Iceland is a country full of incredible landscapes that will delight any photography lover. And if the camera is your thing but creating itineraries is really not, joining a photo tour in Iceland may be the most ideal way to discover the best places throughout the country.
With the introduction of social media, it’s no longer just about visiting a place. Now all of your friends and followers want top-quality proof of your adventures. And with the improvement of digital cameras and phone cameras, everybody can snap high-definition photos. Taking that perfect picture has become intertwined with the adventure itself. And now we can all be travel photographers, thanks to the introduction of photo tours in Iceland.
Photo Tours and Workshops in Iceland
Fancy learning more about Iceland travel photography? Now you can combine a tour of the country’s best spots with a workshop on how to capture them. There are multi-day excursions available that teach you the ways of Iceland landscape photography, learning from experienced professionals.
Of course, one thing that visitors to the country most want to photograph is the Icelandic northern lights. There are autumn tours that make aurora hunting a priority, so each evening you’ll be chasing them down.
Of course, the northern lights can never be guaranteed. But what you can be sure of is a visit to some of Iceland’s most famous photo locations. And along the way, your guides will be giving you tips and advice on how to run an Iceland photoshoot.
The tour lengths range from three days to two weeks, each designed to explore in-depth a selected area. Depending on what season you visit Iceland, your experience will be unique, as snow and ice drastically alter the landscape. We know that choosing the best time to visit Iceland can be complicated. Fortunately, there are companies that operate tours year-round and adapt them to changing weather.
Top Rated Photo Tours in Iceland
The southern coast of Iceland is regarded by many as having the best photo opportunities in the country. With Iceland's Ring Road (Route 1) running all the way around the coast, it’s easy to reach the famous landmarks. These places, such Seljalandsfoss waterfall, and Reynisfjara, one of the best black sand beaches in Iceland, are visited by most tours.
One company that stands out is Phototours.is, run by a local couple. They specialize in intimate tours with small group sizes and visiting lesser-known spots, as well as popular places. The Golden Circle is of course a must-see, and the company’s three-day Photo Safari to South Iceland covers the gem. This tour costs ISK 195.000 (USD 1469) per person for double occupancy.
A more hardcore tour on offer is the 11-day Ultimate Iceland's Highlands Adventure Photo Tour. This takes you deep into the center of the country, the highlands, where the landscape is mostly untouched. There’s even an optional extra of a photographic flight (weather permitting). It’s worth mentioning that venturing into the highlands will involve trekking on rocky terrain and potentially encountering harsh weather.
Be prepared to get a little uncomfortable in the service of capturing a great photo. This tour is priced at ISK 925.000 (USD 6,973) per person for double occupancy, and Phototours.is tours include accommodation, meals, and transport. They also take private tours which can be tailored to your liking.
Another company that specializes in multi-day workshops is Iceland Photo Tours. Their tours cater to all ability levels and they provide post-processing video tutorials. They offer a two-week winter tour which takes you all around Iceland’s ring road, stopping at the best spots. This covers you from the moment you arrive in Keflavík International Airport to your day of departure. A full fourteen days visiting Iceland’s majestic waterfalls, glaciers, lava fields, and volcanoes, all topped by crisp snow. This tour is priced at 6,990 USD.
Photography equipment for Iceland
First of all, you’ll need a camera. Regarding specific lenses and other accessories, the tour company will inform you what to bring when you book. A tripod will be handy, especially from autumn to spring, when strong winds are common in Iceland. And no matter the season, pack warm, waterproof clothing.
Since landscape photography is an outdoor activity, dress so that you’re protected from the elements. Wear a solid pair of hiking boots, because almost all of Iceland’s landscape is sharp lava rock. Snow and freezing or below temperatures are common in the winter here. Even in the summer, Iceland doesn’t get that warm; the average July temperature in the south is around 12°C. Always have gloves, a hat and a waterproof coat with you.
Additionally, when traveling around Iceland you’re never far from a hot spring. So that you’re always ready to take a dip, bring a towel and swimming costume along.In summer, we experience nearly 24 hours of daylight, so sunglasses are a must. In winter the opposite is the case, so bring an electric torch.
Best Photography Locations in Iceland
As well as the famous south coast spots previously mentioned, there are many others frequented by photographers. Kirkjufell, located in the Snæfellsnes peninsula north-west of the capital, is the most-photographed mountain in Iceland. You may recognize it from the popular series Game of Thrones.
The country’s glaciers are also well worth getting a shot of the biggest ones that are protected within our national parks. Vatnajökull National Park contains the largest glacier in the country, which also shares the name of the largest national park. There is much to photograph within this park, including Jökulsárlón Lagoon, directly fed by the waters of a nearby glacier. Found next to this lagoon is Diamond Beach, which consists of black sand covered with pieces of glacial ice.
In the north-west of the country, you have the Westfjords, which is one of the least visited areas by tourists. This means less competition for photo spots and fewer vehicles in shots. One of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, Dynjandi is found within Iceland's Westfjords and is loved by photographers.
Traveling along the north coast brings you to Lake Mývatn, a volcanic lake renowned for its beauty. Mývatn is also known as the northern lights capital of Iceland. Heading into the interior will bring you to Landmannalaugar, the site of Iceland’s multi-colored rhyolite mountains. This is an area worth hiking around to explore.
Then we have the capital region. Some beautiful shots can be taken from Reykjavík, including of Esja, the mountain range 10km north of the capital. Why not hike up Esja and take a picture of the city below from the top?
Photographing Iceland Wildlife
Let’s not forget Iceland’s fauna. This country has the largest population of atlantic puffins on earth; around 60% of the world’s puffins come here to breed. These unique-looking birds are not frightened of humans and so are happy to stand and pose for pictures. Then there are the ravens; super-intelligent, black-feathered birds who have an important role in Norse mythology. They can be spotted easily in urban areas around the country in winter, resting on rooftops or lampposts. Seals frequent Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and often pop their heads up to see what the humans are up to. Finally, with a bit of luck you can spot up a dozen different species of whales in Iceland, as they make the island's coastlines their home at certain times of the year, feeding on the abundant fish.
Capture your memories of Iceland so you can look back on them years into the future. See the land of ice and fire through the lens of a camera on a photo tour. Let the local experts guide to you to the best stops, best angles, and best lighting. Get the perfect picture of the phenomenon that has fascinated humans for centuries: the aurora borealis.
Finally, if you're considering going on a self-drive photography tour instead of joining a guided tour, take a look at our top Iceland photography spots and rent a 4x4 in Reykjavik or Keflavik to make sure nothing can stop you. In any case, always remember to protect Iceland’s natural beauty by taking nothing but photos and leaving nothing but footprints. And don’t forget those hashtags.
Samuel Hogarth, Reykjavik Cars.