Legoland and the Great Beyond, Greenland

A sweeping view of housing in the city of Ilulissat, Greenland

A Taste of the Exotic

Whether it be a spicy dish from Southeast Asia, a golden beach looking onto a turquoise sea or an adventure to one of the world’s most remote locales we all crave the sense of beauty, peace and bliss such experiences promise. The town of Ilulissat, Western Greenland is just such a place.

Armchair Travelers Arise

For most folks the town may not seem to offer so much. But its position, on the shores of Disko Bay, and its proximity to the incredible Ilulissat Icefjord has made it one of the country’s major tourist destinations. For the intrepid traveler, wanting to experience a sense of the sublime beauty and wildness Greenland has to offer, Ilulissat is a destination I highly recommend.

Greenland is a long way from almost anywhere. Personally I’d find it hard to justify another trip there, as it’s a very long way from my home in Melbourne, Australia. But as an extension to a trip to, for example, Iceland or the fabulous Faroe Islands it’s well worth considering.

While Ilulissat is, primarily, a staging point from which to explore the region, it’s not without its own charm. I’m sure in winter, when the hard, rocky ground is covered in snow it can be quite charming.

It’s All About Light

My own visit was in late July, during the height of the midnight sun. The long daylight hours at that time of year present incredible opportunities for the landscape photographer, as does the extended golden light as a slow fading sunset is quickly followed by a new day’s sunrise. 

A view over the town of Ilulissat out over Disko Bay towards distant mountains, Greenland.

The Power of Duality

Photography is, after all, about light: its presence and its absence. Remember that light reveals and shadows define.

I was fortunate to undertake some fantastic walks into the wild, just outside of town, which were an incredible experience. Yet, despite the sheer scale and grandeur of massive icebergs floating off shore, I was also drawn to photograph the town itself.

The architecture is somewhat bizarre and, quite probably, an experiment in social housing. I couldn’t believe how much these buildings seemed to resemble a kind of Legoland.

An Evening Walk With My Camera

I made the above image, at the end of a fairly tough, extended hike around parts of Disko Bay overlooking the Ilulissat Icefjord.

After climbing back over the hills that overlook the town I walked through the eerie silence of the local tip, where dozens of huskies growled and viewed me with suspicion, back onto one of Ilulissat’s few roads. It must have been near 5am and, with my hotel bed featuring heavily in my thoughts, I turned around to see lovely, soft morning light illuminating housing and the surrounding landscape on the edge of town. "Just one more photo" (famous last words), I said to myself.

Beauty and the Artist

It seems to me that beauty is not just about where you are or what you're looking at, but how you look at the world around you. And that’s very much shaped by who you are: your character, background and world view. That, together with knowledge and experience in your craft, ultimately determine your own, individual way of seeing the world.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru