'I love the feeling of knowing I am in a moment that is changing my life. I often find that happens when I use my camera as a tool to engage in conversation with others.'
Rhombie Sandoval is a Californian born portrait photographer, currently in residence at Heima - translated as Home - in Iceland. She has been documenting her time in Iceland by capturing the people she has encountered, sharing insights into how others live. On her website you can view her series of portraits and on Instagram read captions of information about the people she has chosen to photograph; how they came to meet, their passions, personal stories and dreams.
Ahead of the release of Junko Iceland, featuring a series of Rhombie's photographs, we caught up with her to find out what drives her practice and how she is finding her time in Iceland.
Junko: Rhombie, you're originally from California - what drew you to Iceland in the first place, what intrigued you?
Rhombie: I often think about the concept of temporary homes, the idea of transitioning from tourist to local. There is so much to see in this world that staying in one place ignites my desire to go. I was drawn to Iceland because I was at a time in my life where I wanted to be around people but also experience the quiet. Upon arrival my goal was to say yes to any form adventure presented itself in. I left a completely different person than when I arrived. I could have travelled anywhere and been given opportunities for immense growth, the only difference was I was ready to participate this time.
J: Can you tell us what you're working on in Iceland, with the Heima project? Are there other projects/series you're working on too in Iceland?
R: I am an artist-in-residence at Heima, which means home in Icelandic. Heima is an on-going body of work that includes portraits of those who have made me feel at home during my time in Iceland. I am also working with Austurbrú, photographing the towns of Austurland as we share the stories of the locals and spirit of East Iceland. It has become an extension of my Heima project while allowing me to dive deeper into the culture.
J: What drives you to make work, what makes you tick as a photographer?
R: I’m not entirely sure it is photography that drives me as much as it is my passion to learn about others. I believe in people and their ability to help others be the best version of themselves. I love the feeling of knowing I am in a moment that is changing my life. I often find that happens when I use my camera as a tool to engage in conversation with others. I am driven to make work because I believe it serves a purpose greater then myself. It is a way to have a conversation with an audience that you don’t have the opportunity to physically speak to. My goal is to share the stories of others to show the ways in which we relate in this experience of life. It will always be important for me to take the time to see myself in another.
Rhombie with her friend, Josh. © Rhombie Sandoval
Written by Amy Moffat
March 22nd 2017
© Rhombie Sandoval
J: What's been your most treasured experience in Iceland so far?
R: My most treasured experience in Iceland so far has been meeting Josh. I was assigned to photograph a farm that Josh was working at. My room was next to his in the Guesthouse so we spent the first night exchanging stories. I immediately felt this fire for his passion about life that I had never felt before. When I left the farm I wasn’t sure I would see him again but now he is part of my team, working alongside me until I fly back to the states. Words can’t describe how much he means to me. I want nothing but the best for him. Sometimes life gives you exactly what you need when you least expect it.
J: How do you find the art communities you've come across in comparison to the one back home in California?
R: After graduating from Art Center I felt pretty lost, it wasn’t until I started using my camera to chase my own happiness that I began to find the community I want to be a part of. It has often been described to me as finding your own tribe. I want my tribe to consist of the go-getters, the fearless, those who dream while awake, they inspire and are inspired by others, and they chase what they believe in. You find these people when you step out of your comfort zone.
J: What's next for you?
R: I will be returning to the states for an artist residency in Colorado. I plan to dive further into my interest in farming by photographing farmers in the town of Paoina. I will also be working on building up a platform to help share the portraits and stories of other photographers who focus on portraiture. I believe in the power of listening and storytelling. My goal is to work with others to combine the two. After my residency I will be working with Austurbrú continuing on our theme of thinking outside the circle.
© Rhombie Sandoval