While learning how to use your camera and further develop your technical skills is an important factor in improving your landscape photography, there are several more aspects involved in this process. Landscape photography is more than just technical skills; it’s about vision, creativity, connection and so much more.
This article won’t focus on the technical aspects of improving your photography, instead, we’ll look at other, yet equally important, factors that you should keep in mind in order to develop your craft and capture beautiful and unique images.
Forget About Social Media
Yes, social media is for many an important marketing tool and it’s a great way of staying in touch with both fellow photographers and potential clients but it’s easy to get too focused on the amount of “likes” and followers you gain. Getting hundreds, or even thousands, of likes on your images might be a big ego boost but it doesn’t reflect on your skills as a photographer.
When you’re just starting out with photography, it’s more important to spend time reading articles and books about compositions and vision rather than building a following on social media.
I’m not necessarily saying that you should completely avoid sharing your journey online but this shouldn’t be your primary concern; don’t focus on how to grow your online presence, instead focus on improving your craft by being in the field photographing, studying the works of others and reading.
Learn From Others but Don’t Copy
Studying the work of others is an important part of improving your landscape photography. Look aside from the technical aspects such as the settings but instead study the composition, the light, the idea and the vision.
In the Photographer of the Month interview with Dag Ole Nordhaug, one of his best tips for beginning photographers was to visit exhibitions, buy photography books and study the masters, then ask yourself: what is it about this image that I like? How has the artist made me like it the way I do? How can I learn to do the same things?
Now, studying the work of others doesn’t mean that you should copy them. Find inspiration in them and learn from what they do – don’t go out and search for the same locations and capture the same images. Nobody likes a copycat and how will you be able to improve your creative craft when you’re not able to use your creativity?
Stay True to Your Vision
We’ve touched this topic in the two previous tips but I’ll say it again: Don’t let others influence you to step away from your style and vision – stay true to it.
In our interview with David Thompson, he mentioned that as soon as you start posting your images online – you open the doors to all kind of people. Unfortunately, this also means that every now and then you’ll encounter people who have no other purpose than to talk down to you. Don’t listen to them. If your style of photography differentiates from the masses, you will receive a fair share of hate/negative feedback but don’t let them get under your skin. Continue photographing for yourself and create the images that you’re proud of – don’t let others influence you.
Think about this: does your favorite photographer stand out from the others or does he/she create the same images as everyone else? Most likely, it’s the first. The artists who stick out and are able to make a name for themselves are those who are able to stay true to their vision and continue to create the art that makes them happy.
Study, Study, Study
The number one most important thing you can do in order to improve your craft is to study, not necessarily at a school but read books, go to galleries, study the work of others.
There are numerous free resources (like CaptureLandscapes) that teach you more or less everything you need to know. For even more in-depth topics there are eBooks, Video Courses and books that will help you as well.
If you’re completely new to photography, my eBook A Comprehensive Introduction to Landscape Photography is a good place to start, in order to learn the fundamentals. Once you’ve learned the basics of the camera, Michael Freeman’s “The Photographer’s Eye” is a great book that will teach you more about composition. These books don’t need to be specific for landscape photography; the concepts remain the same.
If you dream of becoming a full-time professional photographer, there’s no time to lay on the lazy side – it’s hard work and you need to be 100% committed to it. You’ll need to invest your time in studying, being out with the camera, connecting, marketing and so much more.
It’s a common misconception that a landscape photographer spends all day every day traveling and photographing – that’s not quite true. Most days aren’t quite that exotic and you’ll have to be prepared to spend time doing much less interesting things as well. However, if photography truly is your passion, the thrill of being outdoors with a camera outweighs the less interesting days.
Learn How to Use Light
Light is by far the most important factor in photography; without it, there’s no picture to be captured. Understanding how to benefit from available light is something that many beginning landscape photographers struggle with. This may be due to the fact that they’re out “snapping” images of everything they see but it remains one of the most revealing signs of a beginning photographer.
Different light has the possibility to make or break an image. In dull light, a scene can look boring but in better light, the image can become a masterpiece. Light changes everything in a scene, so if you’ve found an interesting subject, be patient and wait for better light.
Unfortunately, light isn’t always great and, especially when traveling, you got to accept that you can’t be lucky every time. That being said, even though the light isn’t ideal if you wish to capture the grand landscape it can be good on the smaller details or other parts of the scene – so don’t give up just yet.