It’s only September, but the wind chill hits -30 degrees Celcius on the Greenland ice cap for the third day in a row. Lying in the warmth of my sleeping bag, I can see the fog of my breath illuminated by my headlamp. Suddenly, I realize I’ve forgotten my boots outside overnight, and they’re frozen solid, tough as bricks. So, the day kicks off with my footwear sandwiched between dehydrated dinner bags filled with hot water. Thirty minutes of thawing later, and I can get a move on with what I’m actually there to do: shoot a film about photography with French filmmaker Mathieu Le Lay.
The misadventures that day didn’t start with frozen boots. Every two hours throughout the night, Mat and I took turns going to our water supply—a nearby supraglacial lake—where we punched through the surface of the ice with our tripods for fear it would freeze solidly enough to shut down our hydration source for good. It was an important lesson that, at times, what threatens a photo expedition isn’t malfunctioning gear or dead batteries; it’s your own body’s batteries that make all the difference.
Sleep-deprived, with boots finally on, we venture out onto the ice cap, and the wind is howling. As a photographer, you know that it will be one of those days where you’ll be very selective about what you stop for, and when each shot has to be earned. All day, our voices are muffled by the balaclavas and the gale, and hand signals prevail. Our silence isn’t due to a lack of excitement. For hours we explore in quiet bliss, photographing crevasses of an impossible blue, sneaking between teetering seracs, and peering down every millwell we stumble upon.