Iceland guild phototours 2017

Join us for a "full circle" tour of Iceland in September 2017.

This will be a memorable and rewarding photography trip in one of the most stunning and dramatic landscapes in the world. 10 days and 9 nights, 15th - 24th September, for €3781, with lots of opportunity to develop both skills and artistry and to interact with like-minded photographers.

Guild members at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon ©Lesley Chalmers

Our Icelandic expeditions are arranged for members of the Guild of Photographers to be available at prices well below those typical for comparable photography trips to the Land of Ice and Fire.

We'll share unforgettable experiences in an amazing landscape that is in the World Top 10 for many photographers. We want you to be inspired and to boost your creativity, alongside developing and improving your image-making and post-processing skills. Guild events are always special, and this will be no exception, if a bit more cold and wet than usual. (Well, maybe a LOT more cold and wet!)

Lesley Chalmers getting happily drenched at Skógafoss ©Anna Kunst

We’ll be exploring, looking for light, talking photography, bouncing off and learning from each other while having fun and capturing some great images on the way. Advice and troubleshooting is there if you need it, but this isn't an instructive workshop where you're pushed into 'must-dos'. It's a shared interactive experience where we can all learn from, experiment with, and help each other, whether we're new to landscape photography or it's been a passion for years. That's the way the Guild community works :-) You are likely to find others keen to know more about your thoughts and methods - we all do and see things differently.

Northern Lights at Geysir 2016 ©Chris Nesbit

Our first trip to Iceland in March 2016 was a great success (as you'll see from the reviews further down the page), joined by a range of photographers, some with businesses, some enthusiasts with other priorities to juggle. Some specialised in people photography, such as portraits, events and weddings, and one heads up a successful world-wide film business. There was also a military and humanitarian photographer, a high-end interiors photographer, and others involved in aviation images and retouching for the family business respectively. What we all shared was a passion for image-making and a fascination with Iceland.

Stitched 7-image panorama Iceland 2016 ©Ben Cremin
Strokkur spout ©Ben Cremin and Gulfoss Falls ©Lesley Chalmers
'Diamond' beach at Joküskarlon.

In September 2017 we'll be doing the "full circle" - round the island, clockwise. This builds on last year's west-east tour, but - never fear! - if you didn't come with us last year you'll still experience those stunning landscapes as we come back south and make our way west to Reykjavik. That will include Vik and Cape Dyrhólaey; prehistoric sea stacks, white surf on black sand, basalt cliffs, and a surging, wicked sea. There will also be ancient churches and more waterfalls, not least Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. We'll see miles of lava fields, volcanoes and glaciers and, before we reach the city again, steaming hillsides, geysers and more waterfalls.

The waterfalls can be pretty big.

The Full Circle will take us initially right up to Sauðárkrókur on the less-visited northern coast, where we can wave across the water to Greenland. Then, via Góðafoss, the stupendous Waterfall of the Gods, to Mývatn with its lake and thousands of birds, surrounded by an otherworldly landscape of spluttering mud pools, steaming lava fields and geothermal caves. The most powerful waterfall in the Europe, Dettifoss, is in the vicinity; it's so strong, and you can get so close, that you can feel it in your body. We'll see a lot of the wild sea when we negotiate the twists and turns of the Atlantic coastline from Egilsstaðir - close to Seyðisfjörður, where the tv series 'Trapped' was filmed - to Höfn with its extraordinary black sand dunes, then onwards to explore the south east.

Here be pirates: the east coast

We'll stay near Jökulsárlón for a couple of days - the scene there constantly changes as icebergs, some huge, calve from the glacier and travel through the lagoon and out to sea, sometimes with dozens of seals resting on their ledges. The journey back to the city along the south coast, as above, is stunning, with Vik, Kirkjufjara and Cape Dyrhólaey all on the agenda.

View of Kirkjufjara from Cape Dyrhólaey ©Lesley Chalmers

We'll visit huge cliffs populated by thousands of birds, and see historic churches and lighthouses. We may see the fishermen's catch coming into tiny harbours, pass shipwrecks mangled by the ferocious seas, and we'll certainly get sprayed by amazing waterfalls.

Iceland 2016

Our full circle trip will be over 10 intense days from 15th September, a good time for possible sightings of the Northern Lights. This is wonderful when it happens, but can't be guaranteed - cloud, weather and location all have a bearing. We were delighted to see them on the last trip - as the waiter put the puddings on the dinner table he asked whether we'd noticed the lights outside. We all leapt up and ran! Just as well it was a cold pudding that waited till we got back.

Northern Lights: ©Chris Nesbit. Selfie (l), view from hotel (r)

We’ll experience Iceland in a variety of weather conditions, giving us the opportunity to photograph extreme landscapes in ever-changing light and colour. Even in winter, Iceland is not always fully covered in snow, and due to the low sun and varied weather conditions, the island has exceptionally beautiful light and contrast, giving us great variety in our photographs.

Snaefellsness Peninsula March 2016: ©Lesley Chalmers

MEALS All included, from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on the final day.

ACCOMMODATION We’ll stay in comfortable hotels and guest houses, 3/4 stars or thereabouts, with good service and good hearty food, sharing double or twin rooms. Some are also farms. Single occupancy can be arranged subject to availability and for a supplement.

TRANSPORTATION AND GUIDING Sigurbergur (Siggi) Árnason is our Icelandic driver/guide. Siggi has an extensive knowledge of the island and its history; a thorough knowledge and a particular 'eye' for film and photography locations, and is a photographer himself. He's guided some of the greats of the photography and movie (and we're talking Hollywood here) world, including Elia Locardi in the making of his hugely successful 'Photographing the World' course for F-Stoppers. Siggi had just finished working with Ken Kaminesky and Patrick Di Fruscia when we met for our 2016 tour, and coincidentally we were all in the same hotel just a few days later - it was good to talk with them and their team. They'd stayed on to shoot some video nearby for ViewBug and Fujifilm.

Sigurbergur (Siggi) Árnason. ©Nick Miners (l) ©Helen Langridge (r)

Here's an entertaining 'making of' video for one of Elia Locardi's landscape tutorials, featuring Siggi. Here they visit an ice cave, and later Siggi gives advice on the inspiration we can get from Icelandic vodka over 1000 year old ice :-)

We'll have a comfortable but rugged vehicle that can cope with the terrain and the weather. Siggi uses vehicles that are really spacious, so that everyone has a double seat and their own window, and with extra seats on top of that - plenty of room for personal stuff and camera equipment. The journey is fun and sociable too, not just the stops.

On the road

PHOTOGRAPHY The tour will be led again by Guild Panel Member Lesley Chalmers, whose day-to-day business is commercial photography, but who loves landscape and travel imagery. Lesley is a mentor and judge with the Guild, and will be happy to help with any photography and post-processing issues if needed.

Two heads are sometimes better than one

There will be a couple of evening presentations and we may have a go at night-time light-painting, if aurora-hunting allows. Given that the weather is unpredictable, if we do get days/part-days where we’re restricted by the weather from photographing outside, we can use the time to talk photography - possibly in a geothermal pool, and to look at images - probably not in a pool.

Light painting in Iceland 2016 ©Ben Cremin

ITINERARIES Our tours have to be flexible, and so must we. With weather and road conditions such a big factor there is no guarantee we’ll cover all the places listed on the itinerary. On the other hand, we may find some unscheduled and unexpected pleasures, too, perhaps Icelandic horses or reindeer, rainbows or huge waves. If we can visit an ice cave in February, we will - that too depends on the weather. They are by their nature temporary, usually occurring near the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Some places take longer to photograph than others, and whether we have wonderful or awful light will be an important influence. As our Icelandic hosts point out, the clue is in the name: ICEland.

Icelandic horses Snaefellsness 2016: ©Lesley Chalmers

Iceland has become popular in the last couple of years, with many people taking advantage of special offers offering a couple of days in Reykjavik with day or half-day bus trips to the Blue Lagoon and the busy main tourist attractions nearby in the Golden Circle. If you've tried one of those and it's stimulated your appetite to see more of this wildly beautiful place, we'll get you out of the city, off the tourist trail and you and your camera immersed in Iceland. Our phototours are intensive and rewarding, tailored especially for photographers to spark creativity and get the max from their experience on many levels.

Sea stacks off Kirkjufjara's cliffs of basalt columns ©Mark Rawlings

EXTRA NIGHTS IN REYKJAVIK If you haven't been to Iceland before, or would like another look at the sights and quirks of Reykjavik, from the majesty of Hallgrímskirkja to the stunning Harpa concert hall, built right on the edge of the sea with mountains behind, you might elect to arrange an early flight or come the day before. If you’d like to add a day or two at the start or end of your tour, we can help. We also offer a free optional city photowalk from 11am to 4pm on Day 1 of both tours. We'll provide the route for your phone so you can pick it up anywhere. We’ll meet later that day for dinner to introduce ourselves and talk though the itinerary. On the morning of Day 2 we leave the city.

Reykjavik March 2016

FITNESS These won’t be arduous tours involving long treks or tough climbs, but we will be outside in the natural landscape, often by water, sometimes on clifftops. We are likely to experience cold, wet weather, with strong winds and sometimes limited visibility. Common sense and vigilance will be as necessary as sturdy and waterproof footwear and clothing.

Walking behind Seljalandfoss 2016: ©Mark Rawlings

GUILD OF PHOTOGRAPHERS The Guild of Photographers is an association for all individuals committed to the craft and art of photography. It offers a great network, fosters involvement in a friendly community, and is a source of top support, insurance, legal protection, extensive discounts and much more. Non-members of the Guild are welcome to join the tour on payment of a supplement. Alternatively, join us as a member - we’d love to have you and will arrange a discounted first year’s membership. Click below for the Guild website and the public Facebook page. There are a number of private pages for members too - useful, interesting sociable and fun.

Mountains, frozen lake, happy yellow coach: Iceland 2016 ©Lesley Chalmers

September 10 days €3781. (Sterling equivalent June 12 2016 £2895). Single room supplement €650. Post Brexit the exchange rate has been unkind, both here and in Iceland - so we're looking with our Icelandic partners at how we can reduce these amounts. Watch this space :-)

PAYMENT Our costs in Iceland are charged to us in euros, so the tour costs have been expressed in euros. If too few people book to make the tour viable, it will be cancelled and your deposit returned in full. On the other hand, a waiting list will be maintained if demand exceeds the places available. To secure your place we just need a 10% deposit, payable by bank transfer. Contact Lesley at for an invoice and bank details.

What Iceland 2016 felt like for Anna ©Helen Langridge


📎“My experience with the Guild of Photographers in Iceland was the most wonderful and lasting I have had for a long time. Not just because Iceland is an out of this world experience (with good food!) but also because of the closeness and friendships made with the other members on the tour. We laughed, teased, helped each other, ate fab food, forgot about all our problems in the outside world. It was us, the mountains, lava fields, snow, glaciers, wild seas, glasses of wine and much laughter. I learned a lot about landscape photography from the experienced photographers with us, as well as about Iceland and even about myself. Our little yellow bus and expert tour guide Siggi were unforgettable and Lesley… well, what can I say, perfect. I could not recommend it highly enough”. Anna Kunst.

Anna at Svínafellsjökull March 2016 ©Mark Rawlings

📎“Travelling to Iceland is often a ‘bucket list’ aim for photographers. When the opportunity arose to join Lesley and the team on this Guild trip I knew I had to make it happen. Travelling with like-minded people who could all bounce ideas off each other, whilst sharing conversations and laughs over fabulous Icelandic meals was an memory I will never forget. Our guide was simply excellent, used by many pros, so you knew he would get you to the right places at the right times. The wonderful thing with a trip like this is that you end up with amazing photos, and amazing new friends. We all had different experiences of landscapes, and all had varying equipment – but we all chipped in together to ensure everyone got shots which they loved. My simple thought on returning was ‘I must come back ‘. The photographic opportunities are second to none, and expand any portfolio if thats what you are after. Within a week I had already sold 4 images to a customer in the USA.” Chris Nesbit.

Chris Nesbit in Iceland March 2016

📎Helen Langridge is an acclaimed filmmaker, whose work is seen world-wide. Helen saw Iceland through eyes that first looked to moving capture, a different perspective that inspired us all to have a go at it, with some hilarious results, as well as some pretty good ones (well, we thought so...). She said "The Guild Iceland trip was for me a first, both as a member and as a photographer. I'm a filmmaker so I gained some much needed confidence with a camera. Everyone in the group made me feel very welcome and all enjoyed my attempts to find moving subjects wherever we went. Overall a very enjoyable and memorable trip."

Helen Langridge in Iceland 2016

📎Nick Miners knows Iceland well, and his local knowledge was great to have in our group. He devised the route for our city photowalk on the first day, and his enthusiasm for both Iceland and photography was infectious. His verdict? “Every trip to Iceland is special, but some will stick in the memory for a lifetime. The Guild tour in March 2016 was pitched perfectly – well organised yet informal. We were all thrown together as relative strangers on the first day but we quickly became firm friends, which made the whole experience so much more enjoyable. Needless to say the star of the trip was the country itself, and for me personally it was especially pleasing to see everyone else fall head over heels for Iceland in the same way I did when I first visited 17 years ago. Our hilarious guide, Siggi, was fantastic, with a vast knowledge of not just the history and geography of Iceland, but also the very best places for photography. I think everyone learned something new about Iceland, their photography, and themselves, making the trip a huge success for everyone involved.” To see his blogpost on the tour, click below.

Nick Miners in Iceland 2016

📎Nicola Harvey is known for her fine art images of children and beautiful, emotive wedding photography. She came to Iceland in March 2016 and loved it: she said: "It's interesting to challenge yourself. I shoot people. Landscapes are new to me, but I found myself always searching for lines and composing accordingly, and I really enjoyed that. It was great fun indeed - thanks to my amazing, talented friends from The Guild for being awesome - and hilarious. Miss you all, see you in the Hebrides... or in Iceland next year." To see Nicola's fantastic Iceland gallery click the box below.

Nicola Harvey: Iceland 2016

📎"The best thing about the trip to Iceland was Siggi, who not only guides the big names in travel photography but also works with film companies worldwide. He knows locations we would never have found or even thought of going to. When the weather changed (which it does a lot) he always knew somewhere that would be photogenic. I'm sure all of us saw so much more and got so many more pictures because of Siggi's flexibility and local knowledge. The other big thing that made the trip so enjoyable was the people on it, a great mixed bunch of people at all levels of photography but all with a shared love of photography and wanting to shoot as much as possible. When I look back at the trip to Iceland I can remember the amazing scenery, the lovely hotels and fantastic food, but all my best memories of the trip were little moments with each of the people I was there with :-)" Mark Rawlings.

Mark gives Iceland the thumbs-up ©Lesley Chalmers

📎Ben Cremin specialises in landscape photography. BBC Radio Wiltshire asked him to talk about his trip to Iceland. He said " It was fantastic - really one of the best trips I've been on. The group of people I was with were pretty special. Everyone helped each other out, everyone had great experiences, and if you had any issues there was someone there to help - it was great learning experience. The whole place is such a contrast - it's hostile, and it's beautiful. I'm already planning to go back next September with the same group of photographers." He goes on to talk about some of his photographs, including the stunning stitched panorama of seven shots shown above, as well as what he saw, what he did, and how he felt - and the low cost of flights and the high cost of beer. To listen to the full 10 minute interview with Ben, click the panel below.

Ben Cremin in Iceland 2016

FACEBOOK: A private group has been set up for those who've been on or are interested in joining the tour: you're welcome to come along to see what's happening, share thoughts and information and ask questions: click below.

The little black church at Büdir, Snaefellsness 2016 ©Lesley Chalmers

Images are all by members of the March 2016 photo-tour - used with permission and with big thanks :-)

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