‘It looks like a river, but it’s actually the sea’: Jessica Auer’s best phone picture

re-pandemic, Canadian Jessica Auer split her time between Montreal and east Iceland. She was living in the former when the city announced its first lockdown in March 2020 and so, not knowing what lay ahead, she and her boyfriend, Zuhaitz, returned to Iceland. It’s here that their kitchen window faces a fjord 25km long and 1km wide. “It appears like a really wide river, but it’s actually the sea,” Auer says. “A kilometre across, or a little less, sits this mountain. It changes constantly with the seasons and the light. This photograph was taken at sunset.”

The mirror-image binoculars on each side of the sill are left out for guests, who immediately gravitate towards them when visiting. “The window has such a sublime view. The mountain is usually peaceful, but we’ve seen backcountry skiers on it occasionally. On the water, ships pass by, the birdlife is varied and porpoise appear most weeks,” Auer says. “Once a year, if we’re lucky, we see humpback whales.”

Back in Iceland, the couple began isolation. Auer learned how to use Zoom, while continuing to work remotely for her teaching job in Montreal, and took up yoga.

“I took this photo spontaneously on my iPhone 6 that first week in confinement, as Zuhaitz looked out. There is no editing; it didn’t need it. I wasn’t consciously trying to encapsulate the experience, but it’s become more special to me as the years have passed. It was a beautiful moment at a time that was very difficult, and became more difficult in the years that were to come. I look back at this image warmly.”

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