Five Takeaways from Landscape Photos that Sell

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We do not actively promote our prints on Visual Wilderness. However, we do sell several thousand dollars worth of prints through our website. So this year when we Jay was contacted by Weingarten, he was not surprised by the images that they selected for their 2018 Fine Arts calendar titled “The Earth”.

Here are five take-aways regarding which landscape photos have been sold as prints or licensed by magazines or calendars.

#1 – Clients do NOT care what camera and lens you use

As landscape photographers, we love to engage in endless debates about the latest and greatest equipment. Some of us even memorize the specs on every new camera and lenses produced in the last five years. And who among us is not tempted to spend that extra bonus we got on the newest equipment?

In all the years we have worked with a variety of clients, not a single client has ever asked about the camera and lens we used. This is true for this calendar project as well. Two of the images chose by the client were taken with… drum role please… an 8.2 MP Canon 20D with max resolution of 3504 x 2336 pixels. 😉

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (WY), USA

When a customer looks at this calendar, he or she would be hard-pressed to tell which images were taken with 8.2 MPixel camera.

#2 – Golden hour prints make up a small percentage of total sales

I love to shoot dramatic light during the golden hours… especially when there is a passing storm system. After all, who wouldn’t like to see images like the one below?

Photoshop Manual Blending Workflow Examples

The images with magnificent light are the ones that gets the 1000s of clicks and 100s of shares on the social media and drive my ego into the stratosphere. And almost every landscape photography book will tell you that the best images are the ones you can get during golden hours. Considering this type of advice, I have known many photographers who seldom shoot anything during daylight hours.

Daylight Landscape Photos do sell – Wingarten, 2018 image selection

From a sales perspective, this is a very big mistake. Only 4 of 12 landscape photos that make up this calendar were taken during the golden hours. The rest of the landscape photos were during daylight hours and some even under blue sky conditions with harsh light.

#3 – Surreal post-processing is not always necessary

We love to see dark, moody, surreal images on social media. They are sure to grab your attention. We have also talked to many students who want to learn how to create surreal photos using specialized post-processing techniques. Although I have seen these surreal images being used in calendars and fine art productions, this is NOT the only avenue to sell your prints.

Vibrant, Non-Surrealistic Post Processing – Hraunfossar, Iceland

I enjoy landscape photography because I love the stunning beauty that you find in nature. And this is what I most wish to show my viewers. So, I am less inclined to use surreal post processing techniques to create drama and mood for the image. I prefer my images to be vibrant and retain their natural looks as much as possible. Over the years, we have sold quite a few landscape photos following this philosophy.

#4 – Clients should be able to search for your images using keywords

Lets face it… no one is going to purchase your landscape photos if they cannot find them. This is particularly true if you have a large gallery. Between Varina and myself, we have several hundred images on our websites; each one of these images is key worded and searchable. If you go to my gallery at you can search using keywords like country, state, terrain features (such as waterfalls, mountains, lakes), seasons, and more. This makes it extremely easy for our clients to find images on our websites, especially if they are looking for a specific type of images.

#5 – Your camera skills are still important

You can see exquisite details, colors, and sharpness in all the photos chosen by for the Wiengarten calendar. The work of capturing great landscape photos starts with your camera skills. Some of the techniques used for these photos include hyperfocal distance, automated bracketing, manual bracketing, selecting the correct shutter speed, using histogram to determine the ideal exposure, and more. Getting it right in-camera requires field work as well as a good dose of creativity.

  • #1: Finished Image for the Calendar – Big Island, Hawaii (HI), USA

  • #2: Exposure to capture colors of the ocean, light on the foreground – Big Island, Hawaii (HI), USA

  • #3: Exposure to capture the waterfalls and stream feeding it – Big Island, Hawaii (HI), USA

Even a simple photo like the one you see above was created using two different exposure. These exposure were not used to extend dynamic range; they were used to capture different details in different parts of the images as seen in images #2 and #3. We highly encourage our student to abandon the “I will fix it in Photoshop later” attitude and develop camera skills and creativity to capture what they envision.

The next time you want to create photos that sell, look beyond golden hours or limitation of your equipment. Instead, focus on developing your camera skills and creativity to capture stunning photos. Feel free to share your the lessons learned in the comments below.


About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.
Patience is a virtue...unless you are chasing your dreams