As landscape photographers, we love to shoot dramatic light to get photos like these from Fiji or Australia or Hawaii. When we are not arguing about the merits of the latest gear, we are busy doing research trying to find our next perfect destination. We take time to browse the social media stream of other photographers and daydream about quitting our day job, arriving at the location, and finding that perfect shot during the golden hours. And why not? Other photographers do it all the time.
Yep… I am not an exception to this rule. When I first started in photography, I did this as well. I would drive hours in my car to get to a perfect location to take the shot that I had in my mind. Sometime this technique worked but more often it resulted in lots of wasted time and very little to show for it. There were trips when I came away with absolutely nothing because I was looking for that one perfect shot. But not any more. These days, my portfolio consists of a diverse set of images and almost all my trips are highly productive.
The credit for my transformation goes to Varina Patel. After being married to her for a few years, I noticed that her portfolio was much more diverse then mine. After a while, I started taking her advise on trying to diversify my own approach to landscape photography. Here is what I found…
Increase Shooting Time
Diversifying my approach to landscape photography allowed me to shoot in all kinds of weather and in all kinds of lighting conditions. My shooting time expanded far beyond the golden hours. I found myself shooting during midday when the sun was high, during overcast weather, in windy conditions, in rain, and even on the cloudless days when most photographers would rather be busy posting old photos on social media. Here are few examples:
More Licensing Opportunities
After a few months of diversifying my approach to photography, I noticed that my portfolio was full of images that extended beyond the typical golden hour shots. This diversified portfolio attracted bigger and more frequent licensing deals with calendar and publishing companies. We also noticed a slight uptick in our print sales even though we do not market our prints.
Another advantage of a diversified approach to photography is that you naturally learn to become creative. For example, if you are shooting on a cloudless day, you may ask yourself how you can come away with awesome photos from that location. This naturally prompts you to look for subject matter and workflows to come up with some creative photos.
Efficient Use of Travel
Ever since I started taking a diversified approach to landscape photography, there has never been a trip where I did not come away with awesome photos to add to my portfolio. They are no longer just golden hour shots. They now include photos of wildlife, macro photos, composites, photos with human elements, and photos that were taken with creative camera settings. The end result of this is that we no longer worry about “what if the light does not show up?” and simply enjoy the experience of being at the location.
So, the next time you are at a location trying get over the fact that the perfect light you were hoping for did not show up, try to think about diversifying your approach to landscape photography. Who knows? You may come away with something spectacular and quite unexpected.