Workshops: Iceland 2017 New Years Winter Photography Tour

Dates:  December 27, 2016 - January 03, 2017  (7.5 days, 7 nights)   

Cost:  $2600 USD or Euro equivalent

Availability:  Sold out!   

This 7.5 day / 7 night photography tour rings in the New Year with amazing photography opportunities around the classic Icelandic glaciers and ice caves, with New Year's spent in the capital city of Reykjavik. 

Explore the legendary land of fire and ice, visiting and photographing sights throughout southern Iceland. Meant for outdoor photographers of all skill levels who desire to see Iceland's beauty in winter, on this tour you will experience glacier and ocean landscapes, waterfalls, crystal ice caves, icebergs and glacial lagoons, and above all, unparalleled chances to view the Aurora Borealis in all regions of the country. This trip focuses on bringing you to outstanding rural locations in Iceland, away from all the day-tours from Reykjavik. We'll have a comfortable schedule, days and evenings filled with rewarding photography opportunities around the island, and cozy stays in rural guesthouses at night. Read below for a detailed itinerary and further trip information.


Day 1 - Arrival to Reykjavik, and South Coast

December 27, 2016

After spending the Christmas holidays back home, you will arrive in Reykavik early morning on this day, or if coming from Europe as schedules allow arriving on the 26th beforehand.   We depart from Reykjavik in early morning for a drive along the south coast to Vik. Along the way, we'll photography South Coast waterfalls, farm scenes, and other rural country sights. During daylight hours, we utilize the low-angle sun to capture magic light even at midday. We'll end the day with a sunset shoot at Vik. Accommodations will be in Vik. 


Day 2 - Southeast Iceland and Skaftafell

December 28, 2016

On day 2, we'll explore the southeast of Iceland, including waterfalls, Icelandic horses, and abandoned farms. Accommodations will be near Skaftafell National Park.  


Day 3 - Jokulsarlon Iceberg Lagoon & Ice Caves

December 29, 2016

We'll drive on 'super jeeps' with large tyres cross-country to remote ice caves with a local guide, experiencing and photographing this phenomenon unique to Iceland -- exploring the stunning transluscent blue interior. We'll then spend the rest of the day in the glacial lagoon regions photographing ice and icebergs. In the dark hours of each day, with epic glacial backgrounds and in dark places away from any artifical lights, we'll search the skies and wait to photograph the Aurora Borealis - always with phenomenal landscape backdrops and reflection potential. Accommodations will be in Höfn.


Day 4 - Jokulsarlon Glacier region

December 30, 2015

This will be a full day spent at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and iceberg beach areas, as well as other nearby glacial lagoons. In the evening we'll go out for a possible aurora over Jokulsarlon. Accommodations will be in the Jokulsarlon area.


Day 5 - Jokulsarlon and westward

December 31, 2016

The morning will be spent at Jokulsarlon for our last sunrise photo opportunity in this location. We'll then visit the rest of farm and waterfall sights back till Vik, followed by Vik seastacks and and headlands. We'll see a possible aurora from Dyroley in the evening.Then we return to Reykjavik, in time to enjoy a fancy meal at a top Reykjavik restaurant, and enjoy the New Years Eve festivities which include bonfires and a bonanza of fireworks lit all over the city in pure chaos. What a great way to bring in the year - photographing in Iceland!


Day 6 - Snaefellsness Peninsula

January 01, 2017

Kirkjufell mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall are the backdrop to where we stay in Grundarfjordur, a charming fishing village on the north shore of the Snaefellsness Peninsula. Today involves driving from Reykjavik up to the peninsula, and photographing the south coastal sights of Anarstapi and Budir. Overnight and possible aurora location around Grundarfjordur


Day 7 - Snaefellsness Peninsula

January 2, 2017

Continued photography of the coastal villages, lighthouses, lava fields, and sea cliffs of the Snaefellsness Peninsula. Overnight and possible aurora location around Grundarfjordur

Day 8 - Return to Reykjavik

January 03, 2017

After sunrise and morning shooting, we'll return to Reykjavik around 2 pm, in time for departing flights in the afternoon -- or you can stay on your own in Reykjavik!  End of basic tour.   Bonus evening shoot if clear weather for any participants still in Reykjavik. Accommodations and dinner are not included.


Day 9 - Optional and Extra (add-on day): Þingvellir National Park and area waterfalls

January 4, 2017

This is an extra, optional day for those wishing to visit Þingvellir National park, the division between the European and North American tectonic plates, Öxararfoss, and also visit the secret Bruarfoss lovely rapids and Geysir, all part of the famous Golden Circle. Accommodations Not Included. Price for this extra tour day is $150 per person, no meals or accomodations, and only includes guiding and transportation.


General Trip Information

Group Size:  Maximum size of 6; minimum size of 3.

Start/End:  Trip starts morning of 27 December 2016, with our departure from Reykjavik on tour (accommodation is not included the night before). The base trip concludes on January 3, 2017 without accomodation for that night in Reykjavik.  There is an option to stay in Reykjavik on your own and the following day join a day tour of the Golden Circle, as a private group with any other trip participants.  We'll be so immersed in the Icelandic countryside for our entire time as a group, that we have left no time to enjoy the sights of Reykjavik, so we encourage you to stay in Reykjavik for a couple days on your own, either before or after the tour.


  • All photographic instruction and local guiding
  • All transporation in a 4x4 van
  • Ice cave visit with local glacier guide with extra time spent in the ice cave with private group
  • All meals and food (breakfast served by our hotels/guesthouses, lunches sourced from local cafes or bagged lunches, and hot dinners at our places of accommodation and/or restaurants)
  • Any entry fees to various areas or attractions
  • Accommodation for 7 nights (in Icelandic guesthouses and country hotels; accommodation is based on double occupancy, with ensuite bathrooms; single supplement fee may be added for $70/night).

Not Included: 

  • Flights and airport transfer
  • Your time in Iceland before and after the trip
  • Trip insurance
  • Souvenirs
  • Anything else not listed as being included

Experience Needed:  This tour is open to photographers of skill levels, with rural country and landscape and austral photography interests.  If you have additional questions, the trip leader will be happy to answer them over the phone or by email.

Photography Instruction

This photo workshop is all about in-the-field field photography and situational instruction, working alongside your trip leader. Each day, the group will photograph diverse landscapes and natural wonders of Iceland, in the quiet and peaceful setting of the Icelandic wintertime. In the evening, we'll occasionally have image critiques and editing sessions on clients' laptops. We will always being prepared to go out to photograph the Aurora Borealis should it occur. Aurora Borealis viewing depends on 2 main factors: solar activity and clear weather. The chances of us photographing this phenomenon are very high, given that we're out for six nights, and way away from the city of Reykjavik.

Photographic topics that will covered while shooting include nighttime and austral photography, Aurora Borealis photography, classic landscape photography composition and technique, HDR (High Dynamic Range) imagery, panoramic photography, adventure and travel photography, and slow shutterspeed effects. Our full 8 days and nights of photography potential allow us to see a variety of well-known Icelandic natural wonders of the South Coast, ice caves of the Vatnajokull glacier region, the glaciers and icebergs of Jokulsarlon lagoon, and combined with austral wonderment, enable each participant to get the most out this once-in-a-lifetime trip. In good daytime weather and clear night skies, December days are suprisingly not that short, and can be up to 6 hours of non-stop photography daytime photography action, plus hours of night photography if the auroras are out!  A maximum group size of 8 photographers ensures you will receive ample personal photographic coaching in the field from a full time working pro, and provide an intimate small group adventure experience. 

Johnathan Esper of Wildernesscapes Photography LLC, based in the USA, will be leading the trip, his 45th+ in Iceland. Johnathan is a full time photographer and international photo trip leader, and has a unique background and an intimate knowledge of Iceland from living out of a car, exploring and photographing Iceland intensively for months at a time. He specializes in wide panoramic landscapes and adventure photography in Iceland and the Adirondack region in the USA. Johnathan also sometimes works with other top Icelandic photographers on co-guided trips.

Trip Terms

Deposit:  An $800 deposit is due at the time of registration, and the remaining balance is due 2 weeks prior to trip start.  Until payment is sent, your place is not guaranteed. You may conveniently pay your deposit here (near bottom of page) securely with your credit card, processed by Paypal payment processor.  The deposit portion may also be paid via personal or bank check for USA and Canadian clients. Refunds are possible, with a mix of cash refund and future trip credit, depending on cancellation date. Please contact me if you need any assistance in signing up!

Final Payment: The final payment for the balance due on the trip (after your paid deposit), is due one week prior to the trip start. Payment options include bank transfer to my Icelandic bank account (details on request), cash in person at the trip start (with prior permissin), personal or bank checks (preferred for USA and Canada clients), and credit cards (a 2% credit card fee will be added for final payments with card).

Cancellation Policy:  In the unfortunate case if you need to cancel, cancellation policy is: Deposit payments are refundable as 100% future scheduled trip credit up to 120 days before trip start, 50% future scheduled trip credit if cancellation is 120-60 days before trip start, and non-refundable less than 60 days before start. Final payments for the full trip balance are 100% refundable as cash until the trip start, and non-refundable after the trip start. If I am able to fill your empty spot on the trip, half of what you'd lose will additionally be returned to you, for all the above situations.   If I cancel the trip for some major reason, such as overwhelming volcanic activity, trip leader health crisis, etc, then I fully refund everything in cash or Paypal, or a pro-rated amount if the trip must end early for the same reasons. I am not responsible for reimbursing you for travel or other ancillary expenses you incur in prep for the trip. 

Trip Leader

Johnathan A. Esper
Wildernesscapes Photography LLC
PO Box 326, Long Lake, NY
United States
phone: 001 518 354 3983 (USA) or +354 626 0292 (Iceland)   or