In this excellent installment of the B&H Prospectives video series, photographer Robert Rodriguez Jr. explains what goes in to taking successful landscape images, offers his thought process while out in the field, and dives in to some worthy ideas to inspire the development of your art.
As Rodriguez Jr. explains, more inexperienced photographers tend to focus their eyes on subjects. If you take notice however, you will find that many professionally photographed landscape images are much more about interesting light or moodiness than they are about subject matter. A photo taken in your backyard of a back-lit blade of grass in the soft morning light is going to be more captivating than a photo of the grand canyon snapped at noon. One of my personal favorite photographers, Jay Maisel, refers to this quality as light, gesture, and color. According to Maisel, good images have two of those features working for it, and incredible images have all three. Notice that subject isn’t relevant in his formula.
Another bit of important insight shared in this video is the value of photographing familiar landscapes over and over again. When you visit the same location during different weather, time of day or lighting, you can easily identify what is a special moment for that particular scene. In photographing an area many times over, setting up a working composition in a short amount of time and capturing that fleeting special moment offers a better chance at a successful image.
At the end of the video, Rodriguez Jr. briefly makes a case for the printed image. Inspired by Ansel Adams, Robert has made printmaking a large part of his landscape photography workflow. In a world where we are sharing most of our photos on iPhones and computers, having a printed product that’s tangible and that you can engage with shows yourself and others that you are serious and committed to the process of making art. Rodriguez also believes that the printmaking process makes your work more valid and honest. In my own experiences, I have found this to be very true. The difference in reaction between showing someone one of my images on the iPhone versus the printed version is always an escalated excitement for the latter.
You can find more videos from the Prospectives series on the B&H YouTube channel.