I recently read an article by our contributing author, Ugo Cei, about how landscape photography is becoming ubiquitous with the advent of cheap digital cameras and ready-access to amazing locations. As a result, the world of landscape photography has become increasingly competitive and full of the same cliché images that simply do not speak to their viewers.
So the question is… how does why do you want to become a landscape photographer? If you do it for the wrong reason you are bound to be disillusioned and frustrated in this cut throat world of landscape photography.
I want to capture AWESOME photos I see on the Internet and Magazines
The first question you must ask yourself is: Why am I a landscape photographer?
Most of the landscape photographers that we know, both professional and amateur, do it because they love the great outdoors. If this is the case, I would highly recommend that you stop looking at other photographer’s photos. Why? Because, in the best-case scenario, you may be disappointed with the photos you shoot. And in the worst-case scenario, you may deprive yourself of visiting a location because “everyone has already taken the amazing shots”. Remember that the real reason you are a landscape photographer is because you love it. There is no reason why you should allow others to take this away from you.
It is ALL about Likes, Tweets and +1s
Landscape photography is becoming highly competitive in this world of social media. Social media feeds on the LOOK AT ME! factor; this means that many landscape photographers are after as many tweets, likes, and +1s as they get on their favorite social media network. Over the years, I have known photographers who create fake accounts just to criticize other photographers or to boost their own work.
While I have never created a fake account, I must admit that I have been down that path (long before Google+, Facebook, or Twitter) where my top priority was to climb the popularity ladder. Although this strategy did make me popular, it did nothing to expand my creativity. In fact, it had the opposite effect. It restricted my creativity because I would ONLY shoot photos that would be popular on social media. Luckily for me, being married to and shooting with another landscape photographer allowed me to see the limitation of my strategy. I soon found myself shooting subjects for their challenge and creativity (rather for their popularity) and, to my surprise, I enjoyed these experiences much more than getting +1s, Likes, and tweets. The more I immersed myself in creativity, the more I enjoyed being on-location… and the less worried I was about what others thought. Don’t get me wrong… I still love to capture the shots that make others say WOW!!; but I also love the shots that requires out-of-the-box thinking and the ones that require you to step out of your normal workflow.
Photos captured under perfect conditions is ALL that matters
When I first started out in landscape photography, I would feel disappointed and frustrated if the right light did not show up. After all, how was I supposed to take an awe-inspiring photo without the perfect light conditions? But this is exactly the wrong perspective. In my single-minded approach to capture a great shot, I completely forgot to enjoy the beautiful location that I was trying to photograph.
These days I have a completely different approach to landscape photography. If the light does not cooperate, we take time to explore the area and search out less popular locations. While shooting for Induro in Canada, we hiked down to the Ink Pots in pouring rain. On our recent trip to Hawaii during some hazy days, we took time to go snorkeling with turtles, body surfing in the waves, and exploring the tide pools full of amazing sea life. As a result, I love to photograph on the days when I do pick up my camera… but I also look forward to those days when I can simply enjoy the location.
The next time you go on a landscape photography adventure… make it less about popularity or trying to get the next best shot and more about having an adventure and exploring your creativity. You may find that you’ve more-deeply fallen in love with landscape photography.