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Alex Michael Green Svansson


Behind the Shot

In our daily lives, we would never drive our extremely expensive vehicle through a raging near-frozen river. So what compels us to take risks on vacation, or away from our day-to-day grind, that we would normally never take?

Cognitive neuroscientist TaliSharot researched the phenomenon called "optimism bias"—the tendency to underestimate the likelihood of a negative event. She cites this as the main reason people take risks on vacation that they normally would not take. She writes that "optimism bias causes us to believe that we are luckier and less likely to experience negative events than the average person." Further, her research shows that warnings do little to deter people from taking unnecessary risks. Using an MRI, she showed that brains responded better to desirable information and failed at "integrating bad news about the future."

Our brains are literally hardwired to optimism.

Alex vividly recalls the day he shot this photograph:"We were in the Iceland highlands on the way to Landmannalaugar. A couple of creators from Los Angeles were visiting. My friend Viking (yes, that’s his real name) was showing them around and this was near the end of the trip. We’d seen some crazy things, done some crazy stuff, and had a great time overall. Crossing this last river, we were feeling pretty confident in ourselves and the car."

"We wanted to get a photo of the car and the mountain and the river. The riverside had a gentle slope, but suddenly the side dropped 90 degrees right under us. The water was up to the passenger side window. The driver panicked and gunned it, which you’re never supposed to do, but the car got out safely. We were optimistic, and it all worked out."