Mary Ellen Mark's Photo Workshop in Iceland

featuring Mary Ellen Mark & Einar “Effi” Falur Ingolfsson

Iceland is a country of beauty and contrasts. Known for its dramatic landscapes and natural marvels, it has been an inspiration for artists for centuries. These 13 days for the workshops have been chosen specifically because they are a time of great activity in Iceland.  There are many strong visual themes and events to be photographed in and around Reykjavik.

Mary Ellen Mark and her husband, Martin Bell will conduct a Photography & Film-Making Workshop in association with Icelandic artists Einar “Effi” Falur Ingolfsson and his wife Ingibjorg “Inga” Johannsdottir.  Mary Ellen and Effi will teach the photography workshop together. Martin will teach the film-making workshop. Inga will supervise the logistics of both classes including the operation of the darkroom and editing facilities and the guest lecturers at the Reykjavik School of Visual Arts.

Mary Ellen Mark on working in Iceland:

"In the summer of 2005, I was asked to produce five photographic portfolios for the Morgunbladid Newspaper.  One of the projects I requested to photograph was a school for disabled children in Reykjavik.  The newspaper arranged for me to spend a day at Öskjuhlíðarskóli.  It was an unforgettable day.  I immediately fell in love with the children as I followed them through their daily activities, which included a swimming class.  It was in that swimming class that I met one young boy that especially won my heart.  This boy walked with the aid of a walker with unimaginable effort and was fearless in the water.  He used precious few words but had a strong presence.  I took many photographs of him swimming.  On the bus ride back to school, he sat in front of me and kept leaning around his seat to make sure I was still there.  His name: Alexander".

"….During the seven weeks that we spent in Iceland (over three separate trips), my husband Martin Bell, made a film, “Alexander”, focusing on Alexander and his relationship with his parents (Steinunn & Palli), grandparents (Edda & Siggi), friends, teachers, and even his dog; Rocky.  Martin’s film also visits Öskjuhlíðarskóli, Safamýrarskóli, and Lyngás.  The film shows how the teachers and caretakers make a strong connection with the higher functioning disabled children as well as with children who on the surface seem unreachable.

Extract from Extraordinary Child by Mary Ellen Mark

About the Photography Workshop

This class is for photographers of all levels. Prior to the workshop, students will be provided a long list of possible story ideas for consideration by both photography and film students. Some examples of themes to explore are music festivals, fisherman on a ocean going boat, a summer camp for disabled children, a gay parade, swimming pools in Reykjavik, workers in a geothermal plant, a fish factory and a magnesium factory, Blue Lagoon volcanic spa, Icelandic horses, and spectacular landscape locations that are among the most beautiful in the world. Some of the music events require travel for a few days, so students who choose those themes will have to inform the workshop team in advance so all necessary arrangements can be made. Icelanders speak English and Danish widely, so there is no need for translators.

The two classes will meet together for the first day’s group critique and the final critique on the last day as well as the evening sessions. The exchange of ideas between the film and photography students will be very productive.  During the first day all portfolios will be reviewed in a group setting including Mary Ellen, Effi, Martin, and Inga.  Each person will spend about 10 minutes presenting their portfolio and talking about what they have decided to  shoot during the trip and how they might use this experience to become a better photographer. At the end of the critique, each student will be assigned a specific time to meet with Mary Ellen and Effi each morning.  Students will start shooting the next day. Every day, students will go out on their own to take pictures based on the assignments chosen between them and the instructors.

There will be a deadline each evening for everyone to turn in their film or digital files to have contacts made overnight.  Students can shoot either film or digital. Color film will be processed by a local Fuji Film Lab that porcess C-41. Students can also shoot Tri-X film, either 35mm or medium format, that will be process in The Reykjavik School of Visual Art's darkroom.  if students shoot digitally, they’ll have their contact sheets printed by the C-41 lab.  There will be a limit on the number of images each student can shoot each day depending on the size of the class.

Each evening, both photography and film students come together as a group for discussions. Mary Ellen, Effi, Martin, and Inga will show you some of their work.  Other Icelandic photographers and filmmakers will come as guest speakers to show their work also.

On the last day of the workshop there’ll be a final group critique of all students. Each student will show the edited work they’ve made over the course of the class. A selection will be made of the three or four best images from each student. These images will be displayed that evening in a local gallery along with the film students’ projects.  The photographs and films will also be compiled in a book that can be purchased after the class.  

who should attend?

This class is for photographers of all levels. This workshop will be a wonderful opportunity for everyone to become a better photographer, as well as experiencing Iceland a most personal way.


Attendees should bring their portfolio to the class for review. Prints only, no slides. Digital printouts are fine.  Each student is responsible for bringing their own camera and equipment, including a laptop for digital shooters.  Film shooters must bring their own film since film is difficult and expensive to purchase in Iceland.

terms and conditions

To reserve space in this workshop, a $500 per person deposit is required at the time of making the reservation. Deposits are due no later than 90 days prior to departure. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure unless indicated otherwise in the description of the tour or workshop. All payments must be made by credit card or wire transfer to Photo Xpeditions, LLC, and instructions for payments will be mailed upon confirmation of participation.

Photo Xpeditions reserves the right to cancel a reservation if full payment has not been received by 60 days prior to departure. For reservations made within 60 days of the departure date, full payment is required when the reservation is accepted. All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of the postmark. If you cancel 90 days or more prior to departure, a refund less an administrative fee equal to 50% of your deposit will be made. Per person charges for cancellations that occur less than 90 days prior to departure are as follows:
60–90 days prior to departure: 100% of your deposit amount; 
45–60 days prior to departure: 50% of the expedition cost; 
45 or fewer days prior to departure: 100% of the workshop cost.

Photo Xpeditions reservs the right of cancelling the workshop at any time if the minimum amount of students required for the workshop is not reached. If a workshop needs to be cancelled for this reason, a full refund will be given to all participants.