Which of the preconceptions that you hold about the type of photography that appeals to you the most really end up working against you? What constraints do you place on yourself that prevent you from shooting more and progressing further in your photography?
There are always going to be certain assumptions that we make based on expectations that we have about a new craft or activity that we start doing. This is true for everyone who starts doing something new. There are some of them that turn out to be correct, and there are some of them that turn out to be mistakes that aren’t harmful, but there are a few of them that may truly become obstacles to advancement and future learning.
To become the best landscape photographer you can be, there are some important misconceptions about landscape photography that need to be addressed, and the most important one is also probably the most obvious of them all. These misconceptions need to be addressed so that they do not prevent you from becoming the best landscape photographer you can be.
The Essential Factor
One method that some photography teachers use that I disagree with, regardless of the type of photography being taught, is the notion that the process somehow begins with establishing constraints and boundaries that do not necessarily apply to the situation.
Many photographers are taught that photography is somehow strictly limited to what the camera takes at the moment of capture and that any form of editing or alteration is somehow already beyond the creative process of photography. This leads many photographers to believe that photography is somehow limited to what the camera takes at the moment of capture.
It is irresponsible for many individuals to prescribe what a photographer can and cannot do in order to make art. While every photographer has the right to determine their own standards of conduct and boundaries for the art they produce, it is also their right to do so. In point of fact, this is the antithesis of what one would consider art to be.
Because beginners’ originality, inventiveness, and even independence as artists are constrained by these constraints, which beginners are frequently led to think exist, breaking free of these shackles is a necessary stage in the process of moving beyond the fundamentals of photography.
The Most Common Fallacy Regarding the Process of Learning Landscape Photography
The majority of photographers who begin their journey into landscape photography either become familiar with the works of renowned landscape photographers, which serves as a source of inspiration for them or they have the opportunity to try their hand at shooting landscapes while traveling to a grand iconic location or landmark.
Seeing the places you’ve only read about in books or magazines represented by a landscape photographer with an exceptionally high level of ability may be a significant source of inspiration. On the other hand, having the opportunity to see and explore such locations may most certainly motivate you to look for more of them and to educate yourself on how to capture them on your own.
There is certainly nothing wrong with allowing oneself to be moved by the great iconic vistas of the globe and harboring the desire to one day visit these places and take photographs of them.
However, a significant number of individuals have the habit of believing that in order to master landscape photography, or even merely to be able to become a landscape photographer, one must constantly go a great distance in order to take photographs.
At first glance, it does not appear to be a harmful assumption; yet, if one persists in maintaining such an attitude during their trip, they will experience a great deal of difficulty and aggravation.
There Is No Correlation Between Distance and Effort
The distance you are able to travel in order to take photographs is not a determining factor in one’s ability to advance in the field of landscape photography, nor should it be considered such. This is an apparent statement. The most straightforward rebuttal to this assertion is posed by asking, “What if you live directly next to a national park or anything similar?” It is true that everyone who lives in close proximity to a beautiful landscape photography location will be in a position to benefit from the proximity, but this should not be a must. On the other hand, it is possible that someone who does not live close to any prominent natural landmark may even have an advantage when it comes to exploring new sites and discovering creative methods to photograph landscapes. This is because they will have more options available to them.
The One Thing That Is Absolutely Necessary When You First Start Out
When I talk to other landscape photographers, one of the questions I often ask them is, “What location did you consider your playground, and how did it help you improve as a landscape photographer?” Personally, I felt that photographing landscapes inside the city that I was stranded in was a helpful method to understanding how to address issues pertaining to the surrounding environment. On the other hand, I did my best to seek for locations that are easily accessible to me within an hour’s drive of where I live. This was done so that I could go there for a few hours on my rare days off to shoot and discover new methods to capture the location each time I went there.
The idea that you should never capture the same location twice is another misconception regarding landscape photography that can be detrimental to your work. Many seasoned landscape photographers would agree that no matter how often you return to the same location or vantage point to take photographs, the landscape, the environmental condition, and the light will always be different from every other time you have been there. This is true regardless of how many times you return to the same location or vantage point. In point of fact, taking photographs in the same location on multiple occasions helps you get ready for a diverse range of environmental conditions and obstacles that you might face in other locations, and the experiences you gain from doing so will definitely assist you in discovering new and interesting ways to photograph landscapes anywhere.
It is also essential to keep in mind that the majority of landscape photographers, as well as the majority of other artists, are always developing in terms of their individual aesthetic preferences and aesthetic styles. If you were to ask any photographer how their approach to photography has changed over the past five or ten years, most of them would reply that their style as well as their preferences have shifted significantly. If you have a place that you know like the back of your hand that you can use as a playground, then you will have the ideal location to try out new strategies with a lower risk of failing or missing the opportunity to do so.
Explore the world, but don’t lose sight of what’s happening right in front of you.
As landscape photographers, it is safe to say that our fascination and curiosity towards the world and nature are what drives us all. This goes hand in hand with the excitement we get from photographing these locations and turning what might appear to be an ordinary place into something one-of-a-kind and visually stimulating.
The fact that we have a constant desire to travel great distances in order to view the most famous and magnificent vistas all over the world is both a sign of natural human behavior and a positive indicator. However, even if you are constrained in some way, whether financially or simply in terms of your ability to travel far, you should never let that stop you from loading up your camera bag and taking some photos.
The artistry you put into your photos, the passion you have for photographing the outdoors, and the curiosity you have in standing witness to the universe are what make you a landscape photographer. There is absolutely no correlation between the distance you travel and the outcome of that.