Every location has a story, so what story can we tell with our photographs? You may have heard me speak about the “IT FACTOR” before, so what exactly does this mean? Simple… it is the one thing that makes every subject, animal, person and landscape unique. Capturing that uniqueness is the first step in telling the whole story of the landscape. Before I plan a landscape shoot, I research the area. I read about the geology, botany and history of the location and get a feel for what makes the place special. When I arrive to scout my shot locations, I already have a good understanding of the story I want to tell through my photographs.
While the story doesn’t end after the sunrise, it is the moment when the photographic journey begins and is the main subject of the big landscape story. When the alarm goes off, we put on our gear and with anticipation head out to catch the sunrise. This is the most thrilling part of the day. No longer sleepy, filled with excitement and in place as we wait for the light. Then it happens. Sometimes with a loud and dramatic sky, and sometimes more subtle and quiet, but either way, we begin to click our remotes and capture the drama of the sunrise, and it is always a magical experience.
There is a certain look on the face of a landscape photographer after sunrise and one I love to see. It is called peaceful. Once that look starts to fade, it is time to expand the story. After all, photography is not all about the grand landscape. There are many parts of the story yet to be told. This is when we challenge our creativity the most. When I stand within a landscape and have almost a 360º view, I always ask “what do I see right now that someone that has never been here may never see?” and the story expands. The answer is usually in the details.
The Story is in the Details
Finding simplicity in the landscape is one of the best ways to tell the whole story about your photographic adventure, and is the absolute best way to fine-tune your artistic skills. Use your research to help guide you to the smaller things around you. What unique formations are in your landscape? Are there trees, plants or flowers specific to the area? These subjects are part of the big story. I like to change lenses when photographing details. I will use a 24-70mm or a 70-20mm lens so that I can isolate the subject. Get up close and personal with your subject (unless it is dangerous for you or the subject).
Creative challenges are designed for fine-tuning your vision, and something I always encourage photographers to do. Spend time looking for shapes, color, textures and patterns, and photograph them! Photographing something simple and well is not easy to do, but it is a training method for your subconscious and very important for growing your photography. Sometimes the most simple of photos turn out to be the most eye-catching.
Why is this important? Because when you spend time looking for something different than your norm, you are actually training your eye to see different things. What eventually will happen, is that you will get to a grand landscape, and will be able to find that one small detail or pattern that will help you create a better landscape photo.
Finishing Your Story
The end of the day is a great time to finish up your story. Before the sun goes down, spend more time in the field capturing patterns and textures that will stand out very nicely with the sun low in the sky, and then get into place for your final sunset shot. Share the whole story with your friends and family, create a book and have fun!
Expand Your Creativity
If you are ready to expand your creativity, join us in one of our upcoming photo workshops. We will work with you and challenge your creativity every day. We will help you capture the whole story behind the big landscape. After all, photography is an art, a storyteller and a preserver of time. I look forward to sharing photography with you!