Iceland Photography Tour: It’s more than the Golden Circle and Elves…

Mark Jansen

Mark Jansen

Owner / Operator at Jansen Photo Expeditions
Mark’s interest in photography and love for landscapes constantly draws him into some amazing places. He researches his subjects extensively, sometimes making many trips to selected areas waiting for the perfect light, an interesting approach to the subject, and just the right moment.His goal of "freezing time for others to enjoy" is what drives him to create his visions.

Mark has a passion for landscape and classic creative aviation photography as well as providing large scale commercial installations of his fine art photographic murals and print works throughout California.

He has over 25 years of professional fine art and photographic experience. 

He works with both small and large corporate businesses in helping them project a powerful impact through his images. Mark offers photographic workshops in various U.S. and International locations.

Mark is an expert and personable instructor, expedition leader & award winning, visionary photographer. 

He is also a photography educator with the "Manfrotto School of Excellence" online educational network. 

"This is gorgeous work!", says Christopher Robinson, editor of Outdoor Photographer Magazine.
Mark Jansen


Contrary to popular belief, Iceland is a very developed country at its core. Small and compact, with only 300,000 people. 200,000 of them living in the main capital of Reykjavik. This leaves the remaining population, 100,000 spread throughout it’s remote and sparsely populated countryside.

When planning an Iceland Photography Tour, many photographers, have a chance of falling into a certain kind of tourist loop that is not optimal for the serious landscape photographer.

That would be the “Golden Circle Blue Lagoon Tourist Route”: the most advertised tour promoted by travel agencies and large discount photo tour operators.

One of the stops on this tour is the less interesting to photograph Blue Lagoon which was oddly created by a nearby hydro electric plant. The site is not frequented by locals in the know. The short and crowded Golden Circle loop is done in a half-day and is geared to the fly in, fly out crowds headed to Europe wanting to catch some quick sites of Iceland and dip in the Blue Lagoon’s pricey spas.

The Golden circle only shows a cursory view of the countryside closest to Reykjavik. It is designed for the non-serious tourist photographer, but interesting to see non the less if you don’t mind the crowds.
If you choose one of these budget tours, you’ll most likely be loaded on a bus with many other tourists to visit all of these  gated natural locations along the Golden Circle route, in short order. And you’ll be fighting for a window seat I’m sure!

The chances of you capturing that serious trophy shot once you get to these locations could be limited, with crowds of selfie shot seekers darting about, especially in the high season, when the population swells to over 1 million in Iceland!

That said, when you choose to spend your precious time with the alternative, a specialized backcounty group outfit with 6-8 people only, the trip will be geared to the  dedicated landscape photographer. There would only be a quick glimpse to see what the fuss is about at these places. You’ll soon be transported on your way to the vast remote back country region to experience Iceland’s natural beauty, populated with 100,000 or less and a few invisible Elves I’m sure. Yes, there is a strong belief that certain supernatural forces inhabit the volcanic rocks. Something must be  responsible for Icelands beauty, why not Elves?

The key to photographing Iceland’s natural features is to  spend your time in the backcountry and be with the right people that know how to get you in and out successfully and safely. Exposing you to the right scenery at the right time for the best light.

You’ve come a long way to vist. I’d hate for you to miss all the great backcountry scenery with only the Golden Circle under your belt. Save your money and invest in a small group outfitter with good local knowlage. If not with us, somebody else that knows what they’re doing. I’ve heard too many  first hand stories by many that have gone the discount route and have been highly disappointed by the lack of great photo opportunities.

Join us for our February 2016 Iceland Expedition, you won’t be disappointed!

All the Best,