Can You Learn Everything About Landscape Photography From YouTube?

Can You Learn Everything About Landscape Photography From YouTube?

YouTube has made it easier to improve your landscape photography. Videos are available about any facet of the topic you could want to explore. Are you confused about a technique? There is a video for it. But can you really learn everything about landscape photography from YouTube?

YouTube has made it much easier to learn things with a massive library of content available at our fingertips, one search away. Maybe it is a video on camera basics and understanding the exposure triangle. Perhaps a more advanced concept like focus stacking. Or maybe you are looking to improve your approach to composition to help make your images stronger.

With that extensive library of information, there is an increasing belief that you can learn everything from YouTube. There is no need for books, classes on the topic, or workshops. Why pay for education when you can simply watch YouTube and learn?

I regularly use YouTube for my landscape photography. I usually use it when I want to learn a particular technique or when trying to learn a feature my camera has that I haven’t tried before. Just a search or two later, I have several sources of information to choose from.

Are There Limitations to Learning From YouTube?

I am also a content creator on YouTube. I enjoy talking about photography on that platform, whether it be about specific landscape photography techniques or particular pieces of photography gear. My goal as a content creator is to provide helpful and useful content to people interested in landscape photography.

However, I believe there are limitations to relying solely on YouTube as a source of information or education. Despite all the information available on the platform, I think there are gaps that exist and relying just on YouTube might be holding you back in your landscape photography.

What Are the Limitations of YouTube?

YouTube excels at showing you how to do specific tasks, how a camera setting works, how to adjust contrast in an image, or rules of composition. However, it is much harder to explain and demonstrate the why or when to use these techniques cohesively. The content is fragmented and disjointed, leaving you with a weaker foundation than some other, more traditional vehicles for learning.

Even within channels, there is fragmentation. One week, it discusses a specific piece of gear, the next, the top five rules of composition, and the next, how to adjust contrast in Lightroom in three different ways. If you start to bounce between creators when researching a topic, the fragmentation can get worse. Or you can see two different photographers doing similar tasks differently, but there is no real explanation as to why.

I see this frequently in workshops. I will be working with someone and they will know how to do something but not have a deeper understanding of knowing why they would want to do something or when. This is sometimes as important or more important than knowing how to do something.

What Is the Solution?

When I start learning something, I eagerly look up and research the things that excite or most interest me. YouTube is great for that; it rewards that quite quickly by letting me watch videos on those specific topics. However, I know through experience that I often miss foundational elements of a topic because I think some aspect is tedious or uninteresting.

I counter that by usually seeking out a more formal class or workshop. When I first returned to photography several years ago, I enrolled in two community college classes: basic digital photography and basic Adobe Photoshop. I knew those courses would help build a foundation to work off of moving forward. A more structured class wouldn’t let me skip past a photography fundamental that might be crucial for my growth as a photographer.

As I mentioned above, I often work with people who know how to do things but haven’t learned when to apply that knowledge to their work or combine concepts they know in order to make a leap in their pursuit of photography.

If you’ve found yourself watching YouTube video after YouTube video but stagnating in your photography, I encourage you to seek out a class or workshop to help you put the pieces you know together to help advance your photography. Classes or workshops can be the glue to help piece it all together.

Jeffrey Tadlock's picture

Jeffrey Tadlock is an Ohio-based landscape photographer with frequent travels regionally and within the US to explore various landscapes. Jeffrey enjoys the process and experience of capturing images as much as the final image itself.

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YouTube takes the fear of looking foolish away - at the expense of being able to interact with someone teaching the subject.

Years ago, I had a lightbulb moment while sitting in an Electronic Engineering calculus class. I had previously taken a pure maths A-Level at college - which I failed. It did, however, teach me enough to get started and I was working methodically through one of the examples. I looked up and recognized an expression of fear and incomprehension on the faces of several of my classmates. It was probably the same look I had during my A-Level.

So I did something simple. I asked the lecturer to go through the example, asked him to explain each step, asked him questions about each step. Then something interesting happened. The people around me started asking questions, and soon people started talking to each other, working through the problem together.

As soon as everyone realized that they weren't the only one, the fear of looking foolish disappeared. Then the excitement happens, when you start to understand something new.

YouTube is an incredible source of information. But it could never replace having a real expert, a real teacher, bringing you from no understanding to the beginning of something new.

That's a wonderful example! And I like how you started the comment, 'YouTube takes the fear of looking foolish away'. I like that.

And I do agree, YouTube is a great resource, I use it frequently to figure out how to do some specific thing, or get a high-level understanding of some concept - but as you said, interacting with people in a workshop, classroom setting, or some other setting can really help form the glue between all the pieces!

YouTube has its place for lots of subjects. I check it periodically for woodworking and fishing. One can get some great information there. I have an interest in landscape photography as the Southeast mountains offer many opportunities. Now that I'm in the digital world, I can review the photo on the camera, tweak it with different settings and then edit back at the office. Jeffrey, thanks for the information.

So many questions can be answered by YouTube - that's for sure! I used it for instructions for installing a roof rack, I've used it to craft a plan for fixing some stairs in our house - it is a great resource to learn or figure out how to do specific tasks.