Ragnar Axelsson

Ragnar Axelsson. Member of the NCU since 2022. Based in Reykjavik, Iceland

Member of the NCU since 2022
Based in Reykjavik, Iceland


Ragnar Guðni Axelsson, also known as RAX was born in 1958 in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland.
He borrowed his first Leica from his father, when he was ten years old. When he was 18, he became a photographer for the Icelandic Morgunbladid newspaper, and since then has been documenting nature and the lives of the people in the North.
1976-2020 — A photojournalist at Morgunbladid, Ragnar has also worked on freelance assignments in Latvia, Lithuania, Mozambique, South Africa, China and Ukraine. His photographs have been featured in LIFE, Newsweek, Stern, GEO, National Geographic, Time, Le Figaro, La Vanguardia, and Polka, and have been exhibited widely.
For over 40 years, Ragnar has been photographing the people, animals and landscape of the most remote regions of the Arctic. He has done work and stories for various agencies and magazines, shooting in Iceland, the Faroes, Greenland, Indonesia, Scandinavia, and Siberia.
Ragnar is currently working on a three-year project documenting people’s lives in all eight countries of the Arctic. At this pivotal time, as climate change irrevocably disrupts the physical and traditional realities of their world, he is bearing witness to the immediate and direct threat that global warming poses to their survival.
Since 2022 — member of the Noga Creative Union (NCU).

​​Awards & Honors

2023 — Shortlisted for the Prix Pictet Awards, Cicle Human 2022.
2020 — Shortlisted for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA).
2016 — Icelandic Literary Prize for non-fiction, book Andlit Nordursins (English edition, Faces of The North).
2003 — Grand Prix at the Festival International de la Photo de Mer, Vannes, France.
2001 — Honourable Mention at the Oskar Barnack Award (Leica).
The annual Icelandic Photojournalists Awards: More than twenty awards, including Photographer of the Year (four times) and Documentary Story of the Year (six times) and Iceland’s highest honour, the Order of the Falcon, Knight’s Cross, for sitt arbeid i Arktis.


2023 — Where the World is Melting, Deichtorhallen German House of Photography, Hamburg, Germany.
2022 Where the World is Melting, PHOXXI — Temporäres Haus der Photographie, Hamburg, Germany.
2022 — Arctic Heroes — Where the world is melting, Leica Galerie Zingst, Germany.
2022 — Where the World is Melting, Kunstfoyer Versicherungskammer Kulturstiftung, Munich, Germany.
2021 — Where the World is MeltingReykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavík, Iceland.
2018 Glacier, Ásmundarsalur, Reykjavík, Iceland.
2010 — The Athy Heritage Centre-Museum and 10th Anniversary Shackleton School, Ireland.
2008 — Galerie Argus fotokunst, Berlin, Germany.
2007 — Faces of the North, Fnac, Milan, Italy.
2007 — Faces of the North, Musée de la Cohue, Vannes, France.
2005 — Faces of the North, Paris Photo 2005, Louvre, Paris, France.
2005 — Faces of the North, Austurvellir, Reykjavík, Iceland.
2005 — Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung, Berlin, Germany.
2004 — Niedersächsischen Staats und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, Germany.
2004 — Fnac Italie 2, Paris, France.
2004 — Altonaer Museum (Norddeutsches Landesmuseum), Hamburg, Germany.
2004 — Galerie Argus fotokunst, Berlin, Germany.
2003 — Festival International de la Photo de Mer, Vannes, France.
2003 — Festival della Val d’Orcia, Italy.
2002 — Un Mondo ai Confini del Mondo, ClicArt, Museo Zucchi Collection, Milan, Italy.
2002 — Faces and Figures: Contemporary Scandinavian Photography, Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee.
2001 — Faces and Figures: Contemporary Scandinavian Photography, Scandinavia House, New York, USA.
2001 — Visa pour l’Image: Festival International du Photojournalisme; screening of North Atlantic Project, d’Arles, France.
2000 — Visa pour l’Image: Festival International du Photojournalisme; screening of North Atlantic Project, Perpignan, France.
1992 — Tender is the North, visual arts from Scandinavia, Barbican Arts Centre, London, United Kingdom.
1990 — The Reykjavik Municipal Museum, Reykjavík, Iceland.


2021  Where the World is Melting, Kehrer Verlag, deu./eng., ISBN 978-3-96900-064-9, Heidelberg, Germany.
2020 — Arctic Heroes, Kehrer Verlag, eng., ISBN 978-3-96900-007-6, Heidelberg, Germany.
2018 — Glacier, Qerndu, eng., Reykjavik, Iceland. English-language version of Jökull.
2016 — Faces of the North: Iceland, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Crymogea, eng., Reykjavik, Iceland.
2010 — Hunters of the North, Crymogea, eng., ISBN 978-0-9555255-2-0, Reykjavik, Iceland.
2010 — Last Days of the Arctic, Polarworld, London, UK.
2010 — Veiðimenn norðursins, Crymogea, isl., ISBN 978-9935420039, Reykjavik, Iceland.
2005 — Die Seele des Nordens. Island, Färöer, Grönland, Mál og menning, deu., ISBN 9979-3-2561-5, ISBN 9979-3-2594-1, Reykjavik, Iceland.
2005 — Visages du Nord: Islande, Féroé, Groenland, Mál og menning, fra., ISBN 9979-3-2593-3, Reykjavik, Iceland.
2005 — Faces of the North: Iceland, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Mál og menning, eng., ISBN 9979-3-2592-5, Reykjavik, Iceland.
2004 — Andlit Norðursins: Ísland, Færeyjar, Grænland, Mál og menning, isl., ISBN 9979-3-2561-5, Reykjavik, Iceland.
2003 — Ólafsson, Guðmundur Páll. Um víðerni Snæfells, Mál og menning, isl., ISBN 9979-3-2421-X, Reykjavik, Iceland.
1991 — Reykjavik, Hagall, isl./eng., ISBN 9979-816-00-7, Reykjavik, Iceland.
1989 — The Golden Circle, Iceland Review, isl., Reykjavik, Iceland.