3 Wrong Reasons to pursue Landscape Photography

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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…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.

Sunset Swirls

I want to capture the AWESOME photos I see on the Internet and in 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.

Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Exploring creativity at Midday, Hawaii

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.

Capturing photos 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.

Taghia, Morocco

Hiking in Remote Taghia Region, Morocco

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 Tripods 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 fallen even more deeply in love with landscape photography.

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

  • ReddJohn

    I don’t have an ego so I don’t care about likes. I just want to photograph because it’s fun and it’s therapeutic. There’s also joy in working in photoshop and lightroom. This is just a hobby that brings pleasure and fun. I don’t even want to join clubs or share photos with strangers. But then again, I’m not into social media… too much narcissism and conceited people. I don’t find that energy a positive thing to surround myself in. I never realized how much of society are egocentric and narcissistic. It’s a shame there aren’t very many humble people these days. We are filled with the Kim Kardashians and Casey Neistats of social media… me me me look at me me me

  • Tom Herriman

    How am I, an amateur hobby photographer to know that I’m capturing pleasing images?

    • That depends on who you are trying to please. The photos that are my favorites rarely get attention on social media. Now if you question is how you can get better…I would suggest your get someone to critique your photos. One of the best places to start is your local camera club.

      • Tom Herriman

        So you think the people at a local camera club are not the same people that are on social media?

        So the goal of your photography is to please you and maybe a select few others?

      • I think I was not making myself clear. I was attempting to answer your question How am I, an amateur hobby photographer to know that I’m capturing pleasing images? not by pleasing anyone in the club, but getting a unbiased opinion of your work.

        Almost every Friday, our camera club brings in one or more PRO photographers (who are NOT a member of the club) to critique the work by its members. This gives the members insight on how others may see their work. And because this critique is conducted without knowing who submitted the photo…and there is no pleasing anyone. It is an unbiased opinion of your work….The goal is to see what works and what does not. At least in the club I participate in there are no prizes…or recognition…or glory….and certainly no pleasing anyone.

  • This is a great post! Thanks! I just got back from a photo trip where the conditions weren’t always perfect, and I did exactly what you said. During the harsh light of mid-day, my wife and I visited a state park and took a stroll around town and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Next morning, she slept in and I was out before the sun and had a blast making images. You must enjoy what you’re doing!!

  • Dave

    I agree with all of this. I’ve been spending most of the past few years living in a tent out hiking and shooting. I’ve had my days where I didn’t shoot because I thought people wouldn’t like the shot…but then I sat back and thought “who cares..I like it” and I shot it anyway…I spend a lot of time with my camera in my pack and I just hike. It’s not a big deal to take a “zero day” for hiking because you are exhausted…it’s is also okay to take a “zero day” for shooting because the weather is bad or the light is wrong, or you just simply don’t feel inspired that particular day.

    Go forth and conquer the trails or the civilized world will conquer you

    • Go forth and conquer the trails or the civilized world will conquer you – Well said. 🙂

  • Terry

    The old fishing adage could be used here. A bad day photographing is better than a good day in the office. The outdoor experience is exhilarating and if you can bring home a wonderful photo so much the better. Take the time to just look and breathe and enjoy the time spent outdoors.

    • Yep…Make for a very rewarding life.