Visionary Wild, LLC • 2200 19th St. NW, Ste 806, Washington, DC 20009

E-mail:    •    Tel: 1-202-558-9596 (9am to 5pm, EST).

Justin Black – Managing Director: 1-202-302-9030 • Email:

Jennifer Woolley – Director of Operations • Email:

We look forward to hearing from you!


Limit 10 spaces | $5,995* Closed
Expedition May 3 - 14, 2012 | View other workshops

Grand Canyon by Raft with Jack Dykinga and Justin Black

Map via Google


What happens when a group of enthusiastic photographers join together for a 10-day raft trip through 226-miles of mind-bending Grand Canyon scenery and 1.75 billion years of geological history?

Here are some impressions that our friends from past trips have shared with one another:

The sand may be gone, but my mind is still in the Canyon. Thanks to you, Jack and Justin, for putting together this amazing experience. The Canyon is past wonder. I am sitting here working on the images and can’t seem to leave the river.

While I think I've finally gotten the sand out of all of my clothes, equipment and person, it will most definitely be a long time before I get the Grand Canyon sand out of my soul. I think Jack said it best when he said that the Grand Canyon was a special temple. It is awe-inspiring. I really enjoyed my time with you all, and hope to see all of you again on another Jack and Justin adventure.

About two days into the trip...I realized that I should enjoy the trip because it was just about as good as it gets. It was indeed. At this point, maybe it's enough to say that I actually miss the sand and I hope we all will continue to keep in touch.

Designed by Jack Dykinga and Justin Black, this trip absolutely maximizes photographic potential and overall quality of experience that can be had during ten days on the Colorado River in the mile-deep Grand Canyon.

* Note: Please click the "read more" tab below right for all the details, the image gallery, and National Park Service concessionaire compliance information.

Applying our experience of numerous Grand Canyon raft trips, and in collaboration with our hand-picked crews from Arizona Raft Adventures (AZRA), we've developed an itinerary that takes advantage of favorable spring conditions and sets us up for the best landings for photo excursions and camps along the river. This detailed planning and the expert skill of experienced boat crews we've worked with before are critical, because there's no going back upstream on the Colorado River.

This trip is scheduled for May, when water and wildflowers are in greater abundance, and daytime temperatures are a bit cooler than the rest of the river guiding season. Our itinerary starts in Flagstaff, Arizona, at the Radisson Woodlands hotel. The afternoon before our departure for the river, we will convene to get to know each other (and catch up with returning friends), and Jack will make an introductory presentation to get your creative juices flowing. This will be followed by an orientation by AZRA staff to go over the game plan, safety, answer questions, and distribute dry bags for packing your personal gear. We'll set off early the following morning for Lee's Ferry, where our raft and crew will be waiting for us at our launch point.

A little about the raft: We will use a 32-foot-long raft built around a strong aluminum frame with a below-deck cargo hold for important items that tolerate getting wet, like camp chairs and cans of beer. Personal gear and camera bags will be stored in drybags strapped to lockers on deck above the waterline. Two expert AZRA guides will crew our raft, which is equipped with a small, quiet four-stroke Honda motor for steering purposes. The motor is shut off as we drift with the current down the river in stretches of calm water. We will be running a great deal of whitewater, and where you sit in the raft will determine whether you get soaked or stay dry (or dryish). Getting soaked by a big splash is a great way to cool off, as is floating a rapid in your life vest, which the guides offer as an option on occasion and as safety conditions permit.

Once on the Colorado River, we quickly enter Marble Canyon and from there the canyon rim towers higher and higher as we pass through ever more ancient rock strata. From the raft, we'll take in the stunning mesas and rock formations all around us, watch bighorn sheep just a few meters away at the water's edge, marvel at condors soaring overhead, and watch the light and shade play across the water and reflect in hues of gold and red on the canyon walls. Each afternoon, we'll pull into riverside beaches, which will serve as our camps. These are selected in advance for group comfort and excellent photo opportunities close to camp in the evening, and to position us strategically to target the next morning's photography location.

As we arrive in camp each afternoon, we'll form a "bag line" as a team to unload personal gear and camp equipment from the raft to the beach. This group bonding experience is not to be underestimated. After that, we each locate our personal piece of Colorado River beach to put down our tarp, sleeping pad, pillow, sheet, and sleeping bag (all provided, as are tents, though no one seems to bother with them after a night or two). Then, while the boat crew prepares a fabulous and well-deserved dinner, Jack and Justin will lead photo sessions in the evening light. Otherwise, choices of camp activities are up to you. We'll gather the camp chairs in a circle to chat over a beer or glass of wine, have a rinse in the river as conditions permit, or just relax and enjoy the peace, solitude, and crystal clear night skies.

When our time on the river comes to an end, it will be too soon. We will have been away from computers, cell phones, and traffic for ten days. AZRA will pick us up at Diamond Creek for the trip back to the Radisson in Flagstaff, stopping off on old Route 66 at Delgadillos Snow Cap in Seligman for an obligatory milkshake (or two). After a proper shower and calls to loved ones to confirm that we've reemerged into civilization, we'll meet for a final group dinner with our boat crew. After breakfast the next morning, we'll meet to edit and project images for review and critique. Wrapping up by mid-afternoon, we'll say "until we meet again," and our merry band will part company with hard drives full of amazing images, heads full of incredible memories, spirits uplifted by the experience, and hearts just a little heavy that it's all over.

We hope you'll join us for this trip of a lifetime, especially if it's for the second time!

* NOTE: The raft-trip component of this package is operated through Arizona Raft Adventures, a National Park concessionaire. National Park Service rules require that we disclose and distinguish our  cost for the AZRA ten-day raft trip itself, which is $2840 per participant. The fee for the photographic workshop, the days prior to and following the AZRA raft trip, is $3,155. This includes instruction, critique, meals (beginning with dinner the night before the raft trip and ending with lunch the day after the raft trip), lodging in Flagstaff the night before and the night after the trip, as well as all taxes and gratuities. The total combined cost for the raft trip and workshop is $5,995 per person.

Jack Dykinga

Taste life and strive to make a difference.

Pulitzer Prize (1971 Feature Photography) winning photographer Jack Dykinga blends fine art photography with documentary photojournalism.  He is a regular contributor to Arizona Highways and National Geographic Magazines.  His ten wilderness advocacy, large format books include: Frog Mountain Blues, The Secret Forest, The Sierra Pinacate, The Sonoran Desert, Stone Canyons of the Colorado Plateau, and Desert: The Mojave and Death Valley.   He authored and photographed Large Format Nature Photography, a “how to” guide to color landscape photography.  Jack Dykinga’s ARIZONA, released in 2004 from Westcliffe Publishers, a compellation of Jack’s best Arizona images and: IMAGES:  Jack Dykinga’s Grand Canyon released by Arizona Highways, May 2008, reflect Jack’s love for Arizona. Jack’s latest books are highly educational and showcase his talents as a photographer: “Capture the Magic,” released November 2013, delves into composition and the creative process, and “A Photographer's Life: A Journey from Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photojournalist to Celebrated Nature Photographer," released January 2017, recounts the events and influences throughout his 50-year career that shaped the subject matter, style, and design in his art.

Dykinga’s fine art images were featured along with the work of Ansel Adams in an Arizona Highways Magazine retrospective shown at the Phoenix Art Museum, The Center for Creative Photography, and the Museum of Northern Arizona. 

Recent work includes:

Texas/Mexican border highlighting the biological diversity of protected areas along the Rio Grande River, appearing in the February 2007, National Geographic Magazine.

His illustration of the wilderness lands of Native American Tribes is featured in the August 2010 National Geographic.

Jack has donated his talents to the International Leagure of Conservation Photographer’s RAVEs (Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions) El Triunfo, Mexico, 2007; Balandra 2007, Baja Sur, Mexico; the Yucatan 2009, Yucatan, Mexico; the U.S./ Mexico Borderlands 2009, as well as the 2010 Patagonia, Chile RAVE and the September 2010 Great Bear RAVE in B.C. Canada.

In each case, Jack and teams of celebrated photographers from all over the world pooled their collective talents to highlight potential environmental degradation.

 In April 2010, Jack’s image: “Stone Canyon” was selected as one of the forty best Nature Photographs of all time by the International League of Conservation Photographers, and he received: The Outstanding Photographer of the Year Award from the Nature Photographers of North America in March 2011. He has recently been named the recipient of NANPA's 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.

He and his wife Margaret live in Tucson, Arizona.  His daughter Camille Bralts lives in Champaign-Urbana. His son Peter Dykinga lives in Tucson and manages Jack’s image collection.

Arizona PBS Interview with Jack:

An Interview with pre-digital Jack:

The Nature Conservancy's Director of Photography interviews Jack

National Geographic gallery of Jack's Native Lands project

Video: Profile of Jack Dykinga

Video: Interview with Jack Dykinga

Learning to See: an interview with Jack Dykinga

Visit Jack's website

Justin Black

JUSTIN BLACK is a photographer, writer, editor, expedition leader, photo workshops instructor, a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers (ILCW), and a former executive director of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). Since 2011 with Visionary Wild and for ten years at Galen Rowell's Mountain Light Photography, he has created inspiring and effective educational photographic experiences for thousands of passionate photographers. He is widely recognized as one of the world's leading photo workshops organizers.

A professional photographer since 1995 when he signed his first picture agency contract, before founding Visionary Wild he served the ILCP as Executive Director, and for seven years was General Manager and Curator of Mountain Light Gallery.

Justin's photographs have been published by magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, Sierra, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Rock & Ice, and Nature Conservancy among others. His work has also been published by major news outlets in print and online, and has been used in advertising for brands such as MasterCard, Patagonia, Nikon, and Fujifilm.

Among conservation NGOs that have used his photographs in their campaigns are World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, The Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Panthera, Land Trust Alliance, Earth Justice, The Wilderness Society, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, ILCP, and the Wild Foundation.

In 2017, he entered the world of motion pictures as an Executive Producer on the award-winning documentary film, Headhunt Revisited: With Brush, Canvas, and Camera, produced and directed by Michele Westmorland. Justin was invited to serve as a judge for the 2015 and 2017 Nature's Best Photography Africa competitions. He has also been an editor and contributor to numerous award-winning photo book projects, including Galen Rowell: A Retrospective; Freshwater: The Essence of Life; The Wealth of Nature: Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity, and Human Well-Being; Our National Parks: America's Natural Heritage; as well as Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey by Barbara Rowell. His limited edition fine prints are available through his portfolio website at

An early career as a travel photographer and image licensing specialist led him to Mountain Light Photography in the San Francisco Bay Area, founded by Galen Rowell – a world-renowned National Geographic photographer, author, and mountaineer – and his wife and business partner, Barbara Cushman Rowell. Beginning in May of 1999, Justin managed marketing of the Rowell image collection, assisted Galen on assignments and in his workshop program, and taught seminars on nature photography. In April 2002, the Rowells invited Justin to relocate with them to California's scenic Owens Valley as Mountain Light's General Manager. Justin eagerly embraced his new responsibility, along with the sublime Eastern Sierra Nevada landscape as his new home.

Four months later, Galen and Barbara perished in the crash of a chartered plane, leaving behind a tremendous creative and visionary vacuum. Justin went to work, building on the impressive Rowell legacy to reinvigorate Mountain Light by establishing a seasonal series of guest photographer exhibitions, expanding the image collection, and relaunching the highly acclaimed photo workshop program through collaboration with Galen's leading professional peers, including Frans Lanting, Pat O'Hara, Jack Dykinga, John Shaw, David Muench, and Jeff Foott. In May 2008, Justin's successful efforts were recognized by both Sunset and American Photo magazines, as each magazine featured editorial recommendations of his workshop program at Mountain Light.

After ten years with Mountain Light, Justin was recruited to take over the position of Executive Director of ILCP, a non-profit association of the best photographers worldwide working in the field of environmental and cultural conservation. At ILCP, Justin oversaw an explosion of productivity in expeditions, publishing, multimedia production, and the achievement of successful conservation outcomes. He contributed photographic coverage to ILCP's Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions (RAVE) program, including Flathead Valley (Canada, 2009), Yucatán (Mexico, 2009), and Chesapeake (USA, 2010), as well as a solo project for The Nature Conservancy, documenting the Dragon Run wetland on Virginia's Middle Peninsula. One of Justin's photographs from the Flathead River project appeared as a section opener in the Vancouver Sun newspaper – the first time the threatened watershed received significant coverage in that nationally important media outlet.  The photograph was later selected by the United States Senate for display in the U.S. Capitol Building, as Canada and the USA reached an agreement to protect the Flathead.

Justin left his position at ILCP in late 2010 to establish Visionary Wild, building on his successful leadership of the Mountain Light workshop program and applying expertise gained at ILCP to provide superlative workshops and expeditions for passionate photographers seeking to advance to the next level of creativity, quality, purpose, and meaning in their work. His own work continues to evolve in new directions, driven by the ongoing search for extraordinary qualities in our world's dynamic landscapes.

Justin lives in Washington, DC, with his brilliant wife, Lena, and their children Philippe and Alexandra.

Justin Black's limited editions portfolio

Justin's Outdoor Photographer Profile

Bringing focus and meaning to your photography

The Top 40 Nature Photos Project

Justin's Conservation Photography Projects


Justin’s Camera Bag

After using an array of 4x5, medium format, and 35mm film cameras in the first two decades of his career, Justin fully embraced digital cameras in 2010. His current gear includes Nikon DSLRs and Fujifilm mirrorless systems.


Fujifilm Medium Format Mirrorless:

GFX 50S camera

23mm f/4 GF Fujinon

32-64 f/4 GF Fujinon

120mm f/4 GF Fujinon


Nikon DSLR:

Nikon D810 cameras (x2)

24mm f/3.5 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

45mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

85mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

24mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

35mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

50mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

85mm f/1.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

200mm f/4 AF-D Micro-Nikkor

500mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor

18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G AF-S ED Nikkor

24-70mm f/2.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

70-200mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR Nikkor

200-400mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR Nikkor

Nikon TC-14EII teleconverter

Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter

Nikon SB-900 flash

Nikon SB-700 flash

Assorted Nikon TTL flash cables


Fujifilm APS-C Mirrorless:

X-Pro2 Cameras (x2)

14mm f/2.8 XF Fujinon

23mm f/2 XF Fujinon

35mm f/1.4 XF Fujinon

50mm f/2 XF Fujinon

18-55mm f/2.8-4 XF Fujinon

55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 XF Fujinon


Filters and Light Modifiers

Nikon Circular Polarizer II

Singh-Ray Vari-ND

Tiffen WW IRND neutral density filters

Photoflex reflectors and diffusers

Lumiquest soft boxes

Rogue Flashbender

Rosco gels



Really Right Stuff TVC-24L with leveling base and Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead or Arca-Swiss D4 geared head

Gitzo 1028 with RRS BH-25 ballhead


Photo Packs

MindShift Backlight 36L

MindShift Backlight 26L

Mindshift FirstLight 30L

MindShift Rotation 180 Pro

Mindshift Rotation 180 Horizon

Mindshift Rotation 180 Panorama

ThinkTank Airport Addicted V2.0

ThinkTank Urban Disguise 50 V2.0



  • Ten days and 226 miles down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, traveling past layer after layer of rock strata from 250 million to 1.75 billion years old
  • Photographic mentoring and guiding by Jack Dykinga and Justin Black
  • Morning and evening photo sessions each day at amazing locations along the way
  • Expert AZRA boat crew who we know and respect deeply, and who understand our photographic priorities
  • Excellent catering (you'll be amazed what our crew can whip up a week into a trip)
  • A truly excellent group bonding experience
  • The awesome sensation of intimately exploring one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. We use the word “awesome” in its fullest and most correct sense.

Accommodations & Travel

Single-occupancy lodging is included the night before and the night after the raft trip, at the Radisson Woodlands hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Each night during the expedition on the river, we will offload our personal gear, camp chairs, and group camp equipment from the rafts and make camp on the beach. The boat crew cooks up excellent meals that will leave you satisfied. Sleeping kits, including a ground tarp, sleeping pad, sheet, sleeping bag, and pillow, are provided, as are two drybags for your personal gear (you will need to bring your own drybag for your camera bag). Tents are available for those who request them, but on Grand Canyon raft trips everyone seems to end up sleeping al fresco with the sound of the river and the canyon breeze to lull us to sleep.

airplane iconcar iconboat iconfoot iconweather icon
Fly into Flagstaff, AZ (FLG) If you arrive by air, taxi and hotel shuttle service is available to the Radisson Woodlands Hotel. Other than that, transportation during the trip is included. Personal vehicles may be parked at the Radisson for the duration of the trip. Ten days on a 32-foot raft traveling 226 miles downriver, with carefully planned landings for photography, and camps on beaches along the river. Hikes into side canyons at landings along the way. These will generally be no more than a mile, mostly much less. For the most part the hiking is easy, though accessing certain spots can involve steep uphill sections, the occassional scramble, and somewhat precarious footing in places. A reasonable level of fitness and ability to hike rugged, undeveloped terrain while carrying your photo gear is required. High temperatures on the river in May average 92ºF, with lows averaging 63ºF in the early morning hours. The river water will be around 55ºF.


Come expecting a world-class opportunity for photography and learning, and leave with incredible images plus deeply moving memories of a holistic experience of tranquility, camaraderie, fun, and adventure.