Iceland ranks as one of the best countries in the world for engaging in the art of photography. Cairn Travels will host a photography workshop in Iceland in July 2021.
Every photographer dreams about capturing phenomenal waterfalls, mountain scenes, rock formations, red- sand beaches, puffins, and quaint villages with adorable churches. Unassuming Iceland has it all. In the summer, the arctic sky skims along the horizon, creating an extended sunset that eventually fades seamlessly into a sunrise. During these beautiful golden hours, you have ample time to capture the perfect shot, without rushing to find it before the skies darken.
In July 2021, Cairn Travels will escort a small group of eight individuals alongside Chris Davis, a professional photographer with 30-plus years of experience behind the lens. No matter your photo skill level, Chris will help enhance your proficiency and artistry in a thoughtful and nurturing learning environment.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the Westfjords offers some of the most dramatic and stunning landscapes that Iceland has to offer. While the ring road scenery is beautiful, our photography workshop tour strays from the main road as our small group enters one of the country’s most spectacular and awe-inspiring regions.
Day 1: Upon arrival at Keflavik airport, a shuttle will whisk you directly to our first-class hotel, located forty minutes to the north in Reykjavik. Cairn Travels will be there to meet and check you into your room. Spend the afternoon on your own exploring the charming streets of Reykjavik, two minutes walking distance from the hotel. Tomorrow morning, we begin our workshop.
Day 2: After breakfast, two spacious vans will be packed with luggage & photography equipment as we journey to the magical Snæfellsnes peninsula. Believed by many to be one of Earth’s seven major energy centers, the Snæfellsjökull glacier can be seen in the distance while driving the peninsula. You will have an opportunity to photograph amazing landscape, waterfalls, Icelandic ponies and sheep. Lots of sheep.
For the next two evenings, the bright, simply decorated rooms of our lodging provide views of Iceland’s rugged landscape. Each evening, dinner is prepared with fresh local ingredients. A geothermal pool ($8 entrance fee) with naturally carbonated water, excellent for skin, is across the street. The large swimming pool and two smaller hot tubs have fantastic vistas of the mountains behind the guesthouse, making for a perfect spot to practice catching the golden light of the evening.
The ever-changing weather in Iceland is part of what makes photographing it so special. The locals have a saying: ‘”If you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait five minutes.” The same can be said for the photography conditions. One moment, you may be capturing sheer sea cliffs beneath a dark sky, making the subject ominous and imposing. In the next moment, the same cliffs may be basking in sunlight, looking magnificent and inviting. Chris will demonstrate how to capture your subject in the most compelling way, with careful lens selection and camera placement.
Day 3: After breakfast, on the way to the former fishing village of Arnarstapi, we’ll stop in Budir for the opportunity to photograph an iconic, minimalist church that’s been painted a dramatic black.
In Arnarstapi, take the path to a big stone sculpture of Bárður Snæfellsás. Nearby is a viewpoint great for us to set up cameras. After, we’ll grab a cup of coffee in one of the coffeehouses nearby. The walk in Arnarstapi offers breathtaking views of both cliff formations by the sea and Stapafell volcano mountain in the background.
Next we’ll visit Kirkjufellsfoss, one of the most scenic settings in the world.Kirkjufell mountain looks as though someone pulled and twisted the earth upward toward the sky. In the foreground we see the stunningly clear Kirkjufellsfoss waterfalls. The pairing attracts landscape photographers from far and wide. Dependent upon weather, we may visit once in the day and drive back again after dinner for some of that magical evening Iceland light.
We’ll go into the nearby fishing town of Grundarfjörður as well, stopping to capture the idyllic scenery.
Day 4: After breakfast, a 40-minute drive takes us to the ferry terminal, in route to the Westfjords. Departure time is 9am for a 2.5 hour trip to Brjanslaekur. Sit back, relax and enjoy scenery from an all new perspective. Lunch is available for purchase on the ferry.
Exit the ferry at Brjánslækur. First stop is the astonishing Dynjandi Waterfall. Like a seven-layer cake, this waterfall comprises seven separate falls, tumbling one to the next. The Icelandic term dynjandi means thunderous or resounding, and you will understand why these falls bear that name. Chris will provide strategies on how to best capture this magnificent vista.
While driving through the Westfjords, you’ll notice the many fjords, impressive cliffs, colorful beaches, high mountains with steep slopes, rivers, mountain passes with rolling mountains, waterfalls, birdlife and geothermal pools. The landscape of the Westfjords is so remarkable that people sometimes describe it as driving through a painting. There will be many opportunities to sharpen our landscape photography skills as Chris leads.
The lodging for the next two nights is at a family-operated hotel with free Wi-Fi and an on-site restaurant and bar. A three-course dinner menu of local produce is available along with a one-of-a-kind view. (The hotel is the tiny speck at the base of the fjord in the photo below.)
Day 5: After breakfast, the the largest sea bird cliffs in Europe await us. Experience countless puffins, cormorants, kittiwakes and the majestic white tailed eagle soaring amongst the majestic Latrabjarg steep cliffs. Opportunities for great bird photography are endless. To be able to move in so close without upsetting the birds at Latrabjarg is one of the most incredible gifts a photographer can receive. Chris will show us how to dramatically reduce the inherent contrast of the birds’ coloring to produce an image with significant amounts of detail.
Day 6: After an early breakfast, depart for the noon ferry. Instead of taking the ferry back to Snaefellsnes, we will detour and spend the evening on the famous Flatey Island. Photographers around the world dream of photographing Flatey Island so savor the unique ambience of the island! Cozy and welcoming accommodations combined with excellent food and a view over the village awaits you.
Of the 3,000 islets in Breidafjordur Bay, Flatey is the only one that’s inhabited. Historic timber homes in crisp colors dot the landscape. Our inn has an easy-going maritime vibe. Look forward to dining on seafood caught in the surrounding waters of the bay.
Day 7: After a delicious buffet breakfast, we’ll take some time to shoot our final photographs of the island. The ferry will pick us up early afternoon and deliver us to Snaefellsnes. The drive back to the hotel in Reykjavik (the same hotel as the first night) is two hours from the ferry terminal.
Day 8: It’s time to say good bye to Iceland. You will be shuttled or driven to the airport for the return flight home. Departures are always a little sad and wistful, but you’ll be leaving with your very own photographic journal of an unforgettable experience — one you can revisit as often as you like in the comfort of home.
ABOUT CHRIS DAVIS
Chris knew his calling at the tender age of 13, pouring himself into a middle-school photography class. Later he studied at the acclaimed Portfolio Center in Atlanta, learning the elusive art and science of light. Invited back to the school to teach, Chris spent some of his most satisfying years sharing his passion and knowledge with enthusiastic students. Some of the finest advertising and photography publications have recognized his commercial work. Today Chris lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he photographs a variety of subjects, from humans at work and at play to landscapes for travel clients.