Shoot What You Know and Love
Becoming a professional nature and landscape photographer is no easy task. An artist not only needs to practice the craft of photography continuously but they also need to learn about the business of photography. As much as I would love to pack my bags and roam the world taking photographs all along the way, I can’t….not yet anyway; I am still a “one man show” so to speak. At this point in my career as a nature and landscape photographer I have been published, won several awards nationally and internationally and I have started exploring outside of my region but I am still battling obscurity. Meaning, I’m still fighting to be seen as an artist. About 80% of my time is dedicated to marketing, networking and trying to make sales, which makes it hard to drop everything and run to glorious locations around the world, no matter how badly I want to see them.
You don’t need to live in exotic places to create beautiful landscape photographs, shoot what you know. Every part of the world has something to offer to the world of photography and fine art. For example there are people who live in the central part of the United States who will more than likely never see or experience the ocean and the beaches. There are people around the world that will never experience the Urban landscape of New York City and there are people in this world who will never explore outside their own country. The list could go on, the point is that you know your hometown, you may even know locations throughout your region. You are familiar with the types of wildlife and foliage in your area for nature photographs. Unless you are have exceptional photographic skills and you are making money on your photographs like Peter Lik or Trey Ratcliffe you do not need to spend a chunk of money on a trip just to create beautiful landscape and nature photographs while you’re learning. Don’t disregard photographic projects of where you live just because you think you have seen all it has to offer. Try to look at your part of the world though eyes of another.
If you live in Alaska, there are beautiful snow-capped mountains right within your reach but that’s not the only kind of nature out there that could be stunning to another person. New York City, has a beautiful contrast between the elements of central park and the concrete and rush of life in the high rises. These things may seem ordinary to you because you see them every day but to the rest of the world these subject could be very compelling. Go to the same location at different times of the day, visit them during the different seasons and use those elements to enhance the overall scene. These subtle changes may even teach you something new.
Nature has always been a big part of my life and it is one of the main inspirations for my creativity. Having grown up in Delaware, I’ve spent most of my life wandering the woods, rivers, fields and the beaches around me. Even today, wandering the woods or strolling the beaches and marshes gives me a sense of peace that I don‘t feel anywhere else. So it was no surprise that landscapes and nature photography seem the most natural to me when I was exploring the different genres of photography. However, I don’t like to limit myself to just those genres, I definitely experiment with capturing a variety of subjects in my work. I absolutely love it when I can “WOW” a local with a photograph of places they have seen so many times before.
You know where you live and if you have a passion for photography than try to look at your world with fresh eye before venturing off to great distances. This will not only help you focus on the smaller details but it will help you refine your techniques. I bet there is something about your hometown that you have never explored before. I challenge you to tell me a photographic story about your hometown, it could be landscape, nature, candid, or a narrative… whatever you love to photograph. Once you’re done ping back to this article so that others can see your work and join in the on challenge.