Photographer Magnus Unnar Shoots Everything

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Published March 17, 2010

 

 

With his shy, nervous eyes, his verbal indecision, and a stubbly auburn beard, photographer Magnus Unnar’s energy off-set isn’t that of the silent voyeur or the reserved portraitist. Perhaps it’s that offbeat persona that gives the composition akilter, bawdy flashbulb and fuzzy vintage coloring. Now based in New York, the Iceland-born Unnar began his adventures in photography at the age of 16 when, concerned about their child’s dyslexia, his parents enrolled him in art school. “There was a darkroom,” he recalls, “and I thought oh, I’ll try that. And as soon as I did, I was like Whoa!, I want to do that! It’s just so spontaneous and quick and the moment I started, I just loved it.”

Unnar has gone on to conquer Interview‘s very own pages (he photographed daddy-architect Peter Marino for us last year), and those of i-D, V, Purple and Dazed and Confused. And now, 20 years spent , he has released his very first monograph, In the Middle of Something. Shot primarily in Iceland, the limited edition monograph is a highly personal collection of 27 never before seen candids that Magnus has amassed over the years. “It’s just everything,” he said when prompted for a description. “It’s moments. It’s my family, friends, ex-girlfriends and my mom’s dogs. They’re pictures that I really truly love. And I want to show them.”

If you’ve got it, flaunt it. From a jovial topless beach scene to a nocturnal image of a drunkenly toilet-papered Jeep to a friend flailing from a flag pole in nothing but his skivvies, the images advocate impulsive energy. Grounding the snapshot mentality are more sentimental pictures, featuring his mother curled up in a red armchair after the family’s Christmas party, and an image of a painting of his father’s ship at sea. “It’s a picture that was painted by my grandfather and when I was a little boy, I used to spend a month every year on this ship. So that picture means a lot to me because it has such a great history of me and my dad and my grandfather.” Art school might not give focus, these parents can attest, but it will give you memories.