Recently, photographer Mark Denney posted a video of the worst photography advice he’d received when he was a fresh budding young landscape photographer. But just as important as knowing what not to do is knowing what you should be doing. So, Mark’s put another video together of the best landscape photography advice he received when he was getting started.
In any genre of photography, there will always be a lot of advice thrust upon you, especially these days in the age of social media. But not all advice is good advice. It can be difficult, though, when you’re new and inexperienced to be able to spot the good from the bad, so Mark’s ordered this good advice that he received by personal importance and how they applied to his progression, in reverse order with the most important last.
9. Shoot more
This doesn’t mean shoot more often (although that’s also good advice). He literally means, to shoot more. When you go out to photograph your landscapes, shoot everything. Don’t just head out for one specific image, that only happens at a certain time on certain days of the year when the stars align just right. Shoot everything. Shoot the light leading up to what you’re waiting for, and keep shooting after it has passed. You might surprise yourself with just how good it looks. The bad shots will also help to teach you more about what does or doesn’t work.
8. Stay late (or arrive early)
At many popular public locations, you might find yourself shooting next to a whole array of photographers. Once the “main event” lighting situation has happened, most of them will pack up and clear off. Sometimes it pays to wait until they’ve all gone and carry on shooting. You’ll be creating images that they haven’t during blue hour, and it can sometimes lead to more amazing images than the sunset itself. This also applies to arriving before everybody else, shoot before they get in your way (it also means you might be able to get the best vantage point).
7. Turn around
We get so caught up on location that it can be difficult to be fully aware of our surroundings, especially as the light changes. Sometimes the light we’re seeing in front of us looks so good that we’re completely oblivious to how it might be lighting up the environment behind us. So, as you’re waiting for the light to get just right for the shot you want to take, keep looking around to see how it’s hitting everything else. You might see something you hadn’t previously considered.
6. Shoot raw
This one might seem like a tired old argument, but Mark suggests it not because they offer the most latitude over jpg files, but because they force you to think. Raw files have to be processed, whereas jpgs can be used straight out of camera. That process of forcing you to process the raw file makes you think about exactly how you want the image to look to bring the best out of it. You’re not just settling for what the camera thinks it saw and it’ll make you learn more about highlights, shadows, contrast and colour in your photography
5. Shift your perspective
We get stuck into physical routines when we go out to shoot. Sometimes this can be a good thing as it can give our work some level of consistency. But try switching up your perspective. Maybe get lower to the ground, or raise your camera higher than you normally would in order to get a different perspective on the scene in front of you.
4. Research and plan
It’s easy to believe when we’re just starting out that all these big-name photographers are just “lucky”, that they happen to just miraculously be in the right place at the right time very often in order to produce amazing photography. But 99% of the time this is not the case. They’re just very good at planning. They might’ve been to a location 20 times in order to fully know the lay of the land and how it looks from different vantage points. They also understand how the light will look given a certain set of weather conditions, and then they look for those in the forecast and plan ahead to be there during those times. Plus, they only share their keepers. The rest end up in the trash.
3. Foreground Focus
This doesn’t mean literally set your camera’s focus to the foreground but focus as in “pay attention to”. Foreground elements can help to ground your shot and provide a sense of depth and scale that just wouldn’t otherwise be there. It can be a bit formulaic, but when you’re starting out, it’s good advice to follow. Once you get more adept at landscape photography, you’ll start to understand when it’s ok to lose the foreground and use other elements to provide depth.
2. Flip it
Newer photographers often get stuck into the thinking that landscape photos need to be shot in landscape orientation. I mean, the clue’s in the name, right? But flip your camera over, shoot some in a vertical portrait orientation, too. It can often add a new perspective to a location or scene that takes it far beyond what you might’ve originally expected. Going back to Tip #9, shoot more. You don’t have to give up the landscape shots to do it. Shoot both.
1. Enjoy the process
This goes for many forms of photography. Don’t get fixated on the end result. Enjoy going through the motions of creating it. Slow down, relax, think carefully and thoughtfully about what you want to create. Enjoy the process of coming up with the idea. Enjoy the process of researching and planning your visit to go make it. Enjoy the process of choosing the best gear to make the shot. Enjoy travelling to get to where you’re shooting. Enjoy being at the location and soaking it all in. Enjoy the process of editing the photograph and maybe even printing it.
While your audience may only see the end result, photography is a journey and so can be every photograph.
What’s the best piece of landscape photography advice you’ve ever been given?