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 | $10,995* Register
Expedition April 5 - 16, 2019 | View other workshops

Torres del Paine with Michael Melford and Justin Black

Map via Google

This combination of workshop and expedition is a unique hit! The leaders knew the area, worked well together, imparted their knowledge with enthusiasm and congeniality to each participant and the local staff were professional and helped us as a group and individually at all times. The logistics and lodgings were excellent. An outstanding photographic experience! –S. Dater, 2015 Patagonia participant

We returned home with lots of great memories and many images to review and process! It was a very well organised trip & thanks again to the entire team. We will definitely look at Visionary Wild when planning future trips. –G. & H. Cuff, 2018 Patagonia participants

Patagonia: the word is synonymous with awe-inspiring landscape, and Torres del Paine National Park is both its crown jewel and a microcosm of the most aesthetically appealing features of the region. This hybrid program – part expedition, part workshop, led by National Geographic photographer Michael Melford and Justin Black is designed to maximize opportunities to execute well-crafted and compelling photographs that capture the spirit of this incredible place. Participants will have ample time to get to know Torres del Paine during its colorful autumn splendor, and your photography there will benefit from the opportunity to revisit fruitful situations to apply lessons learned and to take advantage of changing weather and light. The goal is for each participant to come away from this trip with a strong body of work, a new body of knowledge, new friendships, rejuvenation, and priceless memories.

Puma Extension – Save $1,000: Those interested in the best opportunity on Earth to photograph wild pumas up close should note that this itinerary is preceded immediately by and can be combined perfectly with our Pumas of Patagonia trip led by Roy Toft, March 30-April 6. Joining us for both itineraries entitles you to a $1,000 discount on the combined cost (on a per person basis, in either single or double-occupancy).

Torres del Paine National Park and Biosphere Reserve is the centerpiece of Patagonia – the ultimate distillation of the region's most inspiring qualities. It's one of those rare places that routinely exceeds the grandest dreams of even the most experienced photographers. Peaks and spires thrust abruptly upward above turquoise lakes, forcing moisture-laden winds off the ocean to form soaring lenticular clouds that catch the fiery sunrise and sunset alpenglow. Glaciers spill down from the Patagonian icecap, depositing cobalt blue icebergs on the shores of Lago Grey. Endemic lenga and ñirre tree forests glow in hues of gold and copper in the southern autumn. Rivers tumble over cascading waterfalls as condors ride thermals on the flanks of the Cordillera del Paine mountains. Guanacos, foxes, and pumas range over the golden pampas, and flamingoes wade the lagoons. At this time of year, the days are a manageable length with extended periods of dawn and dusk, and the sun never rises more than 35 degrees above the horizon. The quality of light is spectacular.

Click "read more" below right for the itinerary and image gallery...

Our trip begins in the southernmost city on Earth, Punta Arenas, Chile (population approximately 160,000), on the north shore of the Strait of Magellan.  Participants arriving at the airport in Punta Arenas will be met upon exit from baggage claim by our local guide team, headed by our good friend Ruth Cohen, regarded as one of the very best guides in Chilean Patagonia. You will then transfer to Hotel Cabo de Horns, an elegant and modern hotel in the city center. We'll all gather there and go out as a group for a welcome dinner to get to know everyone. The next morning after a leisurely breakfast, we will load up in our two spacious passenger vans (Mercedes Sprinter or Ford Transit), with plenty of extra room for gear and luggage, and proceed to Torres del Paine National Park with a stop on the way for lunch in the waterfront town of Puerto Natales. When we arrive at the park, we will check into Hotel Las Torres, the first of three spectacularly positioned lodges in the park that will serve as our base camps for the next nine days and nights – the others are Hostería Pehoe, and Hotel Lago Grey.

Michael Melford and Justin Black will lead the small group on field sessions adapted to make the most of the prevailing conditions each day. Emphasis will be on photography and hands-on mentoring in the field. We'll photograph when the conditions are good, and we'll gather in the lodge for presentations on light, composition, visualization, technique, and digital workflow at times when light or weather aren't as conducive for photography (during harsh mid-day light, if a rain storm passes through, etc.). We will also hold constructive critiques of participant photographs, and then head back out into the field to apply what we've learned.

Excursions will include trips by ferry to visit the calving face of Glacier Grey and, via our group vehicles, spectacular locations around the park that we have discovered and scouted thoroughly on numerous prior visits. Some locations involve short hikes, but nothing particularly strenuous.

After dusk each day, we will gather for a nice dinner and some good Chilean wine. Then it's off to bed to rest, as most mornings we'll be out around 6:30am to take advantage of the incredible pre-dawn light. Breakfasts and lunches will be handled in relation to our photographic activities, served either at our lodges or in the field as a gourmet picnic.

Single-Occupancy Rate: $10,995.00

Double-Occupancy Rate: $10,150 per person

Included in the program:

  • Photographic instruction throughout by Michael Melford and Justin Black, a highly effective instructor team with several previous Torres del Paine visits under their belts
  • Top local guide, Ruth Avenali, plus support by a
  • Very comfortable ground transportation in two spacious Mercedes Sprinter type passenger vans, with lots of extra space.
  • Eleven nights lodging (package is priced as single-occupancy; double-occupancy available at pro-rated fee)
  • All meals, snacks, and beverages (including beer, wine, cocktails with dinner)

Michael Melford

National Geographic Photographer Michael Melford has worked with the Society for over 30 years. He has produced 19 feature stories for National Geographic magazine, and over 30 stories for National Geographic Traveler magazine.Born in New York, Michael received a bachelor’s in photography from Syracuse University and returned to New York City in 1977 to start his career.

He has been on assignment the past eleven years mostly for the National Geographic magazine, celebrating the marvels of our National Parks: Acadia, Glen Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Waterton/Glacier, and Death Valley, and a cover story on Our National Parks in Peril (2006). Michael recently shot for National Geographic's "The 50th Anniversary for the Wilderness Act" (2014), which was ranked #2 story of the year by the readers of National Geographic. Other National Geographic stories include: “Saving Civil War Battlefields,” “King Herod: Architect of the Holy Land,” and “Russian Kronotsky Preserve: Let it Be.” and “Solar Energy”.

Michael has produced photography for eight books for National Geographic, including three in Alaska, his favorite being Treasures of Alaska. He has received many awards for his photographs, but prefers to remain humble and share his knowledge, his love of nature, and his sense of humor with students of photography.

Michael has built an excellent reputation as an instructor and photo trip leader, teaching photography through the National Geographic, giving one-day seminars around the country, and onboard the various ships that NG has stationed around the world. His first photo expedition with Visionary Wild is to New Zealand’s south island, focus of a March 2014 feature article for National Geographic magazine.


VIDEO INTERVIEW: Michael Melford, Photographer, by National Geographic Live!


Born in New York 1950

Studied Photography at Syracuse University, Graduated 1973

Moved to New York City to pursue Career in Photography 1977

Contributing Photographer to LIFE Magazine, 1981

Worked for many publications including cover articles for :

Newsweek,  Time,  Life,  Fortune,  Smithsonian,  Geo,  Travel & Leisure, 

Travel Holiday, National Geographic Traveler,  Coastal Living,  Adventure Magazine.

Contributing Photographer to National Geographic Traveler, 1998

Began work for National Geographic Magazine (yellow magazine) 2003.  First assignment:  Acadia National Park. 

Just completed 19th assignment for National Geographic Magazine.


Awards include:  

POYi-1st Place Features Nature/Science

World Press Images Photos of the Year    

International Center of Photography

New York Art Director’s Club

Communication Arts Photo Annual

Graphis Photo Annual

The Missouri School of Journalism

Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Photography

Caribbean Tourism Award for Best Magazine Photographer


Books Published:

New England: Land of Scenic Splendor (National Geographic)      

The Emerald Realm (National Geographic) 

Canada’s Incredible Coasts (National Geographic)        

National Geographic Guide to New England

National Geographic Guide to Alaska

National Geographic Guide to San Diego

The Smithsonian Guide to Historic America   

Classic Photographs (Life)

Big Sky Country (Rizzoli)        

Treasures of Alaska (National Geographic)

Hidden Alaska-Bistol Bay and Beyond (National Geographic)

A Day in the Life of Japan ( Collins )

A Day in the Life of America ( Collins )

Expertise is in shooting the wonders of travel and nature and the people who occupy that landscape. An enthusiastic teacher of photography, with a great sense of humor.

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



  • One of the world's most spectacular landscapes: peaks of the Cordillera del Paine, icebergs, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls,  lagoons, and magnificent Patagonian light.
  • Wildlife: Andean grey foxes, endangered huemul deer, Andean condors, Darwin's rhea, black-chested buzzard eagles,  flamingos, and guancos (wild ancestors of llamas).
  • Small group limited to ten participants
  • Attentive and effective photographer support with instruction throughout by the highly regarded team of Michael Melford and Justin Black
  • Local support by our good friend, Ruth Cohen, perhaps the most highly respected Patagonia guide there is, plus a team of assistant guides and drivers.
  • Creativity and visualization: learn to find new and unexpected compositions
  • Advanced field techniques for landscape and wildlife photography
  • Breaking through creative block and making great photographs in challenging situations
  • Mastering a logical, efficient, and consistent digital workflow, from capture to final master image, that frees you to focus on creativity
  • Ensuring the highest-possible final image quality
  • All-inclusive from Punta Arenas

Accommodations & Travel

  • Accommodation in excellent hotels and lodges: Hotel Cabo de Hornos (Punta Arenas – nights of April 5 and 15), Hotel Las Torres (3 nights), Hostería Pehoe (3 nights), Hotel Lago Grey (3 nights)
  • All ground transportation
  • All meals and snacks
  • Non-alcoholic beverages, and wine, beer, and cocktails (Pisco sour, anyone?) with dinner.
airplane iconcar iconboat iconfoot iconweather icon
Fly into Punta Arenas (PUQ), Chile, to be met for ground transfer to our group's hotel for the first night. In-country flights are included; international flights are not. Very comfortable ground transportation is provided throughout the workshop. We will make excursions by ferry on Lago Grey in Torres del Paine N.P. Most locations are accessed by short walks from vehicles. Longer hikes are an option, but are not mandatory. Weather is variable, with highs between 45 to 65ºF and lows between 30 to 45ºF at this time of year. We will likely experience a mix of conditions from partly cloudy to overcast, with wind varying by local microclimate. Rain showers and snow flurries are possible from time to time.



The workshop in Patagonia was well planned and extremely well executed. The leaders were constructive, inclusive and always ready to answer questions, no matter what the content. The most important part though, was the positive attitude displayed and the humor which encompassed every situation. I eagerly look forward to my next experience with Visionary Wild. –V. Snyder

Going to Patagonia was a dream of mine since I saw a picture of Cerro Torre in the 1972 Chouinard Equipment catalog. So I was thrilled to be finally going, not as a climber as originally planned, but as a photographer. Traveling with Justin and the crew felt like being with old friends. If you're thinking about going on an expedition with Visionary Wild, stop thinking and do it! –L. Bartlett