By definition landscape photography is a flat illustration of a small portion of a grander scene of the world. Most photographs have a particular subject that is focused on to tell a visual story; in landscape photography the details of the scenery are the subjects.
Landscape photographs are created for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons landscape photos are created is to recall a personal observation or experience while in the outdoors, this occurs most when people are traveling. Other individuals practice landscape photography particularly as an outdoor lifestyle or to be involved with nature and the elements. Then there are people like me, who are passionate about creating a story and invoke a mood out of the landscape. For me my time exploring the landscape is like an escape from the artificial world. There is nothing more calming to me than hearing nothing but the birds and sounds of nature.
Many landscape photographers try to show few people in their landscape photographs. Our world features subjects such as strongly defined land forms, coastlines, baron lands, weather, and ambient light etc. all of which could be used to tell a story to another individual. Not everyone in the world has the ability to travel. Not everyone has access to a warm sandy beach, to the icecaps of Antarctica or to a vast mountain range. Most successful landscape photographers know this and use this to wow their audience.
Subjects of Landscape Photography
There is a long time argument among photographers of the definition of landscape photography, with no solution in sight…in my opinion they are over analyzing things and killing the joy of creating. Believe it or not, there are some photographers out there that will argue until they are blue in the face that coastline, and scenes with man-made structures should not be considered as a landscape photo. However, I feel that there is a great importance of showing the balance of nature and of human influences, we are in fact part of nature. Regardless of what is in the scene, it is all part of the vast array of landscapes in this world.
Environmentalism / Documentary Landscape Photography:
Environmentalism / Documentary Landscape Photography is purely natural scenes with no human influence what so ever; only the details created by mother nature are visible in the landscape photo. Depending on the subject matter and composition of the scene, these types of landscapes could also be considered under the “Nature photography” genre.
Urban landscape is landscape photographs with city scenes and possibly a city scene with a lot of human activity. Other genres that could be included in this category are:
Cityscape Photography – The “big scene” the grandness of the city.
Architectural Photography – More focused on the architecture and the activity in or around it.
Candid Street Photography – The human activity interacting in the city landscape.
Seascapes are landscape photographs that showcases a scene of the coastline, a beach scene, or the vast expanse of the ocean. The most compelling seascape photographs to viewers seem to be the scenes where land and the water meet. Seascape can also have human activity or man-made structures.
Rural Landscape Photography
Rural Landscape Photography depicts a landscape scene with little to no humans visible but has some trace of man within the photograph. Most of the time these a photographs created in outlying areas of the city or suburbia, such as farmlands.
Styles of Landscape Photography
There is no right or wrong way of creating landscape photographs and no “rules” to abide by. However, there are different styles of Landscape photography. Each style has their own unique qualities that depict different stories, invoke emotions or show the landscape in a different manner than which it’s seen with the naked eye. There are three styles of landscape photography: representational, impressionistic and abstract.
Representational Landscape Photographs:
Representational Landscape Photographs are the truest photographs of a scene. These types of photographs are mostly used for educational or documentary purposes. Representational landscape photographs are very straightforward with minimal to no manipulation of the scene or in post-production. One of the most famous representational US landscape photographers that comes to my mind is Dorothea Lange, for her work during the Great Depression for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). She documented the conditions of the land and of the human conditions during the depression. There was no artistic value to her photographs; they were simply created to learn about the impact of the war. Representational Landscape Photographs are also used heavily in textbooks, science, and in photojournalism because they are so true to the real scene.
Impressionistic Landscape Photography:
Impressionistic Landscape Photography is an artistic view of a landscape scene. The landscape photographer employs photographic techniques and their own personal vision to create a photograph that has a more powerful, a more emotional or more creative view of the scene. These types of photographs are subjective because each person that views the photograph could feel something different about the scene. Impressionistic Landscape Photographs are less tangible and more unreal, than representational landscape photographs but they still retain their values of a landscape photo because of the features of the scene. The viewer is given the impression of a landscape photographer’s perspective of the scene rather than the clear reality of the scene.
Abstract Landscape Photography:
Abstract Landscape Photography is also an artistic view of a landscape scene. The landscape photographer has the ability to manipulate the scene until it is completely unrecognizable to the viewer, if the photographer so chooses. Abstract Landscape Photograph has a wide range of creative avenues to explore such as color or light manipulation, extraction and addition of elements and so much more. Just like Impressionistic Landscape Photography; Abstract landscape photography is very subjective and will not be understood by everyone who views it. Some viewers will be wowed or moved by the landscape photographers, some viewers will have an emotional connection to the creation, while viewers only see a picture.
It doesn’t matter what type style or subject of the landscape you like to photograph, create what you like to see and share with others. This article is only written to help you define some of the different types of photography in order to understand and share what you are creating more effectively. From the viewers of the photographic artwork, hopefully this article helps you define what you are viewing and help you open your mind to the artist’s perspective.
About the Photographer:
Melissa Fague is an emerging nature and landscape photographer from Bear, Delaware USA. In just a few short years her work has been published over two dozen times and she has won multiple national and international awards for her beautiful photographs. Her most recent accomplishment is her first published in an international publication with a worldwide distribution, “Landscape Photography Magazine”. Melissa is passionate about the art of photography and nature. Exploring areas and creating photographs is her form of stress relief and art therapy, but she also loves to share her visions so that others can enjoy. All of Melissa’s beautiful nature and landscape photographs are available for purchase on multiple mediums, such as signed limited edition canvas gallery wraps, Limited and signed fine art prints and traditional reproductions wall art to accent your home or office decor. Also in the realm of office and home decor, a selection of Melissa’s photographs are available on decorative items. All photographic prints and home / office decor items can be found on PIPA Fine Art.