A Different Approach to Landscape Photography

Have you ever made a shot list for a landscape photography location only to end up disappointed or disconnected from your final images? Maybe you need a new approach.

In this video from professional landscape photographer David Johnston, he admits that he feels your pain and has been there before. Rushing into a location and drilling out your shots can end with messy results. During a recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, Johnston took a different approach. He slowed down.

With no agenda, there is a freedom in both the timing of creating images as well as in your mind by not setting yourself up with expectations. For my own photography, half the time I also try following this approach where from the moment I get out of my car, I’ll just wander until I see something interesting to me and start pulling on that thread to find where it leads. I have no expectation it’s going to go anywhere, but in that moment I’m enjoying myself get lost in something different. In the end, if I’m fortunate, I come away with a photo that I feel much more connected to.

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Simon Patterson's picture

I always shoot landscapes like he suggests. I get a feel for a place first, before putting the camera gear in my hand. Then, as the creative juices start to flow, I choose the lens and settings to meet the challenge of photographing the opportunities that I observe.

This doesn't stop the "rushing" at all, though. This is because the light is always changing, and getting to the desired position and changing to the appropriate lens must always be done before the light changes and the opportunity is lost.

This need to be quick to take the opportunities presented by the light is simply part of the challenge of landscape photography. The only way to successfully approach that challenge is to embrace the fact that sometimes you need to rush to take advantage.

Liam Doran's picture

This is the classic "hunter vs. gatherer" work style. Both can be good...but I also prefer slowing it down and connecting with your surroundings. My favorite way to shoot landscapes is on a multi-day backpack trip. That really slow shootings down and immerse you into the landscape.

Randy Mull's picture

Just curious, what gear did you use, and where are you working out of?