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How to Shoot Like Benjamin Hardman

A new workshop explores the stark, beautiful, simplicity behind Benjamin Hardman's photography in Iceland.

By: Kyle Frost + Save to a List

In his latest workshop team-up,  Alex Strohl dives deep into shooting styles, editing, personal aesthetic, and business practices with Iceland-based Benjamin Hardman. In 5 hours of HD content, including 6 field episodes and 6 editing episodes, Benjamin shares everything he's learned on his pursuit for a unique, striking aesthetic. You might've seen pictures of Iceland before, but not like this.

Check out the workshop

I had the chance to ask Benjamin a few questions about his photographic journey and the workshop -- read on (and check out the video preview) below!

You’re originally from Australia — how did you end up in Iceland and start shooting professionally?

Back in Australia, photography was a hobby of mine. I used to document the local surfers, which was what got me hooked in the beginning. Then over the course of a few years I became really interested in landscape photography, while also assisting on a bunch of weddings and portrait shoots to gain skills in the industry. All of these things came together when I started to travel around Europe in 2013 while on a study abroad program. One day I heard about the wonders of Iceland and booked my first trip the same evening — it all kicked off from there. Five trips later I moved, started to build local connections and worked my way up from there!

I expect it was a bit of a cultural shift — what were some of the challenges?

The language has been a huge challenge. Icelandic is extremely complex to learn, it’s been quite the challenge over the years but it’s starting to come together.

The Icelandic people have quite a similar nature to those from Australia I think, which has made it easier to adjust to life over here. Maybe it’s an island thing, though I guess the sizes are quite different!

How has Iceland influenced or changed the way you approach photography?

The nature in Iceland has for sure changed the way I approach photography. I’m drawn to the darker days of weather and the seasonal shifts in the landscape, which often come with heavy rain and snow. These conditions have become the core of my photographic style, and they demand you to be well prepared. I think what has changed most is the focus I put on planning and preparing ahead of time for my shoots. You have to be thorough!

Iceland has probably changed quite a bit since you first visited. What are some of the impacts you’ve noticed — and do you think this influx of tourism been net positive or negative for the country?

Even in just the 3.5 years that I’ve been living here, I’ve seen huge changes — especially in the South. I think overall the tourism influx has been net positive, but it is beginning to really take its toll on the nature. As information spreads and the highland region becomes more known and accessible, remote and fragile areas are put at an increased risk of damage. Some of the biggest issues are with off-road driving, where people will drive outside of marked tracks and onto the untouched landscape. The scars will take tens of years to recover, if at all, so please stay on the tracks everyone!

Your personal style is very tied to the remote, stark beauty of Iceland — do you ever worry about your personal brand being so intimately tied to a particular landscape/location?

This has definitely been a point of thought for me over the years. I think that there is no problem with my photographic style being so tied to Iceland because at the end of the day, I love this place and moved my life here. In a way, my life has become my photographic style, so I’m sure it would work out if I needed to change things up in the future. But for now, focusing on a specific niche has been the key to my success and I wish for more people to embrace this in their work — I find it very fulfilling go deeper into one subject.

What do you most hope to convey to photographers with this workshop?

I hope that my workshop with Alex can help people to build on and refine their photographic identity — to work out what it is that the enjoy shooting the most, and how this can be turned into a style of their own. Editing and colour cohesion play a big part in this, and I went in depth into this subject in the workshop modules!

What is different about the way you + Alex approached this workshop (what’s better/different than other workshops)?

I think what makes this workshop quite special is that we chose to film it in my backyard — in the specific areas in Iceland that I have photographed since the beginning of my career. This allowed me to go really deep into my methods and break down the core reasons that I believe have helped my style develop over the years.

Who are a few of your inspirations?

I really look up to the work of Ragnar Axelsson — RAX for short.

He has been documenting Iceland and the Arctic for decades as a photojournalist. The scenes and stories that he has captured are absolutely gripping, they really put you into the moment.

I find it really fascinating to see how Iceland used to be before the tourism wave when looking through his images. And then also how some places haven’t changed one bit, protected by their remoteness.

What’s your favorite non-Iceland place to shoot?

I am currently most fascinated by the Arctic wilderness of Svalbard. It has been mind blowing to see the wildlife roam around the mountains, enduring the most harsh of winters each year. I’ve never been so cold!

For more of Benjamin's work, follow him @benjaminhardman, and check out the workshop at https://hardmanxstrohl.com/

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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