The Single Best Investment for Landscape Photography
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely noticed that camera manufacturers constantly come out with newer, better, lighter, faster, snazzier cameras. And, while there’s no denying that the image quality of today’s cameras is astonishing, but for striking and memorable landscape photography, is a new camera really where you should be spending your money? Because, when it comes down to it, a great landscape photography is the result of you being in the right place at the right time in order to press the shutter button. And it’s that moment that matters, whether you’re shooting with a modern technological marvel or a an ancient point and shoot.
In other words, if you want to capture amazing landscape photos, you should invest in experiences, not new equipment.
Let me give you an example: I took this photo in 2007 with a camera that was released in 2005 and it’s still one of my favorite photos and best selling prints.
What makes the image is not the camera I used but rather the light, the scene, and the magic of the moment. It was the fact that I invested my time, money, and energy into the experience of backpacking to this lake.
Similarly, I took each of these photos with various cameras that aren’t even manufactured anymore because they’re considered obsolete by today’s standards. And yet, they’re all landscape photos I’m very proud to have in my portfolio, and which helped me build my career as a nature photographer. In each case it was the moment and the application of my creative vision that made the photo, not so much the camera I used. These photos are the result of seeking out beautiful experiences, not beautiful pieces of equipment.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe that good gear is good and better gear can be better. But think hard about where you really want to invest yourself. If you only have a certain amount of money to spend, are you going to create memorable photos by buying a new camera or by spending that same money on the opportunity to photograph something that makes your heart sing?
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to invest in the equipment AND the experiences, then more power to you. But if you have to choose between the two, the choice is clear. Because I guarantee you that when you look back at your photos years down the road, you’re going to remember those magical moments, not the box you used to capture them.
Hi Josh, I’ve followed your stuff for years and participated in one or more of your online courses. I like the “Amazing Landscape Photography at Sunset” piece in this article. Can you share how you created the image? Long exposure with birds and so on please… Thank you!
Sure thing! That photo was taken at sunset using a 3-stop soft GND filter to darken the sky. This allowed me to get a shutter speed of around 1/2 second. For this particular shot I waited as a crashing wave surged up the beach, paused at the top, and began to flow back into the sea. That’s the moment I tripped the shutter, and the result is those long, white streaks of water. In this particular case the timing was just right to catch the wave curling in the midground as well. Note that I probably shot 100’s of photos that night of this same composition and the water motion here happened to be the best. The birds are sitting fairly calmly so the 1/2 shutter is not long enough for them to become blurred, though if you look at the full res images you can certainly see some fuzziness where a few birds are moving during the exposure.
That´s the BEST bio I´ve read for a very long time!
Thank you for this amazing article Josh. I often get caught up in chasing the best gear, when I should really be getting excited about my next camping trip. The cherry on top was your “about the author”, that is just pure gold. You are an inspiration.
Josh, how true. The photos I’ve taken at death valley, Iceland, Bar Harbor ME etc can only be had at those locations. Unfortunately, the down side is the weather, light or clouds don’t always cooperate meaning you have to keep going back to get those truly memorable shots.
Stunning photos, 700 days a year?????????? now i know why i cant keep up
referral to About Author write up
Joshua, Great article. I do appreciate spending money on the good equipment I have, but most of the time, nothing beats “spending that same money on the opportunity to photograph something that makes your heart sing…” When someone I know went to Iceland, they took some sublime pictures with their IPhone. They were onsite, I was not. Sometimes, it is the actual traveling that convinces an enthusiast to buy better equipment. Thank you for the encouragement to visit places that make our hearts sing.