A Positive Portrayal Of Life’s Journey Through Photography It is a familiar metaphor: the open road. We see it in films, perhaps at the end after the character has overcome a challenge or become enlightened and we watch them head off, toward a new destination, relaxed and enjoying the journey. We see it in adverts to signify freedom, adventure and often contentment. We hear about it in songs, ‘the road’ travelled on, or choosing a path to follow. Photographer and advocate for all things outdoors, Gustav Willeit, has put ‘the road’ centre stage in his collection ‘Ster’. An ongoing project documenting stunning roads all over Iceland and the Canary Islands, Gustav shows us the importance of slowing done, of appreciating where we are right now and taking our focus off the distance for a moment to see that we are constantly arriving at something new. A symmetry runs through each photograph, we sit at the centre of the road as it peaks into the distance, yet this is counteracted the asymmetry of the surroundings. The road, the man-made element of the image, is predictable and straight while the natural surroundings have less of a pattern to them, they are unkempt and uncontrollable. The two work in tangent and cause us to look again, our eyes naturally follow the parallel lines of the road but then they re-focus and notice the snow-capped mountains, forests and dessert scenery which they run through. And ‘re-focusing’ is exactly what is important here – being conscious of where our attention goes, not letting our eyesight take us but rather us take our eyesight. The collection will have you itching to begin a journey of your own or even just remembering to look side-to-side once in a while because otherwise we only look to the distance – and the distance is never palpable. We spoke to Gustav about the stories and similarities of his work. The Plus: How were the trips and how long did it take to shoot Ster? Gustav Willeit: The trips were great, these are all volcanic landscapes and the thing I like most is that the ground and views are constantly changing. I started with the project 4 years ago and it has just kept going. TP: What’s the idea and story behind Ster? GW: I find it fascinating to see the contrast between the straight lines of the roads and the natural beauty of the landscape. I find it interesting that something as simple as a straight road can symbolise whatever you want it to depending on what significance it has to you. TP: They all look similar but they are different, what do you want the audience to feel when looking at your work? GW: There are lots of different elements to this series. For me, it is about imagining the goal, the final point, reaching a destination at the end of the road but then also allowing yourself to see how amazing the journey itself is. Getting to your destination can be just as beautiful as reaching it and I think that in that sense, these photos represent life in some way. TP: What else do you do? GW: As a photographer I try to show my way of thinking through a variety of different projects. I mainly do landscape-fine art photography but I also work with architects and I really like to combine the “man-made” with nature. TP: What do you love or enjoy the most about landscape photography? GW: It’s just great to be outside! TP: What/where next? GW: I’m working on a few projects but the biggest for me right now is to stay healthy and happy.