You should absolutely find inspiration from the photographic giants of our time — you’ll find plenty of fantastic content to help you grow. But maintaining a steady diet of not-so-famous photographers will help you enjoy their work without the rose-colored glasses we tend to wear when we see someone with 100k+ followers. It will even help you avoid survivorship bias, a cognitive bias that causes us to draw illogical conclusions from successes and ignore the more pressing lessons from failures.
It’s fair to say these lesser-known photographers keep my wanderlust well fed, and many of my favorite photos and locations are directly inspired by their work. They consistently teach me about composition, toning, and mood through their outstanding captures and post processing. But perhaps one of the more subtle benefits is that a smaller follower count often correlates with their willingness to interact with peers: if you want to learn how another photographer produced a particular image, they are just a Facebook message away.
In no particular order, here are my five favorite landscape photographers that you probably aren’t following.
I came across Norwegian photographer Christian Hoiberg just a few months ago thanks to some of his thoughtful articles on landscape photography. He’s a prolific writer and educator, and I’ve definitely spent a fair amount of time stalking his articles. But his jaw-dropping shots from Norway and the Faroe Islands tend to one-up the great content. I’ve been obsessed with this region the last couple years, and Christian captures the mood and elements of Norway with stellar compositions.
Earlier this year, I fell in love with Nicola Pirondini’s work, who seems to have no shortage of beautiful mountainscapes to capture and bring to life as an Italian photographer. My favorite subjects to shoot are mountains, snow, and alpenglow, so it’s no wonder I can’t stop staring at Nicola’s fantastically executed landscapes.
Nicola nails the toning and composition, creating images that deserve to be giant metal prints in a fine art gallery. Of the photographers I follow, I consistently find his work the hardest to tire of, in part because he doesn’t push colors or contrast. The soft style uses precious little dynamic range, but somehow it communicates depth, layers, haze, and mystery.
These shots in particular spoke to me and helped me figure out how to finish a foggy photo of South Stack Lighthouse.
You can keep up with Nicola’s alpine photography on his 500px page.
When I first ventured into landscape photography five years ago, German photographer Dennis Fischer was my source of inspiration. Even before I turned into a camera-toting globetrotter, his photography saw some mileage while I finished up my computer science degree: in my computational photography projects — like a program that used color theory to suggest the best collage arrangement — and in conference talks about using machine learning to recognize aesthetically-pleasing images.
It was a dream come true to see the Alps and Dolomites in person after following his work for five years. These shots are iconic of Dennis Fischer’s style, and the color palette is representative of a lot of his work:
Head over to Dennis Fischer’s Flickr page to keep up with his work.
While hunting for locations for my 15 day trip in Oregon, I kept bumping into photos of the Pacific Northwest by Majeed Badizadegan. Majeed’s portfolio is filled with dreamy, silky-smooth seascapes from Oregon and Washington.
Check out his Instagram feed to keep up with his waves of gorgeous, well, waves.
Oregon local Brian Adelberg helped me discover more than a few of the spots I shot in the Pacific Northwest. His coloring and low key lighting faithfully recreate the mood, especially paired with exceptional vertical compositions. If you are planning a trip to Oregon or Washington anytime soon and want to discover unique landscape photography spots, spend some time perusing his work.
Check out his 500px profile for Pacific Northwest inspiration.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Dyar
This lineup focused on lesser known photographers, so I left out a few equally inspirational folks who happen to have a larger following. But I make an exception for Washington-based photographer Ryan Dyar, whose work is simply too stunning not to mention. I’ve probably starred most of his Pacific Northwest shots, and until I have a chance to see Mt. Rainier myself, will continue to do so.
Which Photographers Inspire You?
Some photographers find it discouraging to follow other photographers. I can definitely empathize with the feeling: I found myself dealing with creative failures and impostor syndrome on my last trip. But most of the time, it’s nothing short of inspiring after I remind myself that growth comes through imitation, and with time and practice you can reach the same place they did.
Often the discouragement is rooted in unrealistic expectations we form from seeing other photographers’ successes, but not their failures. More than many other genres, landscape photography is full of failures and variables beyond our control. But that only makes it that much more rewarding when you land the shot.
So keep yourself inspired. Find peers who you feel are better than you, and especially those who aren’t flooded with large followings. Encourage them, interact with them, and learn from them by breaking down their techniques and trying to imitate their style. They’re human like you, and in general incredibly willing to share what they’ve learned from years of experience.
Do you have your own favorite, lesser-known photographers who inspire you? Give them a shout-out in the comments!
Lead image by Christian Hoiberg used with permission.