When you think about landscape photography, you might just think of pretty pictures of pretty places hanging on the wall.
But the reality is that there is a lot of hard work, planning, and preparation that goes into creating breathtaking landscape shots.
Sure, there are all sorts of tips and tricks you can employ to compose a better landscape photo. There are plenty photography gadgets to help you take improved images as well.
But there’s also the practical matters that will help you make it as a landscape photographer.
What do I mean? Let’s review a few tips from landscape photographer Thomas Heaton…
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
When I started taking landscape photos, I often found myself racing from one beautiful spot to the next, desperately trying to cram as many locations into my day as possible.
I wanted to have photos from different perspectives, of different subjects, and with different lighting.
The problem with that is that I ended up with a ton of photos, none of which were all that good.
Now, I’m not advocating that you set up shop in one spot and stay there all day long, only taking a few frames here and there.
As Thomas points out, it’s better that you take a slow and measured approach, taking your time with each shot to ensure everything from the composition to the framing to the lighting and so forth is spot on.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to enjoy the scenery around you, either!
The more measured your approach, the fewer the mistakes you will make, and the better the quality of the images you will have as a result.
Another aspect of this “quality over quantity” argument is the notion that you don’t need to post and publish every single photo you take.
Think about it like this – Ansel Adams is my favorite photographer, yet I could probably only think of a handful of his images off the top of my head.
I’m no Ansel Adams, either, so there’s no reason why my Instagram feed needs to have thousands of photos in it.
If you focus on putting only your very best work out there for the world to see, the perception of your work will only improve.
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Go Bigger Than a Single Image
There’s nothing wrong that striving to get that one, jaw-dropping landscape shot. In fact, a single, epic image can have a ton of impact.
But there’s something to be said for challenging yourself to do something a little bit bigger, according to Thomas.
By that, I think we can agree that photography is a great way to tell a story, and focusing your energies on creating a series of related images is a great way to do just that.
There’s a ton of ways to tell a story, too.
You can create a series of images of the same location but from different points of view.
You might take a close-up shot of a particular formation in the landscape, a wide-angle shot of the location, and then a panoramic shot of the larger scene, just to give the viewer a little variety in terms of helping them explore the area through your images.
You might also select some sort of theme to carry through a series of images. This can be anything from the subject matter to the predominant colors in the shot to the type of lens you use to create the images.
The point is that with a series of images, you take the viewer on a journey. It’s more than just giving them a singular “wow” moment – it’s helping them to unpack an experience by exploring multiple images of the same landscape.
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There is nothing wrong with looking at the images of landscape photographers that have come before you and drawing inspiration from their work.
In fact, it’s one of the best things you can do to help you identify your own personal photography aesthetic.
The key, though, is to use other people’s work as inspiration, not to use it to rip off other people’s ideas.
Landscape photography is an incredibly popular genre – perhaps the most popular of all. And as a result of that popularity, there’s an overwhelming inventory of landscape images out there.
With all those images fighting for attention, it becomes even more important for you to be original and find ways to take images that bring something fresh and new to the table.
That might mean sitting your wide-angle lens aside and using your telephoto lens to create intimate landscape images of small features.
That might mean finding new perspectives from which to shoot, be that from high up or low to the ground.
It might also mean focusing on things that are always changing – like the weather – to create one-of-a-kind shots, even of the most familiar landscapes.
In short, put in a little more time and effort to create something truly original, because if you do, your images will be much more memorable and stand out from the crowd.
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The beauty of landscape photography is that there are endless possibilities in terms of subject matter to photograph.
It’s also perhaps more easily accessible to everyday photographers than something like portraiture or macro photography.
But as I’ve outlined above, it takes more than just pointing and shooting to create the best landscape images.
If you want to make it as a landscape photographer, follow these tips, and be sure to check out the video above by Thomas Heaton for even more great ideas!