There can come a time in your photographic career where you fear coming full circle. You start making the same photographs that keep you busy but lack meaning. Breaking the cycle required inspiration I found with Visionary Wild and its 2023 Kyrgyzstan photo expedition. Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous country that is virtually unknown or unfairly mistaken for a hostile region (it’s the exact opposite) offers spectacular alternatives to what was becoming a chore for image making. I can go on about the breathtaking vistas and the uncompromising feeling of spirit and natural wonder but I specifically found comfort in the exceptionally good logistical support and infrastructure with meals and accommodations. A modern-day wagon train of 4-wheel-drive SUVs providing all the necessities needed so you can concentrate on what’s really important; making photographs!!!! Visionary Wild is a class act with a passion to inspire and explore and I have the images to prove it. –Ronald Beverly, Professor of Photography, Montgomery College, Maryland (2023 Kyrgyz Republic Expedition participant)

I wanted to thank you for a great trip to Antarctica in early January and let you know how much I appreciated all the work you put in behind the scenes to make a trip like that go smoothly. Having put on some trail races in the past, I have a little experience of how much goes into organizing events. Considering the length of trip, language differences, regulatory obstacles and other complexities you deal with to put on international trips, I have a lot of respect for what you accomplish.

You once asked me if the trip met my expectations and I was totally sincere in saying that it definitely exceeded them.

  • The scenery was so immense and stunningly beautiful; much more impressive than I ever expected.
  • There was ample time on shore to see wildlife, geology, etc. up close and explore a little.
  • I think the weather exceeded everyone’s expectations.
  • The crew did an excellent job of making me feel both comfortable and secure. Having been on several kayak and raft trips, I tend to watch the guides to see if they are operating in a safe manner, and I always felt the crew of the Hans Hannson was careful without being overbearingly cautious. In fact, they performed their due diligence in such an unobtrusive way that they seemed much more casual than they were.
  • The food was great. When I considered the amount of planning and effort [the chef] put into the quality of food she prepared while accommodating all the various dietary restrictions and supplying such a remote location, I was really amazed at the terrific job she did.
  • The boat met my informal style of travel quite comfortably. I’m actually glad that I didn’t bother with spending the extra money for a private bath because the ones “downstairs” were fine for me.

For me, the highlight of the trip was the afternoon when we sat off the toe of the glacier and [the captain] shut off the engine. It was so beautiful and serene there. That afternoon definitely joins my collection of “if I could put time in a bottle” experiences in life.
Thanks again for a rewarding, memorable and worthwhile experience, Justin. You did a great job and I really appreciated the opportunity you created for me.
Warm regards, Ellen (2024 Antarctica participant)

Of the 8 or 9 photo workshops I have taken of all varieties, this was clearly the best—by a wide margin.  I’m on the  Visionary “prowl” for next year. – George A., 2019 Death Valley Workshop participant

My trip to Torres Del Paine with Visionary Wild was wonderful on many levels. First, the park and its surroundings are spectacularly beautiful and also have lots of interesting wildlife and birds. A perfect place for a landscape photographer, but also excellent for wildlife. Second, Justin Black and Michael Melford were excellent leaders. They were friendly and welcoming, in addition to being very helpful on photographic matters. Their experience got us to the right places at the right times. I also feel that I learned a number of things that will help my photography.  Third, our local guides were also very friendly and helpful. They realized that I was interested in birds (as well as landscapes) and helped me find a number of interesting species. Logistics were handled in a manner that was seamless to participants.  And, on top of it all, the food and wine were great. I highly recommend this trip. –Bill W., 2019 Torres del Paine participant

Our journey to the inner highlands of Iceland in September 2017 was beyond anything we could have imagined. Every day was unique and awe-inspiring, featuring starkly beautiful landscapes of volcanic rock and glacial ice. We would highly recommend Visionary Wild for serious photographers; traveling with experienced guides who shared our passion to explore and photograph the world was invigorating, educational – and tremendous fun. The mentorship and organizational planning from our group leaders, Justin Black and Chris Linder, was truly world class. We are already planning our next adventures with Visionary Wild!

-Ray M. and Leona D. B.

Thank you for one of the best trips we have experienced! The Galapagos was incredible! The combination of Art, Frans, Tom, Justin, the wonderful crew of the Eclipse and the talented, gregarious co-passengers created the perfect storm!

―Bernadette F., 2016 Galapagos participant

Visionary Wild trips are the best workshops for the serious photographer. Well planned, unusual locations, renowned photographers, geared toward helping the participants grow in their skills, great accommodations and meals. These trips are all-inclusive making them not only about photography but forming life long relationships. –J. Furber, regular client

I have to say that was the best trip ever!!!!!  So many great photos and a really great group…  I would love to go back, but I think the mark that was set would be hard to beat. ―Julie F., 2015 Polar Bears Eye-to-Eye participant and regular client

Thank you for another fantastic VW expedition! What a privilege to experience and photograph this wild and remote area in comfort while accompanied by the best leaders offering a wealth of experience and a willingness to share their immense talents. Thanks to Justin’s meticulous advance planning, all the arrangements were perfect throughout. –David & Kathy R., 2015 Greenland participants

You are expert at what you do; I really appreciate all your well-thought out and organized trips and your always generous help.  I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel/photograph with Visionary Wild.  Thank you. –Ann L., 2015 Greenland Participant and repeat client

Justin Black is a wonderful photographer, an excellent workshop organizer and leader, and just a really nice human being. I’ve been in three workshops and trips that Justin organized and led, and from my participant’s perspective they all ran flawlessly. He’s an excellent sounding board in the field and during image reviews, with sincere interest and cogent advice. You just can’t ask for more. –Mark G.

Thank you once again for the workshop at Boulder Mountain. The lodging proved excellent (comfortable and spacious); food, delicious; leadership, experienced, knowledgable, and gracious. You, Jack, and John led us to excellent locations with ample opportunities for photography. Who could ask for more? –Frank K., 2014 participant

The Africa trip was one of the best I have been on. I learned so much. The facilities were top-notch, vehicles and boats were specially equipped for photographers, and to top it off the food was great! Thank you for putting together an interesting, educational, and fun trip for all of us. I have recommended this trip so I hope you will continue to offer it.”

–Ruth K., 2013 African Vision Safari Participant


My brother and I attended the 5-day Boulder, Utah, workshop with Justin and Jack Dykinga. We learned so much about improving our field work, how to better utilize our cameras in the field, and great post-processing instruction in Lightroom. The locations were amazing, and both instructors were always available to answer questions and to support our experience. On top of that, the logistics and catering were top notch! All in all, a week we will remember and benefit from for a long time to come! Thanks!

Having attended many, many workshops over my years, I find that I have learned more with Visionary Wild workshops and am anxious to return to another. – Julia H., 2013 participant

Justin, just a quick note to tell you I enjoyed the Catalina workshop very much. Despite my attendance at three workshops in the last two years, I continue to learn valuable information from you, Jack, and John on how to improve my images. I found the critique sessions very valuable as a tool in understanding design. Keeping the composition simple, focusing on design elements before shooting, and vigilance and patience for the best light really is impactful when fully implemented. As usual, the attendees were respectful and very interesting. All in all an enjoyable four days. -Rick C., 2014 Participant

It was wonderful with a marvelous group of photographers.  Your trips are the best! –Suzanne D., 2014 Participant and repeat client

Justin, I just finished reading your article for Outdoor Photographer.  I have to say it’s the most intelligent and comprehensive article I have ever seen about preparing for a photo trip.  I really believe this should be encouraged reading for any photographer going on any trip.  So much insightful information and having met Galen several times I can really see his influence on you. Thank you so much for sending it to all of us. –Vaughn H., 2014 Jaguars of the Pantanal participant.

Your knowledge regarding location, composition, and willingness to help at any time was exemplary. Just keep on doing it like you are presently running the workshops. Compared to feedback I have heard from some of my friends regarding other workshops yours are far superior. Instructors are down to earth, very knowledgable, teaching in ways that make the subject understandable. Knowledgable instructors, generous with their time, experience with the field location selected, guaranteed to improve your artistic talents and love of photography. –Paul H., Valley of Fire workshop participant

This was the experience of a lifetime. Visionary Wild provided a terrific photo safari. The educational value of this workshop was unparalleled, and I have participated in many workshops. Justin Black and Lou Coetzer were both terrific in facilitating the photography learning experience and in finding the best locations to maximize the opportunities. The critiques were absolutely perfect – we learned from critiques of our own images as well as participating in the reviews of everyone else’s photographs. The cost was well worth it – the experience provided was far superior to standard safaris. I will take another expedition with Justin soon, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Visionary Wild to anyone who desires to improve photography in a first class environment, detailed planning and education, and superb photo opportunities. – Kathy, 2013 African Vision participant

Absolutely, positively the best photographic workshop. The combination of Jack’s vision and emphasis on creative composition, John Shaw’s technical skills, both with capture and processing, and Justin’s organizational talents are unique and make this workshop a must for a photographers wanting to improve. -Tom B., regular client

This is the absolute best when it comes to  photography workshops.  You will get the best locations, a well thought out program, and the best outdoor photographers in the world.  But the real glue of the operation – the thing that keeps it consistently excellent – is Justin Black.  I have attended workshops run by Justin since he was the manager of Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light photography studio in Bishop, California and have participated in probably 10 workshops through Mountain Light and now Visionary Wild.  Justin knows how to provide a workshop that is interesting and useful for the most experienced photographers while at the same time making less experienced photographers feel right at home and provide a learning experience for everyone.  And you can be sure that every detail will be taken care of, from lodging to the plan to catch the best light on every day of the workshop. –Bob B.

The workshop in Boulder, Utah was the best workshop I have ever attended. The combination of field work and classroom sessions provided a nice balance, and the participant critiques enabled everyone to learn from one another’s work. Great location; great instructors. I would highly recommend Visionary Wild to anyone who is serious about nature photography. – Steve A., 2012 participant

I’ve taken two workshops with Justin, and both were amazing. He’s got a great knack for keeping workshops fun and informative. A rare combination of personal photographic talent and ability to teach to others–regardless of experience–makes Justin’s workshops fantastic. – Kelly O.

I have attended several workshops organized and led by Justin. I found them to be extremely worthwhile, productive, educational and fun! The knowledge I gained about many aspects of photography has been instrumental in building my skills, vision, and business. I would (and have) highly recommend any photographer who is serious about improving their skills in this wonderful craft to strongly consider any workshop provided by Justin Black. – Dan H.

This was my best photography workshop experience, by FAR. The professional instructors where extremely approachable and giving of their time and honest and direct feedback and advice, and luckily they just happen to be nice people. I learned a LOT and broke through some personal barriers on a quest to the next level of image-making. The workshop was fast-paced and JAM-packed with opportunities to learn and participate, and it was FUN. If you are serious about taking and processing the best images possible, Visionary Wild has a great balance of field work and classroom sessions that includes instruction and critiques. And they don’t cut corners in terms of comfort and dining! I write this review with some trepidation as I don’t want all the sessions to immediately fill and lock me out…but I want to try to be a nice, honest and good person too. –Bruce L., 2012 participant

It’s difficult not to heap superlative praise on Jack Dykinga and Justin Black for their photographic expertise and their absolute willingness to share that expertise with the rest of us.  They are truly visionaries in the landscape photography world, and their love of the Grand Canyon is infectious, and are a lot of fun to be around. –Chuck T., 2012 Grand Canyon raft trip participant

Click here to read Chuck’s blog about our 2012 Grand Canyon by Raft photo expedition

Justin has been great on previous trips whether based in Bishop, California or on a Grand Canyon rafting trip. Everything has been so well organized from transportation to meals to day-to-day itineraries. – Mike D.

I have been on several trips with Justin and would be thrilled to attend another…he’s an outstanding host and teacher. –Jim M.

Your work has proven itself to be very good. We are glad to support you and your organization. Please keep us updated as you know where and what to shoot that is good. We trusted you when you worked with Galen and do so now as he trusted you. Thank you for stepping out on your own. You deserve it and your work speaks great volumes. – Rob O.

When my nature photography needed a kick start after a decade of care-management for family elders I chose a workshop with Justin in Owens Valley. I was thrilled when another workshop with him in Lake Tahoe was announced. That second project propelled my desire to emerge as an artist with something to say. Following his advice continues to be important to my development. – Carl W.

Justin’s enthusiasm for what he does in addition to his genuine interest in the locales that his workshops visit cannot be understated. Visionary Wild workshops are a must do for any serious photographer with a love for nature, travel, conservation and environmental photography. –Eric B., 2012 participant

I have been on several trips that Justin has organized. These trips are consistently well run, everything goes smoothly. This makes for not only a very enjoyable workshop but a great learning environment. – Julie F.

Justin, I’m glad that you are planning to get back into the workshop arena.  The Mountain Light workshops that I attended while you were at the helm were some of the best I have experienced. –Steve C.

I have attended nearly twenty photography workshops with Justin Black, and keep coming back. I can strongly recommend his photographic and leadership skills. – Wally R.

This was my second Catalina [State Park, Arizona] workshop, having participated last year. I found it so useful that I signed up again. The combination of Jack Dykinga’s vision and emphasis on creative composition and John Shaw’s technical skills, both with capture and processing, are unique and make this workshop a must for a photographers wanting to improve. –Tom B., 2012 participant

Having traveled to 5 continents, I can honestly state the Grand Canyon river trip was the best photo trip I have ever taken. Every bend of the river offered new sights and having Jack and Justin leading you to the best sights in the best light was awesome. Their constant availability was priceless. Just go do it! –Paul H., 2012 Participant

The best workshop which I have attended–in every respect. John Shaw, Jack Dykinga and Justin Black worked together to give the nine participants the best preparatory tips and assistance in the field followed by step by step photographic technique and workflow in both Lightroom and Photoshop. A daily positive critique of a number of shots taken by participants during the field outings and suggestions on how we could improve their quality both in camera and later in processing programs was extensively covered. The lodging, conference facilities, catering and dining in the area was also excellent.  –Suzanne D., 2012 participant

The workshop last week was extremely enjoyable & enlightening. The location, field & class room instruction, image reviews, fellow participants, & leaders were all top notch. In particular, the emphasis on the crafting of an image was crucially helpful for me, and this is now an essential step for my pre-visualization. I suspect that I did indeed get some of the best landscape images I’ve ever taken thank to the two of you. This workshop puts VW at the top of my list for landscape workshops. Thanks, Jack & Justin. –Carl Z., 2012 participant

Justin has a mellow personality which adds tremendously to the atmosphere of the event. He is superbly knowledgeable about all facets of photography, is a very willing teacher and individualizes the level of help and instruction to each participant as needed. In addition, Justin has established a large network of fellow professionals through his environmental efforts. I would attend one of his workshops in a heartbeat. – Scott O.

Attending the workshop with Justin Black and Jack Dykinga in Boulder, Utah was a high point in my photographic learning experience. I have never been to a workshop presented as well as this one. The way Jack and Justin worked together in the classrooms and critiques was masterful. The critiques were done on raw files with Lightroom and Photoshop, which gave real critical insight into how we could improve our images, and also process them… It would be hard to improve on a workshop of this level. –Al W., 2012 participant

I’ve had the pleasure of attending several workshops that were co-instructed by Justin Black. Justin is not only a fine photographer, but compassionate, knowledgeable and well-organized. I learned a lot in Justin’s workshops and enjoyed the experience. – Paul H.

I selected this workshop as I wanted to improve my “creative eye”. I was most interested in being able to repeatedly return to a location and re-shoot a scene learning how to handle the difficulties we often face when trying to compose an image. I liked that it wasn’t held at a well known location where getting the “iconic” photograph was the main focus but was about creating an “iconic” image in a beautiful location where there are no preconceived ideas of what that image “should be.” Being able to return to the same location multiple times and working the scene was really helpful in advancing my photographic skills. The daily critiques of participants images combined with how to process those images in Lightroom and Photoshop was invaluable. This has been one of my best learning experiences in advancing my skills and also the one of the most enjoyable. Visionary Wild has put together a truly unique workshop that any photographer who wants to improve their skills should take. –Julie F., 2012 participant

I have attended several workshops over the years by multiple companies that offer these services. The ones that Justin was involved in were by far the most organized, best run workshops that I have attended. This is testimony to the attention to detail and understanding and accommodation of various photographic disciplines that Justin has to offer in organizing and running a workshop. – Eric B.

The workshops I have attended that have been organized or led by Justin Black have always been well-planned and exceptionally executed, but most importantly, they have been a joy to participate in and have helped me immensely in improving my photographic skills in tangible, concrete ways. – Peter T.

A dream journey is behind us… The photographic travel company Visionary Wild from the USA under the direction of Lena and Justin Black had offered the trip for ambitious and enthusiastic photographers… Antarctica is not a classic tourist resort. It requires high demands of the organization of the trip and preparation of travelers, and this was done perfectly by Visionary Wild. –Dr. Diether Schenkel and Agnes Schenkel (Click here for their full trip report)

I’ve done much of my best work during workshops that you have run.  Just the right combination of great locations and instruction. – Tom S.

So, this was my fifth visit to Antarctica, and third as a tourist, and this time it was pretty intense. Sharing the small ship Hans Hansson with 9 other passengers, 2 guides and 6 crew is a lot more intimate than a cruise ship or research vessel. And the flexibility of a small ship meant reaching little visited locations, and also visiting more popular spots outside of regular hours. With up to three three to four hour landings per day, over 12 days, what little downtime we had was very welcome. The ship is owned and operated by Quixote Expeditions, and was chartered by Visionary Wild. Both companies showed the highest level of professionalism and dedication to excellence, both before and during the trip, with all staff and crew being very friendly and approachable.

Without really wanting to single anybody out, I have to mention Justin Black, founder of Visionary Wild. Justin is a model of what every phototour leader should aspire to. Apart from, incidentally, being an excellent photographer, he was a fantastic leader, always available to help with anything, keeping everybody safe but unconstrained, and proactively ensuring that everybody was happy. His co-leader, Daisy Gilardini, a photographer with well over 20 Antarctic tours to her name, was equally supportive, and in particular able to lend her expertise to the enthusiastic, if not obsessive wildlife photographers that made up 8/10ths of the clientele.

Hi Justin, I still think about the Tucson workshop frequently. Really enjoyed it! I’ve read your articles in Outdoor Photographer and have been eyeing your new workshops. Hope to see you sometime again. Thanks for a great time in Arizona. –Nancy R., 2012 Vision Workshop participant

Justin Black, a founder and the leader of Visionary Wild contacted a volcanologist after reading of a recent volcanic eruption on the “Fire and Ice” island of Iceland. Acting on impulse, with no guarantee how long such eruptions would continue, he offered to arrange an expedition to visit and photograph the ultimate geological spectacle….an erupting, lava spewing volcano. Justin’s instincts proved right and he quickly recruited a merry band of six who were treated to an experience that defies a verbal description.

I’ll leave it to others to provide the myriad of adjectives in an attempt to characterize the incredible visions of the eruptions. From my perspective, what we witnessed on several visits to the ridges overlooking the volcano were sights, sounds and feelings that transcended photography. We were immersed in what could be interpreted as the primordial planet earth; truly, in my opinion, a pilgrimage to another time. It was, and will remain, the most moving and emotional experience of my travels……and only because Justin took the risk. –Ray U., 2021 Erupting Iceland participant, and repeat Visionary Wild client.