A creative entrepreneur with both an eye for photography and a taste for the great outdoors, Joe Shutter is the perfect fit for Tessuti’s For the Pioneers campaign

First off, tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Joe and I am the man behind the lens at Joe Shutter. Over the last few years, I have carved out an adventure-filled life here in Iceland, the land of fire and ice. Through my blog, vlog and photography, I provide a glimpse of Iceland and invite others to join me on my explorations.

How long have you been into photography?
It’s in my DNA! For as long as I can remember, I’ve had more than a casual interest in photography. My dad is both a photographer and a writer: He captured such spectacular imagery of wonders like the Amazon rainforests, really groundbreaking stuff at the time. We actually have every single issue of National Geographic, going all the way back to 1973. I swear, that kind of collection is the closest thing you can get to time travel! 

What drew you to Iceland specifically?
I didn’t move there for the landscapes at first, that’s for sure. I headed out there for my Masters and I completely fell in love. The landscapes are breathtaking and the locals have such a profound respect for it. It all evolved from there. I started offering tours because it let me bring together two of my favourite things: Photography and teaching. Offering in-the-field, on-the-road photography courses is the stuff of dreams; I get to teach my passion with passion. That really resonates with people.

What are the main challenges of shooting in a place like Iceland?
Shooting out here takes time, patience and a sense of adventure. A vast proportion of the country is entirely inaccessible for most of the year. Certain roads and paths only open up for a month or two. There’s a mesmerising network of roads out there, leading to some of the most spectacular views: Through rivers, over lava fields, across canyons, up mountains, volcanoes, the works. 

Obviously, the weather is an issue. The winds are fierce and multidirectional and hail is never far away. Umbrellas are no good here, that’s for sure. But of course the weather is also one of Iceland’s most beautiful gifts. It carves the landscape. The hardship really pays off. Nothing worth doing is easy.

How do you prepare yourself for those conditions?
The right kit helps! There’s some truly tough terrain out there, so the Land Rover is a godsend. It’s not only up for most tasks, it also looks damn good in the process. It can really take a beating and keep powering on. You can even repair it right there in the field if need be. My go-to is a Defender TD5 Special Vehicles model that I call Balthazar, it took a little while to find but it was worth it. 

I got the chance to field test a Parajumpers jacket not so long ago. I’m a big fan. It’s the details more than anything, there’s a nice mix of form and function, but also a cool sense of technicality, too. Those chunky metal hooks are a real winner. Perfectly fitting with the Land Rover’s aesthetic, too.

Tell us a little about your workshops.
Our last 10-man Melrakki Arctic Fox Photography workshop was a pretty life-changing journey through the Westfjords. Every last one of us, crew and all, were truly inspired by the stuff we saw out there. Where else are you likely to see five polar bears in one day? Epic stuff.

Next August, we’re doing it all again! We’re calling it Silent Arctic, as we’re taking an electric schooner to glide silently through the world’s largest fjord system. 

Are you bringing anything new to next year’s workshop?
Well, we now have The Space, which rounds the whole workshop experience off. Thanks to this brand new communal creative hub, we can do all of our own printing post-shoot. There’s a full studio over there,
giving us scope for some really experimental stuff!

And finally, talk us through some of your most trusted photography gear.
As far as cameras are concerned, it’s always been Nikon for me. My dad always shot Nikon, and has a pretty impressive repertoire of lenses to go along with his years of experience. My king, queen, jack set up is my Nikon D850, along with my D810 and finally my D750. I always work with three cameras. You never know what can happen out there so it pays to be ready for anything. Nikon hits that sweet spot between full professional specs and approachability. If you’re looking to start out yourself, you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Interview by Will HALBERT