The Herring Era in photography

Numerous photographers contributed their documentation of the piers and herring towns of the 20th century: the bustling commercial life of the salting stations or the complexities of the herring factories. It was the rare photographer that provided a glimpse of life on board the herring boats or in the fisheries themselves. Photographs by, and of, these men and women provide very important insight into the herring industry and are valuable glimpses of a world now lost.

Bjarni Þorsteinsson (1861-1938) was a composer and priest in Siglufjörður. Bjarni also pursued an interest in photography. The story goes that he bought his first camera while on a trip in Denmark in 1899. His earliest images are likely from 1904-1905. His photographs are preserved at the Herring Era Museum Museum and the Icelandic Museum of Photography. The originals are not accessable to the public, but further information can be gathered from museum staff:

Photo: Bjarni Þorsteinsson

Axel Friðbjarnarson (1896-1921) ran a photo studio in Siglufjörður from 1918-1920, and served as a valuer of herring. Unfortunately, his albums and film collections are lost.

Vigfús Sigurgeirsson (1900-1984) was a photographer based primarily in Reykjavík though he traveled throughout the country taking photographs. He came to Siglufjörður in 1925 and 1938 and took a number of well known images. Many of these images can be seen at the Herring Era Museum, but the main collection of his glass plates and films are preserved in the collection of the National Museum of Iceland. Information:

Einar Kristjánsson (1898-1960) was a chemist in Siglufjörður and Akureyri. He took a large number of photographs in Siglufjörður from 1930 to 1948. There are approximately 3000 of his images preserved at the National Museum of Iceland.

Photo: Kristfinnur Guðjónsson

Kristfinnur Guðjónsson (1896-1974) worked as a professional photographer in Siglufjörður from 1935 to 1960. A wonderful film and a collection of over 3.000 of his photographs are preserved in Siglufjörður's Photography Museum:

Björn Björnsson (1889-1977) trader in Norðfjörður. Björn was an amateur photographer who systematically documented the herring piers of Norðfjörður. His images are preserved in the Archives of Norðfjörður.See:

Photo: Steingrímur Kristinsson

Steingrímur Kristinsson (1934 -) worked a variety of jobs at sea and ashore, and was an enthusiast of photography. He has taken an enormous number of photographs of workers and the daily life of the town for decades, starting in 1959. He also worked at the herring export ship Haförninn and at Raufarhöfn, Seyðisfjörður and Reyðarfjörður. A great collection of his photographs are preserved in the Photography Museum of Siglufjörður: as well as at the Herring Museum.

Þorsteinn Jósepsson (1907-1967) was a well-known journalist, writer and photographer. He took a number of photographs of his travels around the country. Of particular interest are images made during a visit to Siglufjörður in 1959. His works are preserved in the National Museum of Iceland's collections. Information:

Sigurður B. Jóhannesson (1933 -) was a school teacher. His photographs from 1953-1962 at Raufarhöfn are extremely significant in historical terms, as are images he shot in Siglufjörður in 1960. You can see a small selection of his photographs at:

Photo: Haukur Helgason

Haukur Helgason

(1933 -) from Hafnarfjörður was a young man during the herring years. He worked as a herring fisherman for two or three summers in the late fifties. He had a good camera and documeted the ​​life on board in a unique way. Haukur has photographed in Dalvík, Raufarhöfn and Siglufjörður. His website is:
Haukur held an exhibition of his photos from Siglufjörður in 1999, here at the Herring Era Museum.

Snorri Snorrason
(1931 - 2012) was a pilot of international flights. Alongside this work, he was a great lover of photography. His collection of images include vessels and important herring era images of Siglufjörður in 1960. Several of his images are on display at the Herring Era Museum. See:

Photo: Hannes Baldvinsson

Hannes Baldvinsson

(1931-) was a herring valuer. He photographed many of the herring piers of Siglufjörður between 1957-1965. He has a keen eye for his subject. An exhibition of his works was held at the Grána loft in the summer of 2007 before traveling to various Maritime Museums around Iceland for two years. The exhibition is currently stored at the Herring Era Museum.

Ólafur Ragnarsson (1945-2008) was a publisher and took a lot of photographs of the herring years in Siglufjörður between 1958-1965. His pictures are privately owned.

Júlíus Júlíusson (1927-2004) was a teacher in Siglufjörður and an amateur photographer. His collection mainly features scenes from the herring years.

Jón Dýrfjörð
(1931-) is a mechanic in Siglufjörður. As a young child, Jón took photographs of what interested him in his environment. He has also amassed a large collection of photographs of industrial and urban life in Siglufjörður over the years.