The Iceland photography scene has completely exploded along with the tourism boom. In Iceland, you can get spectacular shots with everything from still and powerful landscapes to vibrant city life and wildlife. Doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for harsh winter Iceland photography or warm summer pictures, Iceland has it all!
How good are the opportunities for some Iceland photography on your holiday? Where are you allowed to fly a drone in Iceland? Where are the top locations for landscape photography in Iceland? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and much more!
An Iceland photography holiday is one of the best things you can do in Iceland, even if you’re not that into photography. The sheer number of locations to take pictures is reason enough to book yourself a ticket! And why not, maybe even your own Iceland photography guide.
You can even get some fantastic pictures on any of the many day trips from Reykjavík if you don’t want to travel too much. Iceland is a country that pretty much offers everything. From amazing, otherworldly locations, to colorful modern settings with simple motifs. You can go on Iceland photography tours and hire guides to step up the quality of your photography trip to Iceland.
Just going about your day and taking photos left, right, and center, simply won’t do. Iceland is an outstanding place, but even this wild country has its rules. If you follow common sense when it comes to Iceland photography, you should be fine. Common-sense guidelines include:
Respect people’s privacy
Don’t photograph any military facilities
Follow directions on tours and sightseeing to make sure you’re allowed to photograph
Iceland drone photography has become more and more popular in the community. Luckily, Iceland isn’t that heavily restricted when it comes to drones, but restricted enough to have an impact. Some Iceland photography tips when it comes to droning is to keep to these rules:
Don’t fly over heights higher than the roofs of Reykjavík
Don’t fly within 2 kilometers of an airport
Don’t fly near any government buildings or military facilities
Don’t fly closer than 150 meters to any public building
Don’t fly closer than 50 meters to any private buildings without the owner’s consent
Don’t fly in the national parks or near power plants
Don’t fly higher than 120 meters.
The Northern Lights
Going to Iceland at any point in the winter, late fall, or early spring and not seeing the Northern Lights is blasphemy. The best time to visit Iceland for photography of these amazing lights will be in the middle of winter, though.
The Iceland Northern Lights photography tips we can give is to keep long exposure, and for the love of the camera-God, don’t use a flash. A flash will ruin your and others’ pictures.
The main character in the Iceland photography community is the many different landscapes here. Depending on who you ask, you will get different tips for the top locations for landscape photography in Iceland. We give a few here:
Mountains, Volcanoes, and Glaciers
The most majestic of the majestic when it comes to Iceland landscape photography must be the mountains. Nothing says power like a dormant Icelandic volcano under thousands of tons of Ice, just waiting to break out and demonstrate its power. With the right Iceland photography tips, you can get a picture that shows just that. Some popular mountains to photograph include:
Mount kirkjufell on the Snaefellsness peninsula
Grimsvotn volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula
Rivers, Lakes, and Waterfalls
Another strong force of nature that can produce spectacular scenery is water. Whether it’s running, standing still, or frozen solid, water has this ancient power that speaks to us on a foundational level.
Water is also one of the elements that do well in all its forms in Iceland winter photography sessions. All the snow, frozen waterfalls, and mountain streams will provide you with endless possibilities to get those creative juices flowing.
One of the pro Iceland photography tips is to visit in-nature hot springs and the geysers in the wintertime. The contrast between warm water in the dead of winter is always a hit and will be something mesmerizing in the right light and angle. They’re also great at making friends and family jealous (just saying).
A pro Iceland photography tip that is a little bit unusual is to go out in a storm. This way you can catch the raging sea, bashing against the cliffs and whipping up mountains of foam. Those are the polar opposites of a calm hot spring pic. Some cool water spots can be found at:
Any Ice cave in Iceland
Lava fields, Plains, and Beaches
This volcanic island and lava go hand in hand to the point where you can’t take a drive anywhere without going through miles and miles of lava fields. All lands in Iceland are old lava fields, and you can easily paint a story with pictures of all the stages, from barren lava fields to lush plains. If you’re interested in some amazing lava landscapes, you should visit these spots:
Diamond Beach in Jökulsarlon
Solheimasandur plane crash
Eldhraun lava field
Any locations like these outside the national parks are perfect for some Iceland drone photography.
Tame and Wildlife
If it’s not the flora, it’s the fauna. In any Iceland photography itinerary worthy of the name, you will come across loads and loads of animals. You will see tame animals like horses, cows, goats, and (the national farm animal) sheep! As well as wild Icelandic animals like the cute Puffin, majestic whale, and maybe even the elusive Arctic Fox.
We will have to draw the line here between farm animals and wild farm animals. In Iceland, the sheep and reindeer will wander the mountains and highlands and mix with animals from different farmers. This is to our advantage since they make for great pictures in a wilder setting.
Cows and horses will also strike a good pose for the camera, even though the amazing Icelandic horse is a clear favorite between the two. However, with the help of a competent Iceland photography guide, you can get the most amazing pictures of both of these friendly farm friends.
Iceland has more birds than they can make sense of. Seabirds in Iceland can be found all over the coast, and even more so if you go in the summer.
The Puffin bird is by far the most popular bird to photograph in Iceland and is very likely to be on any good Iceland photography itinerary. A popular spot for the Puffins is the Latrabjarg cliffs in the Westfjords. Here, the curios Icelandic Puffin birds have been seen waddling up to photographers to take a closer look at what they’re doing in the grass.
If seabirds are not your favorite Iceland photography motifs, you will have many other birds to choose from. The Raven can be found all over Iceland and easily adapt to their surroundings. The Gyrfalcon is Iceland’s national bird and one of the most amazing birds to catch in action with the camera. The majestic White-Tailed Eagle is the largest bird in Iceland and is a sight to be seen around the coastline.
The largest wildlife you will find in Iceland will be in the ocean. The only land-living mammal in Iceland is the Arctic Fox. This little furball is easiest to find in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords. But you can see it in other parts of the country too if you’re lucky.
Taking a whale-watching tour is always a good idea to spot the sea creatures. Húsavik – the whale capital of Iceland – is the place to go for a really high chance of seeing these giants. If you go in the winter, you might also get the chance to use the Iceland Northern Lights photography tips! Since many winter tours will incorporate a good peek at this light display.
If you want to catch a seal in a picture, we suggest moving to Jökulsarlon, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, or Vatnsnes Peninsula.
Don’t think that your Iceland photography adventure ends in nature. Have you ever seen the stuff that these islanders build? They make everything from ancient turf houses to the majestic Reykjavík Churches and love to show it off.
Iceland has been known for its free-spirited architecture, with houses in many different shapes and colors. These are frequent in the rural areas in Iceland, especially in Reykjavík, Húsavik, and Akureyri. So, make sure to mark them out on your Iceland photography map. If you’re looking for places off the beaten path, check out our article on the most charming towns in Iceland.
Are you looking for Iceland’s best pictures of amazing architecture and city views? We then suggest the iconic Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavík. You’re allowed to climb up the church to get amazing shots of the city and admire the impressive interior.
Iceland is a very cultural country, and many towns and cities have made room for street art in certain places. Here you can see everything from local beginner artists trying things out, to entire buildings covered in intricate pieces of art.
On par with Iceland landscape photography, lighthouses never disappoint when it comes to taking Iceland’s best pictures. You find lighthouses all over the coast, and it doesn’t seem to matter if you photograph them day or night, they always seem to turn out good.
Getting the Best Picture
Iceland photography tours are popular choices for real photo enthusiasts. These tours will not only help you find the good motifs at the best locations, but they might also often help with setting up the appropriate camera settings and even help with some post-photography editing.
Iceland photography workshops are not unusual at all. They have become more and more common as the interest in capturing the unique Icelandic scenery has grown. Before, during, and after you take a tour, make sure to visit a free Wi-Fi spot in Iceland to upload any pictures or download any necessary software you might need.
The biggest fish in the sea when it comes to Iceland photography is Arctic Exposure. They specialize in all things photography and will go all over the arctic to get their shots. This is an award-winning establishment that will suit your summer as well as your Iceland winter photography trips. This is a great alternative for the all-round photographer that wants a little bit of everything on their trip.
A small and exclusive company with some experience behind them is Icelandic Photo Tours. These guys only run two groups a year, and they’re only 5 days long each. An exclusive alternative for the one who wants a personal touch to their Iceland photography trip.
Landscape Photography Iceland is a one-man show where you can go with Pall Jokull, an award-winning landscape photographer. He will take you on Iceland photography trips that will range between 1 and 10 days, and will customize the tour to your needs and preferences.
If you are down a piece of equipment or want to make sure it hasn’t been damaged in transport, we suggest going to a camera store in Reykjavík to get your supplies. These establishments are scarce in the country. So, taking care of your equipment when you first get to a camera store in Reykjavík would be highly recommended.
Let Your Iceland Photography Adventure Begin!
Now you know where to go, whom to talk to, and where to service your stuff. Before you roll out on your Iceland photography adventure, make sure to get your hands on a proper rental car in Iceland that will suit your travel needs as well as possible.