Bending the Light – Wesley Johnson’s Iceland Photography Workshop

How I got into photography…

I was in community college—floundering. No direction. So, I took a Photo 101 course. I bought the textbook, and was thumbing through it, when fate intervened. I turned a page, and saw Moonrise, Hernandez New Mexico by Ansel Adams. I had never imagined such a photograph. It was haunting and beautiful in a way I can never articulate—a single image that changed the course of my entire life. In that instant, I was baptized; from that moment, I was a photographer.

To make it official, I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology, where I received my Bachelor’s in Photography. I shot stills for many years, then received my Master’s in Cinematography at the American Film Institute in Hollywood. I now spend my time shooting commercial and narrative work in both stills and motion.

Landscape photography will always be my true love

I’ve been hired the most to photograph people—portraiture, fashion, editorial, advertising—but my true love will always be landscape work. These days, I’m doing all I can to combine the two: Great People in Great Places.

The mighty Skógafoss is one of several iconic waterfalls you'll meet in Iceland. - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop The mighty Skógafoss is one of several iconic waterfalls you'll meet in Iceland. - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop

My inspiration

First, the Earth. This planet is absolutely the most incredible organism.

Ansel Adams. I learned the Zone System from his own hand. He mastered the ability to capture the earth in its most evanescent moments.

Richard Avedon, for capturing that same evanescence, only with people instead. His early fashion work changed photography forever.

Annie Leibovitz. Mark Seliger. Brett Weston. Edward Curtis. Imogen Cunningham. Edward Steichen. Dorothea Lange. And probably my favorite photographer of all time in his own way: Sebastiao Salgado.

My photography gear of choice

I came up on a Linhof Technikarden 4x5. Amazing foundation to learn on. These days, my Hasselblad with a digital back is another great tool. And a 5D Mark III all other times.

Jökulsárlón—the Glacial Lagoon. An iceberg sanctuary and unforgettable sight! - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop Jökulsárlón—the Glacial Lagoon. An iceberg sanctuary and unforgettable sight! - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop

Bending the Light—an Iceland Photography Workshop

I have been blessed to work with and learn from the greatest photographers and storytellers on earth; I have traveled all over the world, and have been profoundly affected by the people and places I’ve experienced. After 15 years of the above, I feel I am in a position to offer something genuinely worthwhile to those who wish to learn to hone their craft, in places that will bless their lives. The purpose of Bending the Light is just that: To help others master their photography, while having the adventure of a lifetime in the most spectacular places on earth.

One of a myriad ice caves with their infinite texture and mesmerizing features! - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop One of a myriad ice caves with their infinite texture and mesmerizing features! - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop

Why Iceland?

Iceland is a photographic paradise. In terms of concentrated beauty (grandeur per square kilometer), there’s no more potent place on earth. Consequently, what you accomplish in a day in Iceland is remarkable. Volcanoes, glaciers, lava fields, icebergs and innumerable wildlife are just the beginning: It’s a bottomless well—a shape-shifting canvas of weather and terrain that inspires and challenges every skill level. Against such backdrops, we’re creating the opportunity to learn photographic invaluable principles, put them into immediate practice, and come home with your own amazing images.

We have the people and the tools to take you into places you could never get on your own—and these places will absolutely blow your mind! We will be in the very thick of it: You won’t just photograph Europe’s largest glacier, you’ll walk across it—you’ll bring it home in your boots!

I have been to Iceland every year of my life since 2008. After so many visits, it’s a place that I know well, and have great relationships in—all of which make such a workshop possible. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better place to learn how to make meaningful, powerful photographs—it’s the world’s greatest classroom.

The gods are alive in Iceland with displays of Northern Lights at all-time highs! - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop The gods are alive in Iceland with displays of Northern Lights at all-time highs! - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop

Photography challenges meet Iceland’s landscape

The biggest challenge with photography is also the greatest thing about it: You’re never done. You’re never finished learning, growing or improving—you can always, always make a better image—and there’s 150 years of iconic photographs to keep the ego in check!

Ansel himself said that landscape photography is by far the most difficult of all. That’s because you’re not in control. It takes an immense patience, practice and experimentation (this means lots of failure) to acquire a great landscape image—and no small amount of luck! That’s landscape photography.

But I’ll say this in favor of Iceland: Because the conditions change so rapidly, it seriously increases the likelihood of success. I secured my first portfolio of images in Iceland (15 great moments) in seven days. That’s unheard of. Chance favors the prepared, and we’ll be setting people up for success!

Super Jeeps are Iceland's answer to Mother Nature. They'll get us to places you never imagined existed! - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop Super Jeeps are Iceland's answer to Mother Nature. They'll get us to places you never imagined existed! - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop

Destination workshops: The hard part and the easy part

The hardest part is getting people to take the leap. It’s not inexpensive, we know—but I can honestly say that in certain respects, this will be the greatest single week of your life. That’s a huge, huge promise that we plan to deliver on. You will see and do things you’ve never seen or done, and learn so much about how to make great images.

Nature is raw, vibrant and unrestrained in Iceland, where geothermal plumes and hot springs thrive across the land. - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop Nature is raw, vibrant and unrestrained in Iceland, where geothermal plumes and hot springs thrive across the land. - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop

What to expect from me, Bending the Light, and tentative photography workshops

Iceland is just the beginning. I love the States, especially my home in the American Southwest. We’ll be doing the Red Rock country (Southern Utah) soon, as well as Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and so on. The idea is to develop a range of workshops at varying prices so everyone who wants to can join us.

A special offer on Bending the Light

Iceland is an expensive country, and we’ve got the price as low as possible. But it means so much to me to see this successful—and success means a great group of eager, passionate people. If you’re interested in the workshop, please visit the website to learn more. And as a fellow pictureline supporter, we’ll even knock off a little of the price. Register for the workshop, enter the promo code "PICTURELINE” after your name in the first box, and receive $250 off the workshop cost.

Wild white swans flock by the hundreds to the Pond in downtown Reykjavik. - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop Wild white swans flock by the hundreds to the Pond in downtown Reykjavik. - Wesley Johnson, Iceland Photography Workshop

Enjoy the photos, enjoy Bending the Light, and I hope you’ll join us!

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