Once you know what the purpose of your trip is, it will help you determine where to stay. Iceland’s most photographed locations are without a doubt located on the Southern Coast, this includes Skogafoss and Sejulandfoss waterfalls, the famous plane wreck, the glacier lagoon, the black sand beach, and more friendly, goofy Icelandic horses than you can shake a stick at.
Now, even though these are all located on the Southern part of the Island, the Country really only has one population center, which is located on the western peninsula, Reykjavik. This is about a 3 1/2 hour drive one way from Vik, which is the closest town to most of those locations on the Southern Coast. This means that your models that you hire will have to make that drive down to your locations to shoot with you, which could make it hard to find models in the first place. On the flip side, food and lodging are very hard to find outside of Reykjavik, however once you know what your purpose behind your trip is, you may opt to forgo the typical amenities you find on vacation in order to have better access to your shooting locations. Vik and Hof will give you the best access to the Southern Ring, and Reykjavik would be a better choice if you are looking to travel to Kirkjufell. You may also opt to do a few days in each part, which would be your best bet if you want to see all of Iceland and will likely be how we do Iceland next time we come.
Also you will want to determine when to visit Iceland. Summer time will give you near 24 hours of shootable light on a clear day, with the sun really only setting to dusk-like light levels between 11pm-3am. However because of this you can’t see the northern lights. On the flip side, if you travel there in the wintertime, you will not have much shooting time. Late spring-early fall will give you a good balance and you might even see the Northern Lights if you come at the right time, we didn’t get a chance this trip.
Tip 3: Plan your Costs
Iceland is expensive, no getting around that…..Our daily gas station runs to stock up on snacks for the long drives would run 40-60 USD. That would be in line with what you may spend at home, but keep in mind that this is terrible gas station junk food. I swear I won’t eat another bag of Doritos for a year…….We sat down for a meal of lamb and fish (Iceland’s only two choices in restaurants aside from pizza and hot dogs) and that meal for four people came out to $250 with no alcohol. Reykjavik does have some American chains like Hard Rock Cafe and such, so if you are staying there you might have more options for food.
Before you start planning, I recommend creating a spreadsheet with the costs incurred for every aspect of the trip, that would include airfare, lodging, rental car, baggage fees, airport transfers, meals, gas, models, makeup and hair, gown rentals, editing, etc
More on the food in a minute…..
Furthermore, in the summertime, your car rental is not cheap, we spent nearly $150 a day for our car, a diesel Dacia Duster with a manual transmission. Get the gravel/sand insurance as rock and gravel damage is common here and a rock broke our windshield the day before we left, that would have been a $600 had we not opted for it.
Also, gas here is expensive, about $2 a litre ($6 a gallon)…Did I mention we drove 1700 miles on this 10 day trip? Get a diesel to make your fuel more efficient.
Now if you are traveling with your camera gear, wardrobe for your models, and grip, understand that many planes charge a lot of money for overweight baggage, however these fees can be reduced or waived if you get yourself a media pass, which you can make at home in photoshop and put on your phone, Google the F-Stoppers article about this for more info but it worked like a charm for us this time reducing our baggage fees from $200 down to $70 per overweight bag.
Now if you are planning shoots with models, understand that nobody is driving 7 hours for a trade job, you will have to pay them, and it won’t be cheap to do so, expect to pay between $600-$1000 per day for your models and additional $$$ for your hair and makeup people. If you are traveling with clients I HIGHLY encourage you to help them plan out your day trips so they know exactly how much car time they will be enduring.
Tip 4: Plan your meals