give you some professional advice and guidance on all there is to know about Vikings, as he possesses a great wealth of information. Guðmann, who has always been a Viking at heart, has a strong connection to his Viking genes and their handiwork and has even designed his own leather-belt.
Guðmann first got interested in photography at the age of 8, when he borrowed a camera from his father. He immediately got hooked on taking photos, which evolved into him becoming a filmmaker in Iceland. I can relate to that feeling as I take tens of thousands of photos of Iceland on my travels in my country. Not professional photos like these guys do though.
They have taken it a step further and Guðmann has even worked with the filmmakers of Game of Thrones during the filming of some of the series scenes here in Iceland! I am hooked on Game of Thrones, excess violence for sure but this series is completely captivating.
I am thrilled to have my husband's photo looking like something straight out of Game of Thrones, as you can see earlier on in my blog.
The photo above is shot on my camera as I wanted to show you the preparation for the photo-shoot.
Now, let's see how the transformation from a normal you into a fierce Viking begins. You will be dressed up in Viking gear from head to toe and will be given Viking weapons to use. Everything in the Viking studio is hand-made and as authentic as can be. The Viking costumes are hand-made and made to look worn, so your Viking photo will look authentic - as you see everything is as authentic as possible, down to the smallest detail.
The swords and the shields have been used in the Viking fights at the Viking festival, so this is the real Mc Coy, as it were. Just bear in mind that the suit of armour is made out of steel and weighs "a tonne" - my husband wore it, but I was not even able to lift it up!
The set is made from driftwood, which is fitting as driftwood was a valuable resource in Iceland, seeing that forests were scarce on this volcanic island of ours.
All the fur at the studio is bought second-hand so no animals were harmed for the purpose of your Viking portrait. And both of the owners are vegetarians, so if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, like I used to be for 26 years, then just dress up in the old fur and unleash your inner Viking warrior without any guilt.
The Vikings would never have been able to survive in Iceland without the fur and meat of the animals, like we can today. So let's go wild and unleash our inner Viking warrior! :)
The Viking studio has lent their costumes to the Harpa concert and conference hall for the play on the Icelandic Sagas - the Greatest Hits in 75 minutes! When I went to that play I got to wear a cape, which I was told was used in one of the Game of Throne series here in Iceland, a really beautiful green cape, which you can see in my blog on the play.
Our Icelandic Sagas tell us about powerful Viking Clans fighting each other for the protection of their honour and the revenge of spilled blood of their own clan. These Sagas are real stories of love and betrayal, revenge and the lust for power.
If you read our Icelandic Sagas you will learn about the strong and independent Viking women - the Icelandic women have remained strong and independent throughout the centuries until modern times.
The Vikings searched for a new world in open Vikings ship on the open sea, and some of them settled on this volcanic island in the north, where they lived and fought the elements and each other. Here they had to survive through the cold and dark winters, drift ice and volcanoes, which continued to spew out ash and "red hot" lava.
Life was hard on this cold volcanic island, but these people had faith in their Nordic Gods - the Æsir.
The Vikings were interested in the other worlds as so many of us are today, and they had Völvur or seeresses, which were the fortunetellers of that time - connected to the North-American Indians' Shamanism. What do you think of my photo above, it looks kind of authentic, right? I look like I belong to the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft :)
Now you tell me, which photo is better, the serious, old looking "völva" in the photo above or the smiling "völva" in the photo below? ;)
Guðmann and Gustavo opened up the Viking Portrait studio in Laugavegur a couple of years ago. When you step into the studio on the second floor of the old building, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of our main shopping street, you will get a glimpse into the Age of the Vikings - and get in touch with your inner Viking. And why not go sailing like a Viking in a Viking ship from Reykjavík harbour after releasing your inner Viking?
Guðmann and Gustavo are such lovely guys, I wish them all the best with their Viking studio and am happy to have been given the chance to get to know them.
Be prepared for your inner fierce Viking to reveal itself and go home with a unique souvenir from Iceland!
Visit Guide to Iceland at our new office at City Hall by Reykjavík pond, where we were chosen to be the official travel information provider for the city of Reykjavík, for some great local advice on the best things to do in Reykjavík and around Iceland during your visit.