The Icelandic Photographer Takes Us On A Trip Into The Far Reaches Of Her Imagination

Words By John-Paul Pryor

Saga Sig is an Icelandic photographer whose aesthetic veers between seventies glamour and fantastical mysticism. There is a hard-to-pin magical aura to much of her often sexually-charged imagery that recalls the rich mythology at the heart of the land of ice and snow, and it arguably takes the best of her work beyond the realm of fashion and into the arena of high art.

Here, the increasingly celebrated young creative, whose work has graced the pages of Dazed & Confused and Salve Regina – and who shot the stark black-and-white fashion story Les Vampyres in our launch issue – discusses her unique influences, the inspiring beauty of nature and why the world would appear far more shallow were it not for the shadows of darkness cast upon the walls of reality...

Topman GENERATION: What first drew you to photography?

Saga Sig: The idea of being able to capture a moment forever. I'm a collector at heart, I feel like I'm collecting these moments so I can look at them again and again. I also like telling stories and I feel I can do that with my photography. My earliest memory of picking up a camera was at the age of eight – at the time, I lived in a national park called Thingvellir. That place is one of the most important historical sites in Iceland – exceptionally beautiful. I was inspired to capture the beauty of nature and light forever in a frame.

Topman GENERATION: How did you train as a photographer?

Saga Sig: I taught myself to use my digital camera and my film cameras. I studied art history back home in Iceland but I moved to London three years ago to study photography at the London College of Fashion. My advice to young people who want to do this is simply that practice makes perfect.

Topman GENERATION: What do you seek to capture in photography?

Saga Sig: I like to tell stories with my photos. I was an avid reader when younger – fairy tales, the Icelandic Sagas, theology... I read everything. I think I chose photography because I can tell stories with my imagery. A photograph can move – it can tell news, it can spread information, it can inspire and evoke emotions. Even though I have an introverted personality I do love to observe people and I am very good at reading people – I am inspired by people, their stories and emotions... I like to document these things with my images.

Topman GENERATION: What is your definition of beauty?

Saga Sig: Beauty comes in all forms, so defining it is almost impossible. For me, beauty is something that inspires. I can see beauty in almost everything around me – in death and life, woman and man. The world would appear shallow without the depth that the shadows create.

"I can see beauty in almost everything around me – in death and life, woman and man. The world would appear shallow without the depth that the shadows create"

Topman GENERATION: There is something very Icelandic that comes though in your work...

Saga Sig: Yes, I think it influences my work a lot, and my roots can be identified in my photography – the mystique, the love of nature, the love of storytelling and the fairytale themes. When you grow up in the countryside of Iceland it's difficult not to see ghosts or feel the energy of nature and the mystique in the air.

Topman GENERATION: How would you describe your aesthetic?

Saga Sig: Feminine, magical and colourful. I like to portray femininity and I am really interested in the history of women and the archetypal portrayal of women throughout history – the goddess, the femme fatale... I like magic, I like the unknown and the unexpected, and I like to make places or everyday surroundings magical.

Topman GENERATION: Having studied art history, where do you think art and fashion intersect?

Saga Sig: I am often asked about this, about the boundaries between fashion and art. I sometimes question whether an image in a fashion magazine with fashion credits actually can be categorised as fashion, even though it's shot by a fine art photographer... Does an image from a fashion magazine become art if it's a framed image on a wall in art gallery? I think what is important when looking at fashion and art is the context of the work. I understand why people are always thinking about how they can define fashion though– what is art and where they intersect. It is in our genes to put things into boxes and if something is difficult to identify people become nervous.

John-Paul Pryor is editor of Topman GENERATION, contributing arts editor at AnOther Magazine, editor-at-large for PORT magazine and regularly writes for Dazed & Confused, TANK and Sabotage Times