My Top 5 Tips for Capturing Stunning Landscape Photos – Part 1

I know a lot of you out there may have full-time jobs and only pursue photography as a hobby. I also know some of you want the ABC’s of f-stops, lenses, shutter speed, tripods, gear, what new rig to buy, or what hot piece of equipment is out there. But this article is a little non-conventional and straight from the heart. It’s about my five most valuable tips for chasing the light and capturing stunning landscape photos.

Tip #1: Get Off the Worn Out Beaten Path

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I believe one of the last things we need is a million more photos taken on the same deeply-trodden paths of the exact same subjects. Please don’t take that comment personally or wrong; I do believe we should all still enjoy shooting the popular photography icons.


But know this… one of the most exciting things for me as a full-time landscape photographer is spending time researching new locations, preparing for upcoming adventures, and spending far too many hours on Google Earth trying to find out where NEW beauty exists… beauty that less people (or even no one else) have seen.

As I write this article, I’m in a very remote location on a road I have driven many times before, maybe 100 miles from nowhere. As I drive down this road, I can see the places where everyone goes. The places that are in the books. The places that we’ve all frequently seen in photography forums. But as I’m out here, I’m slowing way down and looking for special locations that fewer people have seen and that can possibly be captured in a unique and wonderful way. That is what gets me jazzed! As much as I love popular places/icons and finding unique perspectives on them, I’m far more excited about finding new stuff. Don’t buy into the idea that there’s no more new stuff out there.

Someone recently told me that there is nothing new to photograph in the American Southwest. This made me laugh. In the last month, I’ve found five new exciting locations with wonderful formations and landscapes that I have never seen photographed. How did I find them? In most cases I used Google Earth Pro, ventured out to the locations, and spent time hiking around with no agenda.

So… step one is to get off the beaten path, find some new subject matter, and allow originality to be the motivation for your photographic adventure.


Tip #2: It’s All About Passion

Passion! I seem to say this in every interview I give or article I write. It’s something that I cannot over-emphasize. It’s been said that “passion is the wellspring of life.” What really gets you going? Where does your heart really want to roam and why? We live in such a vast and wonder-filled earth… and I believe there is unbelievable amounts of untapped beauty out there!

People often ask me the question “what is your favorite place to photograph?” These days my answer is that I don’t have one. My favorite place to photograph is that new, inspired thing that lights the fire of passion inside me.

Spend quality time looking at various photography or travel forums, think about places in the world where you want to go, think about what you want your photography to say. Dig deep and step further in than you normally would.


Do you need an example? Here is one from my own life. I was very sick last winter and was bedridden for two months. At times, I really believed I might be dying and that my career was over. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me despite many tests. During this time, both my character and personality deepened. Also, the projection of my future grew. I dug deeper than ever before (passion) about what I want my life to mean in the short days that we have here on earth.

So… dig for a deeper level of passion and purpose in your life. We only have a short time in this world  so decide to be “all in” with that passion. See where true passion may lead your photography and art.

To be continued in My top 5 Tips for Capturing Stunning Landscape Photos – Part 2 


About Author Mark Metternich

Mark Metternich is a native Oregonian now living in Jacksonville, Florida. He has been a full-time professional landscape photographer and avid photography educator for over 14 years and is considered by many to be an expert in this field. Throughout the year, Mark leads many adventurous photography workshops in the US and abroad, creates educational materials (such as as his many highly acclaimed video tutorials in post processing), teaches post processing privately via Skype screen sharing, offers post processing services for photographers including critical gallery photographers, is a freelance writer for a some select photography publications, public speaker to camera clubs and professional groups, as well as produces limited edition fine art landscape prints from his photography.