michael bailey gates and thomas whiteside take a loved-up trip to iceland
Snapshots from a week of moonlight swims, walks through the lava fields, and a bonfire with Björk.
"There is a strangeness and novelty about love." says New York-based photographer Michael Bailey Gates. "Somehow, if you're in love, it's ok to drop everything and get on a plane." This was how he rationalised a recent adventure to the snow-covered wilds of Iceland with his boyfriend, photographer Thomas Whiteside. And while Michael admits that "love is nothing like it is in the movies," theirs looks every bit as beautiful and cinematic in the photos Thomas shared with us.
"The days in Iceland were so short — the sun came up at 11:30am and set at 3:30pm. And between those hours, it still felt like either dawn or dusk. The warm, coloured light falling on Michael during sunset at our friend's house in the countryside created a nice juxtaposition with the winter landscape just outside the windows."
"We had to crawl down a hole in the middle of nowhere to find this cave. The roof was dotted with huge openings that acted like natural skylights."
"Mike whistling a tune. We were surrounded by this empty expanse of wilderness. There were no animals or other people — just the sound of our footsteps crunching on the winter grass — and the silence felt like we were in a movie."
"The crazy backdrop of the snow-covered mountains outside Reykjavik, and the isolation, gave us such a rush."
"The air everywhere in Iceland was cool and refreshing. Everything felt so untouched. Even in the city, water from the tap tasted purer than it does at home."
"The ground in the countryside was covered in moss and soft under our feet."
"On New Year's Eve, we gathered at the Reykjavik Cathedral to watch the fireworks. Reykjavik is the best place I've ever celebrated the New Year — everyone buys their own fireworks and sets them off in their backyards. As we walked down from the hill through the city, there were beautiful explosions of colour all around us."
"Earlier in the evening, we'd been to a giant bonfire with Björk in her neighbourhood. Then we all walked to the church square together, drinking champagne and dancing."
"Our friend James Merry and his boyfriend own the most perfect cabin in the mountains 20 minutes from Reykjavik. One night, we took a moonlit hike to a nearby lake."
"Mike in the Blue Lagoon, a natural hot spring in the Grindavík lava field. The water is said to have healing properties and hanging out here is a ritual in Iceland. In winter, getting out of the pools into the cold air is hard, but it gives you an amazing surge of energy. It reminded Mike of a quote from Peter Schjeldahl's Notes On Beauty: "I feel that everything is going to be all right. Later I am pleasantly a little tired all over, as after swimming."
Photography Thomas Whiteside