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 hydroelectric 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 none 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 backcountry 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 backcountry 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 Iceland’s 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 visit. 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 knowledge. 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 one our Iceland Expedition, you won’t be disappointed!
All the Best,