Okay, you’ve learned the basics of how your camera works, you understand the relationship between f-stop, shutter speed and ISO, and you’ve finally made peace with your tripod. So, now what? How do you make more creative landscape photographs?
1. Quiet the technical voice in your head.
You’ve done the work, and you know your camera. You should be able to operate it with your eyes closed. If not, go practice in a darkened space until you are familiar with every single button on your camera. Your camera is supposed to be an extension of your hands. Your workflow should be solid by now, so let your creative voice take the lead. Feel and experience what nature is showing you before you even set up your camera. Be curious. Explore your surroundings. Have faith in what you know technically, but don’t let the technical voice “drive the bus”.
2. Love the process.
Don’t dwell too much on the outcome of your work. Yes, visualize what you are trying to achieve, but don’t forget to stay in the moment and enjoy the process. Let the work itself be the reward. If you don’t love what you are doing, it will reflect in your images. So, if you are not okay with getting up at ridiculous hours, enduring some physical discomfort or chasing storms, your unhappiness will reflect in the emotional quality of your images. So, have fun! Adjust your experience to your comfort level until you can focus completely on your work and not on your discomfort.
3. Listen to your inner voice.
Your life experiences, the sum of your existence so far as you’ve walked this planet, will come through in the expression of your photography. You can’t help it. It just will, so tap into that and pay attention to how you are reacting to a scene, then try to communicate it visually. What is moving you emotionally about the scene? Answer that question and focus. You see your surroundings uniquely from everyone around you because you are you.
4. Live creatively.
Write poetry. Play an instrument. Work in a garden. Make stuff with your hands. Engage with the creative world outside of your photography. You probably already do creative things in your life that don’t even think about! Feed those activities and let them feed your creative soul. Visit art museums. Study the masters and spend time with those works of the great painters, photographers, architects, and sculptures/sculptresses that move you emotionally.
5. Cross train.
Try making photographs in a different genre, like portraits, street photography, or wildlife. Your brain must work differently in each of these disciplines and you will become a better photographer.
6. Take bad pictures and embrace failure.
Ok, I realize this sounds like bad advice, but trust me! It is not! Don’t get addicted to your successes. Success only happen through failure. Every artist creates bad work. It is an intrinsic part of the process to make creative landscape photographs, so if you place unreasonable expectations on yourself, you are very likely to be unhappy and give up. Don’t give up just because you aren’t the genius you expect yourself to be!
Feel free to share your own experiences in comments below.