Maya Nelson Wolfsdottir: Barefoot Creature

Uploaded 27 Dec 2008 — 40 favorites
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© seanie blue
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Photo Info
UploadedDecember 28, 2008
TakenDecember 27, 2008
MakeNikon Corporation
ModelNIKON D300
Exposure1/200 sec at f/9
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length60 mm
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

The model is early and I am in the wrong place, so I am forced to admit, again, to being late. I find her in the lobby, in a rage, almost in tears. Two little kids are selling their parents’ DVD collection on Christmas Eve, and the model buys every disc; in fury she trashes the discs outside the studio and shouts, “What is happening to my country?” In the studio we discover she has forgotten her makeup and a bulb immediately blows in the flash sync system I will be using to shoot her. Off on the wrong foot, she simmering, me muttering, the country in a tailspin, and in the Arctic darkness a hurricane brews and yesterday’s invitation on Skype to pop down to Tangier to shoot a friend’s villa suddenly makes a lot of sense.

But there is only one Maya Nelson Wolfsdottir, and you can yak about all the superlatives we use to label the pretty and the precious, but in her case a million words fit and the one I leave you with is “creature,” because this is a woman who grew up barefoot on ice, chasing horses, rounding up stray sheep with a wand. I ask about her middle name, snickering about a boy in her blood, and she says “I got it from Mandela, and it’s the proudest thing I got,” which means a lot because Iceland is a nation burdened with a terrible pride, its mortal anchor. You can read about the country’s crisis and get a supermarket of explanation, but basically 30 thieves have railroaded the family, stolen right from under everyone’s noses, and are still in charge, dragging the country into the sewer while they escape to the Costa del Sol with apologies and platinum parachutes.

“You make me laugh,” says Maya between costume changes, “But I don’t know if I want to keep modeling, so you better find somebody else for your next project.” But then she asks about my birthday, looming. She wants to know what time of day I came in, and somehow I twist the talk around so she answers her own question:

Maya Nelson Wolfsdottir was “born in a snowstorm. Mother insisted on giving birth to me in the woods. She goes to church, tried to make me do first communion, so the forest was not some pagan ritual. She wanted me to connect to the soil, or didn’t want me to be touched by plastic. She changes her story, depending on who is talking to her. You can read that I was born in the desert, or that I was born at sea, dropped among dolphins before I could see.”

We both laughed when we saw the other get wiped out by an Arctic wave last week on the pebbled beaches of the far north, where not a soul lives between us and the Pole. We are fatally competitive. How do I top her birth?

I say to Maya: “It doesn’t matter how you come in, but how you go out. And it’s this exit that bothers me, sits on my head like sour rain, droplets of sulfuric acid that poison any thoughts about surfing or sunflowers. My exit. How do I go? Kicking and screaming, or smoothed with sorries and compromise?”

You fight, she says.

Yes, says me, and I keep score.

Hmm, she replies.

31 responses

  • Robert Sand

    Robert Sand said (27 Dec 2008):

    Handsomely done, as always. May the year be kind to you.

  • Chris Whitney

    Chris Whitney said (27 Dec 2008):

    Well Sean-time to call it a day; I had to check JPG one last time, and your words will be the last in my mind today.

  • Pilar Coll i Gatells

    Pilar Coll i Gatells said (27 Dec 2008):

    Com sempre. . .interesant.

  • Kiwi ana

    Kiwi ana (Deleted) gave props (28 Dec 2008):

    Hsppy Birthday Seanie Blue. The whole world's a bit topsy turvy today but you again found curiousity and beauty. I always feel I have to thank you for your powerfuk images and strongly crafted words. Hugs K

  • Alexis - Now on Flickr

    Alexis - Now on Flickr gave props (28 Dec 2008):

    Seanie, you can evoke the essence of a fairy tale, a sense of wonder and magic, at will it seems. My vote of course.

  • Laura Boston-Thek

    Laura Boston-Thek gave props (28 Dec 2008):

    As damned intriguing my friend!! MORE MORE MORE.....that is all my heart is saying

  • Zapata Juan P

    Zapata Juan P   gave props (28 Dec 2008):

    My vote, great work !

  • Jason Platt

    Jason Platt gave props (28 Dec 2008):

    rockin off the charts as usual!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (28 Dec 2008):

    Hell...Yeah! It rocks!

  • Rachel Mckinnie

    Rachel Mckinnie gave props (28 Dec 2008):

    Your words always leave me Sean...

  • Noa Siegrist

    Noa Siegrist gave props (28 Dec 2008):

    Tiene mi voto.

  • Audrey Kanekoa-Madrid

    Audrey Kanekoa-Madrid (Deleted) gave props (28 Dec 2008):

    Beautiful.....totally rocks!!

  • Konrad Ragnarsson

    Konrad Ragnarsson gave props (30 Dec 2008):

    Yeah it rocks,what else!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Vicenç !!!

    Vicenç !!! gave props (31 Dec 2008):


  • Pilar Coll i Gatells

    Pilar Coll i Gatells said (6 Jan 2009):

    Hasta siempre, Seanie.

  • Leanna Lomanski

    Leanna Lomanski gave props (9 Jan 2009):

    I often feel like I live in a not-very-parallel universe when I read your images. I am like an outsider in the connected earth that you inhabit and traverse. However, I am thankful for the glimpses you share.........

  • Laurie Search

    Laurie Search gave props (10 Jan 2009):


  • Hector Ortiz

    Hector Ortiz gave props (11 Jan 2009):

    you re like a come and go....

  • Hector Ortiz

    Hector Ortiz gave props (11 Jan 2009):

    a vote for you...

  • Sherry Davis Johnson

    Sherry Davis Johnson gave props (12 Jan 2009):

    My vote!

  • Christopher Long

    Christopher Long gave props (14 Jan 2009):

    Beautiful portrait.

  • Jean Pierre Vacherot

    Jean Pierre Vacherot (Deleted) gave props (17 Jan 2009):

    Great portrait, my vote

  • Eugenia Kyriakopoulou

    Eugenia Kyriakopoulou (Deleted) gave props (12 Feb 2009):

    Awesome portrait!

  • claudio gobbi

    claudio gobbi gave props (17 Mar 2009):

    great shot!my vote!!!

  • Cjor

    Cjor gave props (29 Mar 2009):

    Another nice shot, an easy vote, well done

  • Andrew Lorimer

    Andrew Lorimer (Deleted) gave props (24 May 2009):

    Beautiful Capture !!! Well Done

  • ! Mario Scattoloni ¡

    ! Mario Scattoloni ¡ gave props (21 Jan 2010):

    I am floored by U both & may you both go out ablazin....

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (9 Apr 2010):

    Your words and pictures are intense and wonderful!

  • Roxana Brivent-Barnes

    Roxana Brivent-Barnes said (30 Aug 2010):

    Agree with Sonia, I enjoy reading, and the frames with it!

  • Debrah Leonard

    Debrah Leonard (Deleted) gave props (13 Dec 2010):


  • Debrah Leonard

    Debrah Leonard (Deleted) gave props (13 Dec 2010):


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