On Location
International Expeditions

Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice

with Stephen Wilkes

September 15 – 24, 2025

  • Package Price $8400.00
  • International Deposit $1500.00

Course Description

Floating alone where the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans meet, Iceland is defined by its rich cinematic landscape of waterfalls, volcanoes, geysers, black sand beaches, green spongy moss, ice caves, hot springs, and lava fields. Iceland impresses with its dramatic contrast of fire and ice and the Northern Lights curtain the night sky starting in the fall. 

While an enchanting land of geological extremes, Iceland’s otherworldly magic comes not so much from its abundance of natural splendors but from its people’s strong connection to their landscape, where it seems every rock has a thousand-year-old name and a legend to go along with it. Join renowned color photographer Stephen Wilkes as he returns to one of his favorite places to photograph on the planet. 

Our adventure begins as you touch down in Reykjavik and are transferred to our hotel in the city center. Depending on flight arrival times, we will arrange a visit to the beautiful Blue Lagoon en route from the airport to the hotel. The remainder of the day is yours to get settled, rest, and recover from jet lag, then meet Stephen and your fellow travelers before our welcome dinner at an excellent Reykjavik restaurant. 

Off we go the next morning to explore the Golden Circle, a renowned route that showcases three of Iceland’s most dazzling natural features: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. This full-day adventure has us marveling at geysers erupting into the sky and the raw power of waterfalls plunging into the depths. We also visit a local farm to photograph the elegant Icelandic horses and have lunch at a tomato farm benefiting from geothermal heat. The day ends with a return to Reykjavik and a quiet dinner on your own or with your new travel friends.

Get ready for a day filled with the awe-inspiring natural beauty of Iceland’s South Coast. Our journey starts with a drive to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where you can walk behind the cascading water to create abstract images. Next, we visit Skógafoss, another majestic waterfall known for its impressive width and frequent rainbows. After enjoying lunch in Vik, we explore the haunting remains of the Sólheimasandur Plane Crash, offering a stark, dramatic contrast against Iceland’s wild landscapes. Afterwards, Dyrhólaey awaits with its breathtaking cliffside views and the famous arch, a haven for seabirds. We end the day at Reynisfjara Beach, famous for its black sand and basalt columns, before returning to our hotel in Vik for the evening.

Not to be outdone by our first two days, today’s adventure begins with a Zodiac boat ride in the enchanting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, navigating among majestic icebergs, offering some unparalleled photography opportunities. The photographic journey continues as we venture beneath Vatnajökull and into a crystal ice cave, where the interplay of light and ice crafts a mesmerizing scene. Finally, we head towards the imposing Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, with its dramatic cliffs draped in greenery serving as an ideal backdrop for the late light. As dusk falls, we head to our hotel near the Skaftafell National Park and get a good night’s rest for the next day’s memorable voyage.

Today we depart for a day-long journey through the picturesque East Fjords, featuring several stops that capture the essence of Iceland’s eastern coast. We take our time to appreciate Djúpivogur’s charming harbor and diverse birdlife, and bask in the striking fjord views of Stöðvarfjörður, among other awe-inspiring landscapes. Our day culminates in Seyðisfjörður, a delightful town embraced by steep mountains and waterfalls. We have time to get settled into our hotel and then explore this small fishing village before we gather for dinner together.

Our remarkable photographic opportunities continue today as we travel through the impressive Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng tunnel, ushering us into Eastern Iceland’s wonders. Here, we are welcomed by both the Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss waterfalls, where the water plunges over basalt cliffs, a dream scene for any photographer. During the day we also head out to the varied terrains around the East Fjords, showcasing Iceland’s untamed beauty. As the evening draws near, we find ourselves perfectly positioned for our first opportunity to (hopefully) witness the northern lights. This evening, not only do we have the chance to see these mesmerizing lights dance across the sky, but we also learn how to photograph this incredible spectacle, teaching you how to capture the magical moments of the auroras with your camera.

Our journey today leads us to Borgarfjörður Eystri, a haven for bird enthusiasts, where we have the unique opportunity to observe puffins up close at Hafnarhólmi. These charismatic seabirds, known for their colorful beaks and waddling gait, are a delight to photograph, especially as they dive and interact on the cliffs. Our visit provides ample time to learn and practice photographing not only puffins but also other native birds, amidst the stunning backdrop of Iceland’s coastline. After immersing ourselves in bird watching, we retreat to the cozy village of Bakkagerði for lunch. The afternoon is dedicated to exploring the broad beauty of the East Fjords, where serene fjord landscapes unfold with every turn, offering glimpses of secluded inlets, majestic cliffs, and the tranquil life of remote Icelandic villages. Our day of discovery winds down as we return to Seyðisfjörður for the evening.

This morning, we set off on a leisurely 4-hour scenic drive to Akureyri, punctuated with a visit to the magnificent Dettifoss waterfall, known for its amazing volume and force. As we navigate through Iceland’s diverse landscapes, each view unveils a new aspect of the country’s astonishing natural beauty. Arriving around noon, we have the afternoon to photograph this enchanting town. From a local art museum and a botanical garden to picturesque walking paths, Stephen and the tour leader are available to assist with ideas for making new images in this striking town only 63 miles from the Arctic Circle. As evening nears, we are ideally situated for our second opportunity to witness and immortalize the aurora borealis, a breathtaking phenomenon resulting from solar particles interacting with the atmosphere—wrapping a day rich in natural marvels.

After breakfast, we set off on a captivating whale-watching journey, promising close encounters with the ocean’s giants in a spectacular display. This experience allows us to observe and photograph these majestic creatures up close. Next, we venture to Lake Myvatn, a treasure trove of distinctive lava formations and diverse ecosystems. After thoroughly exploring the region, we enjoy a farm-to-table lunch that highlights the area’s commitment to fresh, locally sourced fare against a beautiful natural backdrop. We wrap up our day as we return to Akureyri and our farewell dinner where we share and receive feedback on our best photographs from the trip.

It’s Wednesday and our day of departure to return to a new reality. We board a morning flight back to Reykjavik (1 hour) where you can connect to your departing flights back home. Your return flight from Reykjavik should depart after 2:00 pm.

Join Stephen for a photographic expedition to the land of fire and ice and push your image-making to new heights.  

Additional Information

WHO SHOULD ATTEND:

This program is open to photographers at all levels who are passionate about travel and improving their image making.

What You Should Know:

Participants should be technically self-sufficient, as this is not a program to learn how to use your gear or editing software. This a photographic tour, not a photography workshop and there isn’t structured classroom time. There will be an image review session with Stephen in the middle of the trip and this help with ideas and techniques on-location.

Special Notes:

Participants make their own air travel arrangements to Reykjavik (RKV) to arrive in time for the opening reception and dinner on Monday, September 15 at 6:00pm. To avoid jet lag, it is advised to consider arriving a day in advance to rest before the tour begins. NOTE: Departure at the end of the trip is from the Reykjavik airport but flights need to be scheduled for after 2:00 pm.

It is required that you purchase trip cancellation/travel insurance for this trip. Once the trip is confirmed, additional information and travel details will be provided. Enrollment is limited to 12 participants.

Activity Level:

To get the most from this international experience, participants should be in good physical (mobility, stamina) and mental health. In general, arrive prepared for long days and seasonal weather including variable temperatures. You must be able to carry your own photographic and personal gear at all times. You are responsible for being open and honest about your physical fitness, and we reserve the right to remove you from the workshop if we find your fitness to be less than that which you have described.

Please note that this particular trip will involve the following: long days, a good amount of walking over both rocky and slippery terrain for up to two hours at a time, being outside in potentially cold temperatures, long van journeys, and early morning wake-ups.

Policies:

View Payment, Refund, Withdrawal, and Transfer Policies for this International Program.

Package Price INFO:

$8,400 includes double accommodations for 9 nights (ideal for couples and friends traveling together; single supplement available for an additional $1,500); full breakfast daily, 7 lunches, and 5 group dinners; activities and entrance fees for everything on the itinerary; airport transfers; in-country guide; in-country ground transportation and flight. Airfare to Iceland, gratuities, as well as required trip insurance are not included.

Categories
Nature & Landscape, Portraiture, Storytelling, Street Photography, Travel Photography
© Chris Janjic
about
Stephen Wilkes

Stephen Wilkes is widely recognized for his fine art, editorial, and commercial images, as well as for his documentary feature film, Jay Myself. In addition to having editorial work featured in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and National Geographic, among many other publications, he has created advertising campaigns for businesses such as Netflix, IBM, Honda, and Nike. Stephen’s photographs can be seen in numerous private and public collections, from the George Eastman Museum to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Library of Congress. Among his accolades are the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography, Adweek Photographer of the Year, and the Sony World Photography Professional Award (2012).

Stephen, a National Geographic Explorer, was commissioned in 2021 by National Geographic to create a “Day to Night” of the Biden/Harris Presidential Inauguration. The resulting photograph was featured in National Geographic and exhibited at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in NYC. His newest project for National Geographic, “America the Beautiful,” was published in September 2022 and his photograph of Bears Ears National Monument was the cover image.

Instagram: @stephenwilkes

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