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 12 spaces | $2,995* Closed
Advanced July 8 - 12, 2012 | View other workshops

Olympic with Terry Donnelly, Mary Liz Austin and Justin Black

Map via Google

The Olympic Peninsula offers an astonishing array of landscapes and micro-climates in a relatively compact area. From its dramatic rocky coast and tidal pools, to old-growth temperate rainforest, to alpine meadows, glaciated peaks, and vast wilderness, it seems to have it all. Marine fog pours through mountain passes, filling inland valleys while ridge-top meadows in full bloom bask in the sun. Roosevelt elk bugle in the lush forest, home to some of the world's largest trees. The snowcapped splendor of the Olympic Mountains provides a constant backdrop. No one knows this majestic place better than the award-winning photographic team of Terry Donnelly and Mary Liz Austin.

Click the "read more..." tab below right to continue and see the photo gallery.

Scheduled during the summer wildflower season, our morning and evening field time will be used well at locations within comfortable range of our basecamp, the waterfront Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles.

This Advanced workshop deals heavily with advanced composition, previsualization, anticipation, planning for changing light and weather, and shooting with post-processing tools in mind. During excursions led by Terry, Mary, and Visionary Wild founder Justin Black (all three instructors are with the group throughout), ample time will be dedicated to photography in the field. This is a generalist outdoor photography workshop and the emphasis of any individual participant's work is up to them, whether they wish to focus on landscape, macro, wildlife (as the opportunity presents itself), abstraction, color, black and white, HDR, panoramics, multiple exposures, or all of the above. Photographers who are comfortable with technical fundamentals, understand basic digital workflow, and are generally competent image makers but who are looking to improve their seeing, composition, conceptual development, and preparedness for fast-changing conditions will feel right at home in this workshop. We supply materials in advance of the session to get everyone up to speed on the area we'll be working in, essential technical information, and other guidelines to ensure that everyone is ready to make the most of the experience.

The workshop includes field sessions, classroom lectures and ample hands-on instruction, honest and constructive critiques, single-occupancy lodging (prorated fee available for double-occupancy or for those who do not require lodging), all meals and drinks, and transportation to field sessions via two group vans. Justin Black of Visionary Wild will be present to serve as assistant instructor and to ensure everything runs smoothly. All three instructors will be present to teach and mentor students throughout the workshop.

We will meet on the afternoon of July 8th and field sessions begin that evening. We will photograph during magic-hour light morning and evening, and in the rainforest in overcast conditions. Between field sessions, we will reconvene at basecamp for projected lectures and critique. Thursday morning will be the final field session, followed by critique until we adjourn at 2:00 pm.

Terry Donnelly

I feel that to be successful, one must feel passionately about the subject and be driven to express that passion.

Husband / wife photography team Terry Donnelly and Mary Liz Austin live on Vashon Island in the heart of Puget Sound in Washington. For close to two decades they have traveled extensively in North American national parks and the American countryside.

Recent international travels include Nova Scotia, Ireland, Tuscany, the Caribbean and other tropical locations. In their photographs, they seek to capture those elusive conditions which reveal the mystery and grandeur of nature.

Donnelly and Austin have six books using exclusive collections of their photographs. Their images also appear in numerous calendars, books and cards by Sierra Club, Audubon, Barnes and Noble, American Greetings, Hallmark, National Geographic Books, Outside Magazine, Reiman Publications, and Brown Trout Publishers.

Terry and Mary are gifted workshop leaders with a faithful following, but are only able to make available limited time for teaching. At present they are only teaching through Visionary Wild and the Yellowstone Association.

Terry Donnelly Q & A

What motivates your work?

I am motivated by a desire to be present in the world and see it in a new way; a way that is creative to me. It is a quest for discovery. An equal part of that motivation is to capture and express that vision. I would be content if I could express my emotional reaction with words (hate that), a brush (tried that) or music (tried that too and it’s a close second) but I’ve found photography to be a very satisfying medium since the mid 1970’s.

So for me, photography is a way of journaling, recording my travels, my experiences, observations of life in general. On a deeper level I find it quite useful as a measure of my personal growth and of the depth of my understanding.

Plus, I cannot not do it; it is integral part of my life experience.

I am immediately drawn to subject matter revealing the mystery and beauty of the natural world however, I am fascinated to explore the harmonic interactions between culture and environment; sometimes it is harmonic, sometimes it’s “nature bats last”.

What skills or qualities are most important to the success of your work?
Close observation, awareness, attention to detail and the control of all technical aspects which facilitates expression. I feel that to be successful, one must feel passionately about the subject and be driven to express that passion.

What was your biggest break professionally?

My first decade of photography was spent developing my vision and technique for creating and exhibiting black and white fine art prints. When, in the early 80’s I discovered that changing my 4x5 film holders from Tri-X to Ektachrome opened doors to a well-funded publishing world, my passion for photography became a fulltime profession.

While this change of film created a full time professional involvement in image making, it also created a gap between my personal and professional endeavors. While both are expressive bodies of work and they do influence each other, I’ve found a much wider and lucrative audience in the publishing world with “commercial” images and simultaneously, my “personal” work has been un-tethered from the quest to sell. This is a fine win-win. It raises the issue of the role of an audience in our work, but that’s another story.

My images are marketed in conjunction with Mary Liz Austin via Donnelly-Austin Photography and featured in numerous calendars, books, cards and magazines as well as corporate reports and brochures for environmental organizations and wildlife protection agencies. Clients include Sierra Club, Audubon, Hallmark, National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, National Geographic, National Wildlife Federation, American Art Resources, Brown Trout Publishers, Horizon and Alaska Air Magazines.

How do you break out of a creative block?

One huge advantage of living and traveling with a world class photographer in the person of Mary Liz Austin, is that if I am having a bad eye day or just not resonating with a particular location I can dependably look through her viewfinder and see what a true creative mind will do in that given situation. Wonderful lessons for me. While that experience does hold the potential to devastate to my morale, the real lesson is to relax with the knowledge that slumps are temporary and that the harder you try to dig your way out, the longer they last.

Who are your most significant photographic influences and why?

Invariably students will answer this question by citing St. Ansel, the Westons, Elliott Porter, maybe Cartier-Bresson, Ruth Bernard or even Wright Morris. It is vital to be familiar with the work of these historic photographers; they have created the framework within which we all operate. However, it’s of equal importance to be aware of contemporary photographers working among us today. We are working in a completely changed technological and cultural environment than that of our iconic heroes. To be unaware of how living photographers are using this evolving technology, exploring the creative and perceptive envelope is a huge loss.

My influences are the above mentioned historic icons, and more importantly, examples of the best working photographers today include:

Charles Cramer,

George Ward,

Carr Clifton,

Jeff Foott,

Lori Kinkaid,

Michael Frye,

Jason Langer,

and yes, ...Jack,

This stuff all ROCKS! Any photographer unmoved by the work of these people should seriously reconsider their medium of expression.

The criteria for photographers making my list are that they are actively seeking creative, dynamic ways of seeing and communicating visually; they are immersed in our medium and they are taking it someplace new.

My list is pretty long and I like to peruse web sites on a regular basis just to see what’s happening. It can be pretty disappointing at times - as well as inspiring.

Of all the places you've photographed, where would you most like to go back again?

This is another long list and, like my list of photographic influences, it grows with time. Places making the list are those in which I’ve photographed and discovered an unusual personal connection or energy. My desire to return grows from a desire to become more intimate with that place, to observe its light, to watch how the seasons progress, to discover its many guises.

As an example, there is a specific location in Yellowstone National Park on an overlook of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. I’ve been there at least a dozen times in all seasons looking at a view of a collection of trees and rock watching the light bounce and reflect in the orange canyon backlighting the pine trees. It’s an amazing show. One of the most joyous moments of my life was discovering that it absolutely glows best in full sun at 10:15 on a late June morning. A marvelous moment! After photographing I couldn’t walk away from it; I just had to continue watching. The light and intense glow only lasts about 20 minutes and then it’s gone as the sun rises higher.

I am thinking about taking that one off my list. But I’d welcome the chance to watch it again!

Another fascinating aspect of going back to any location is to observe how I react to those places over time. Those locations become milestones and measure of my growth and evolution as an expressive photographer.

Why are you excited to be working with Visionary Wild?

Justin’s approach in designing VW activities emphasizes a thoughtful approach, creativity and personal growth. A rather brave business plan in a photo world obsessed with the latest and greatest software, lens, camera, sensor array, bean-bag mount, etc. And then, my god, I wanted to cheer when I saw a “recommended reading list”!!!

What are your greatest strengths as a teacher and workshop leader?

My teaching assets relate to my experience and passion for photography coupled with a strong desire to save others from some of the circuitous paths I’ve taken and the mistakes I’ve made. I guess empathy is part of the equation.

What are your favorite things about teaching?

I love the challenge of determining the level of competence and the specific interests of the participants and then tailoring my presentation in a manner that will best fulfill their needs. That is one of the most enjoyable parts of teaching photography. I see my teaching role as an improvisational endeavor. I have a full kit of instructional tools but they are seldom employed or presented the same way twice.

Another reward for an me as an instructor is watching a person conceive and hold a new concept, discovering there are infinite ways to interpret a specific place and that the their vision comes from within. Helping people with technical problems is rewarding, but for me the real joy relates to opening pathways to visual expression. That for me is watching the lightbulb turning on, the bat hitting the ball, the wind filling a trimmed sail.

What do you think is the most important role for (your) photography today?

Rising above today’s visual clutter, there are many vital ways in which photography influences our world: affecting social change, advocating for, and informing environmental issues, etc. However I feel photography’s under utilized potential exists in its role as a personal endeavor; I believe it to be a great tool for self-examination and awareness. While very few photographers have the necessary talent or the access to venues affecting change on a massive scale, any photographer with a conscious approach can use the medium to enhance personal growth and enrichment. It is that “conscious approach” I seek to cultivate in my photographic relationships.

Terry Donnelly interview:

Podcast #37 Photographic Vision


Terry has had six books published featuring his photography, the first two using solely his own images and the final four created in conjunction with his partner Mary Liz Austin:

• Heaven on Earth, Abbeville Press Publishers ©1999

• Seattle, Beautiful America, ©1999

• Washington, the Spirit of the Land, Voyageur Press © 1999

• Oregon, Preserving the Spirit and Beauty of Our Land, Voyageur Press © 2003

• California Wild, Preserving the Spirit and Beauty of Our Land, Voyageur Press © 2004

• Wild Seattle, A Celebration of the Natural Areas in and around the City, Sierra Club Books © 2004

Selected Honors and Awards

1999 First Place Pictorial Photograph, Excellence in Journalism Competition by The Society of Professional Journalists

2000 Benjamin Franklin Award, Travel Essay Book for Washington, the Spirit of the Land by PMA The Independent Book Sellers Association

2003 Highly Honored – Plant Life by Nature’s Best International Photography Awards

2008 First Place Photography Magazine Feature, Excellence in Journalism Competition by The Society of Professional Journalists

Selected Exhibitions

May 1983 Prouty Community Center; Princeton, IL Solo show Historic Rural Architecture of Bureau County

May 1986 Kroch’s & Brentano’s Bookstore & Gallery; Chicago Solo Show of Recent Black & White Work

July 1987 Anne Thomas Gallery; Princeton, IL Solo Show of Recent Black & White Work

April 1997 Blue Heron Gallery; Vashon, WA Sharing Common Ground a Solo show of color landscape photographs

1997-2000 Juried participant in the Northwest Exhibition of Environmental Photography

July 1998 Maryhill Museum of Art; Goldendale, WA Northwest Vistas featuring the work of eleven Northwest photographers

September 1999 Blue Heron Gallery; Commissioned Artist for the Vashon Allied Arts annual auction

June 2001 Blue Heron Gallery; Vashon, WA Vashon Visions: Habitats, History and Home landscape photographs of two contemporary photographers with historic images

March 2004 Blue Heron Gallery; Vashon, WA Curated The Art of Travel - a multimedia exhibit of art influenced by travel

May 2008 Barn Works Gallery; Vashon WA Spring Studio Tour

December 2008 and 2010; Blue Heron Gallery; Vashon, WA
Invitational Miniature Show

February 2010 Silverwood Gallery, Vashon Islan, WA Invitational Flower Show

April 2011 Blue Heron Art Center, Vashon Island, WA Invitational Partners in Art – Couples Sharing Creativity


American Art Resources, Huston, TX

Art Advice, New York, NY

Arterra, Bellevue, WA

Boston Art Image, Boston, MA


“…WOWing presentation! I was very impressed with your flexibility in adapting the class to meet the specific needs of this group.”
J.G. Yellowstone, Summer 2011

“Excellent teaching in a stunning location”.
L.H. Yellowstone, Summer 2011

“I found Terry and Mary to be incredibly generous of themselves and their time, and tireless in the field helping every class participant. Kudos to both!”
B.Z. Yellowstone, Summer 2011

“…instructors were superb – very patient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun.”
T.L. Yellowstone, Winter 2011

“You can’t come away from this course without being able to improve your picture taking and editing skills.”
C.L. Yellowstone, Summer 2010

“…instructors were artists not just technical photographers.”
Yellowstone, Summer 2010

“This course is excellent for any level photographer ….the inspiration from the instructors was excellent.” Yellowstone, Fall 2008

“Your knowledge, experience and ability as an instructor are admirable. …a positive and informative experience!”
R. F. Vashon Allied Arts, January, 2010

Mary Liz Austin

I photograph to record the obvious – the incredible beauty of nature that I believe mirrors the beauty that exists in all of us.

Mary Liz Austin has been a professional landscape photographer for 17 years and has developed a thriving photography business with her photographic partner and husband Terry Donnelly. She began her career in photography by dedicating herself to large format and now continues telling the stories of place using digital media.

In her travels through the U.S. she searches for scenes that depict quintessential Americana and the magnificence and distinctive beauty of our national lands. Her international images likewise seek to reveal the natural beauty she encounters. Gardens are another favorite subject.

Her images are featured in numerous calendars, books, cards and magazines as well as corporate reports and brochures for environmental organizations and wildlife protection agencies. Clients include Sierra Club, Audubon, Hallmark, National Wildlife Federation, Brown Trout Publishers, Horizon and Alaska Air Magazines.

She has published several books in collaboration with Terry and has been the recipient of many distinguished honors and awards. Her images can be found in private collections and have been showed widely in innumerable exhibits.
She and Terry are highly regarded as an effective photo workshop team, though their busy schedules limit their availability. In addition to their workshops with Visionary Wild, they teach an annual workshop at Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone National Park.

Mary Liz Austin Q&A

What motivates your work?

At the heart of things I am a storyteller. I create a relationship with my photographic subjects and try to tell a story about that relationship. As a photographer the trick is to reveal the subtleties and depth of the three-dimensional world in the two-dimensional medium of the captured image. I strive to be an honest witness in this process.

What skills/qualities are most important?

Stillness and an open mind are both extremely important in my work. Although I plan to photograph at a particular location I usually don’t know what my exact subject will be. I must have the right frame of mind in order to allow the conversation between me and my subject to reveal itself.

What was your biggest break professionally?

I was introduced to the world of photography by my husband, Terry Donnelly. I consider this to be an amazing break professionally because early on I met other photographers (Willard Clay, Carr Clifton, Jack Dykinga, Larry Ulrich, Jeff Foott, George Ward, etc.) and observed how they worked. Because of this I was able to learn quickly, find my own photographic “voice”, and hone my craft. I am grateful to these mentors and am proud to now be considered one of their colleagues.

How do you break out of a creative block?

Walking, sleeping, gardening all help to soothe the creative beast. If I am somewhere and feel there is something “speaking” to me but I just don’t see it, I will walk away for awhile, make sure I have eaten, watch the light change on the subject or admire the subject for what it is and not try to photograph

Who are your most significant influences, and why?

Terry has been an immense influence because he continues to play, explore and challenge himself in all aspects digital photography. From the fieldwork to the digital capture to the digital processing, he takes on new challenges with an enthusiasm that I find contagious.

George Ward is another photographer I admire. He stays in one location for days or even weeks, really immersing himself in the place, waiting patiently for the conditions to become magical. His approach to photography has a spiritual quality.

Bruce Jackson has a lovely eye for the subtleties of nature. Because he photographs for prints he is quite particular about his shot selections. His approach is more conservative than mine (I shoot a lot for stock) and I find that thinking about being in his shoes helps me focus my attention differently.

I did not initially fall in love with photography. I grew to love photography during my affair with my Wista 4x5 field camera; it was what we created together. The Wista was the perfect instrument for me to learn photography as it was heavy and cumbersome; it was antiquated, stubborn and limiting. But it was also reliable, powerful, simple and straightforward in design. It was through this camera that I became aware of the expanse of nature. The gift of this camera was that it slowed me down and made me think about each image. Each shot was a commitment. It enabled me to establish an intimate relationship with my subject. I only recently made the switch to digital. Even though digital offers lightness and flexibility I am grateful for the connection I had with my Wista because it taught me the slow deliberate meditative dance photography can be.

Where would you go back to?

I always want to return to the place I most recently visited. As I leave a location I get the feeling that I am driving away from a good friend who I know I may not see for a while. I feel a strange sense of nostalgia as I reminisce about the light of a place and the subjects that I interacted with. And, as with a visit with a good friend, I want to continue the conversation and capture the moments that I didn’t quite get.

Why are you excited to be working with Visionary Wild?

I am excited about the attention to photography itself. Although the programs are international in scope, the emphasis is still about seeing what is in front of you, wherever you are.

What are your greatest strengths as a teacher and workshop leader?

I think that I am able to put my ego aside and help students capture what they see through the lens. So I love to be in the field with the students working on composition as well as demonstrating to them in the classroom the editing and digital workflow.

What are your favorite things about teaching?

Setting the hook! I think that people benefit greatly by having ways to express themselves creatively in their lives. I try to teach people to go from unconscious photography to conscious photography; to think about studying some scene or object carefully and create a photograph from their inner voice. When a student realizes that they have the power to express themselves through photography, not just shoot pictures, I can see the hook get set.

How did you get your start in photography?

Initially I had no intention of being a photographer. I was working on my Master’s thesis in Nutrition and was able to travel with Terry on his photo shoots. I loved the travel and became enchanted with light. I became quite skilled with the light meter and after five years of watching Terry my opportunity arose. One day we were scouting in the Smoky Mountains and I thought a particular field in Cade’s Cove was beautiful and photogenic. Terry stepped away from his camera and then smiled and walked away. Although I was a puddle of insecurity I took the image. The camera was a large format Wista and I discovered that I loved it and purchased my own that same year. That image sold to a client and my hook was set.

How do you find ways to take your own work in new directions?

This is a challenge for me because we photograph for our publishers/clients and their needs, so we tend to photograph for them. One escape for me is to do garden photography. Vashon Island has exceptional private gardens and the owners have been gracious in opening up their gardens for me to photograph.

The changing technological landscape of photography moves my work in new directions as well. I have fought this because I do not consider myself to be a technogeek but I have found that digital photography gives me an expanded palette for expression.

The opportunities I have had to teach have also pushed my work in new directions. It helps me to re-experience the newness of photography and see with the “beginner’s mind”.

What do you think is the most important role for photography today?

To foster creativity. When we all find ways to slow down and pay attention and be creative we help create a better world.


My images are featured in numerous calendars, books, cards and magazines as well as corporate reports and brochures for environmental organizations and wildlife protection agencies. Clients include Sierra Club, Audubon, Hallmark, National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, National Geographic, National Wildlife Federation, American Art Resources, Brown Trout Publishers, Horizon and Alaska Air Magazines.

Books using exclusive collections of images in collaboration with photographer Terry Donnelly include:

Wild Seattle: a Celebration of the Natural Areas in and around the City. © 2004 published by Sierra Club Press

California Wild: Preserving the Spirit and Beauty of Our Land. © 2004 published by Voyageur Press

Oregon: Preserving the Spirit and Beauty of Our Land. © 2003 published by Voyageur Press

Washington: the Spirit of the Land. © 1999 published by Voyageur Press. Benjamin Franklin Award winner.

Gallery Exhibitions

The National Parks in Washington, Washington State Convention Center, October 2010 through January 2011. A fine art exhibition of prints celebrating the beauty and diversity of National Park Service units in Washington State by seven resident professional photographers renowned for capturing exceptional views of the natural world.

The Barn Show Invitational, June 2011 Blue Heron Art Center, Vashon Island, WA

Partners in Art, April 2011, Blue Heron Art Center, Vashon Island, WA

Inner Vashon and Outer View, July, 2009, Blue Heron Art Center, Vashon, Island, WA

Random Acts of Kindness, January – March 2009, Silverwood Gallery, Burton, WA

Honors and Awards

Nature’s Best Photography Collection – 10-Year Best of the Best Collector’s Edition of 100 best images over 10 years © 2006

Nature’s Best International Photography Awards 2003, Highly Honored in the Landscapes Category. Image exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Mother Earth, Through the Eyes of Women Photographers and Writers, Second Edition, Sierra Club Books © 2002

Teaching & Testimonials

In addition to teaching with Visionary Wild, Mary and Terry teach a yearly landscape photography class in Yellowstone National Park through the Yellowstone Association at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch.

Quotes from students:

I found Terry and Mary to be incredibly generous of themselves and their time and tireless in the field helping every class participant. Kudos to both!

B.Z. Yellowstone June, 2011

Mary and Terry were engaging, humorous and hands on.

B. E. Yellowstone June, 2011

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



Topics to be covered include:
  • Serendipity and the ability to react quickly to ephemeral lighting, atmospheric conditions and other spontaneous opportunities
  • Development of visualizing potential compositions in the mind's eye based upon particular lenses and creative use of depth of field or motion
  • Visualizing compositions in the mind's eye based upon potential during post processing, i.e. stitched panoramas, depth of field stacking, and HDR.
  • Understanding of spacial relationships by the point of view and lens selected
  • Approaches to scouting locations for photography in both the present and future
  • Familiarization with local and seasonal atmospheric conditions, movement of the sun, and effects of altitude on blooming cycles
  • Unusual celestial events, phases of the moon for image composition and the moon's affect on tides.
  • Opening to original creativity, dispensing with pre-conceived notions, and the adoption of flexibility.
  • Dealing with the realities of serious, purpose-driven fieldwork, and making unexpected challenges work for you
  • Eight field photography sessions at various sites on Olympic Peninsula, including coastal areas, rain forest, and mountain ridgelines with views deep into the Olympic wilderness.
  • Projected group critiques
  • Packaged with single-occupancy lodging, all meals and beverages

Accommodations & Travel

Package includes single-occupancy lodging, all meals, and adult beverages with dinner. Prorated fees are available for double occupancy and for those who do not require lodging.

The waterfront Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles, Washington, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, will be our basecamp and indoor classroom. With views of the water from each participant's room, the hotel offers a perfect location close to restaurants and shops, and central to our field photography destinations. This workshop is packaged inclusive of single-occupancy accommodation, with prorated options for double-occupancy or without lodging if you live nearby or prefer to make your own arrangements. Catering will be provided by better area restaurants, with fine dining at dinner.

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Major airlines fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA-TAC). Kenmore Air flies out of Seattle Boeing Field (accessible via shuttle from SEA-TAC) into Port Angeles, though their 9-seat Cessna Grand Caravans have baggage weight restrictions so check with them before booking. There is a twice daily bus shuttle between SEA-TAC and Port Angeles ( Ground transportation during the workshop itself will be provided using two group vans. From Seattle, the Olympic Peninsula is accessible by regular ferry service ( Hiking will be fairly easy, with a two-mile maximum round trip on moderate terrain. Some trails could be muddy with slippery roots. Tide pools are always slippery. Highest altitude location will be around 6000'. Summer weather on the Olympic Peninsula is variable, with highs between the 50s and 70s depending on elevation, and it's far drier than in winter. Expect a mix of sun, cloud, rain, and fog – perfect for atmospheric photography on the edges of light!


This experience is best suited to passionate photographers seeking to work with a group of enthusiastic peers who are familiar with their equipment, fundamentals of photographic technique, and essential digital workflow. Between excursions to photograph in the field, we will gather each day for lectures and group image critique sessions. This workshop is ideal for photographers seeking to refine their approach to visualization, boost creativity, and learn techniques to improve visual and technical efficiency to ensure flexibility and openness to serendipity. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about recommended experience level, recommended equipment, or anything else that you are curious about.