Iceland Photo Workshop

10th October 2011
Iceland has been high on my list of places that I would really like to visit, and particularly, to photograph. It’s a long way from Australia, and something that didn’t look like it was going to happen soon. Then one morning, I stumbled upon a photo workshop that was being conducted in Iceland, led by Hans Strand , focussing on landscape only, and including a morning taking aerials from a helicopter. It took about two milliseconds to decide that this was the workshop that I wanted to do,

If you Google photo workshops in Iceland, you will get a strange mix. Some sound like prison with rules about having to present your images daily for review, others talk of staying in Icelandic huts. Trust me, unless you are in your twenties and like sleeping like a sardine in a bunk house, this is to be avoided.

Many workshops try to provide a bit of everything but I don’t really want to spend time taking puffins, or houses with grass on the roof. I’ve yet to see one that I thought was much better than a snapshot. Fine art doesn’t seem to be a strong point of most workshops.

The other option has always been the standard ‘hire a car and drive around the island’ method. This always seemed a bit hit or miss to me, requiring a lot of research beforehand and relying on the internet.

So with that background, when a workshop like this presented itself, it was a no-brainer. Hans Strand is a Hasselblad Masters Landscape winner, who has been going to Iceland, at least annually, since the mid-90’s and there wasn’t a puffin to be seen.

Getting to Reykjavik from Sydney is no small feat. There are a number of options, all of which are long. I flew from Sydney to Dubai, and then on to Copenhagen, overnighted and then on to Reykjavik,

The workshop was everything that it advertised. We travelled in a small bus with a very knowledgeable Icelandic driver who took us to places that I would never have thought of going to in a four wheel drive by myself. We had an Icelandic chef along for a few days who managed to create restaurant quality lunches and dinners. You really haven’t eaten in Iceland until you have dined in a tent in a lava field on superb food and French wine.

The photography was excellent. We were blessed with a mix of weather from sleet to sun but we managed to shoot most of the day. Having Hans Strand around was an experience in itself. My previous experience with workshops has been mixed. Often very little real information passed from leader to attendees.

Hans is the best photographic instructor that I have encountered. He is very willing to share his knowledge and has a very relaxed style without any hype. His ability to create an excellent composition in any situation was enlightening. It was a revelation to see what he had produced and what the rest of us had done. Every day was a Masterclass that I really enjoyed.

If you are contemplating an Icelandic adventure, I would recommend these guys unreservedly. They are Better Moments (www.better-moments.com) If I could just get my hands on the family fortune, I would be back there next year in a flash.

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