Why Landscape Photography?
It’s no secret that landscape photography is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, style of photography nowadays. Have a look at one of the gazillion photo-sharing social networks such as Instagram, Flickr or 500px and you’ll see it by yourself that landscape photography is the biggest category…and rightly so. Who doesn’t like stunning mountains, rugged coastlines, pine trees in the mist or pristine alpine lakes (just to mention a few)? I mean who doesn't like Nature? Only a fool would voluntarily refuse to capture the beauty and majesty of our beautiful planet. But why is landscape photography so popular? Well, I can start by saying that digital cameras now are so powerful and affordable that basically everyone can use them, but this would lead to a geeky gear debate that I am not fond of. Or I can say that social networks created a real “hunt for instagrammable locations” for likes-worshippers and F4F idiots, which transformed the art of landscape photography in just a tasteless "stamps collection" or "run to popularity", but I would get angry pretty soon and smash my keyboard (and I need my keyboard). Or maybe I can tell you that people simply love landscape photography because it helps them re-connect with Mother Nature and makes them appreciate more this amazing planet of ours. Yes, I really hope this is the reason why people are embracing landscape photography, but only time will tell I guess. Actually, there’s no easy answer to this question and unfortunately it's probably a mixture of reasons, but I hope to use this topic as an introduction to how I fell in love with photography and why I started this blog…and yes, it’s another blog about landscape/travel photography, but hopefully a useful one.
I fell in love with photography during a solo backpacking trip to Peru and Bolivia in 2015. At the time, I felt I was a great photographer because of my new camera, my 2 brand new lenses and all the fancy 2$ accessories I bought on Amazon (like a dorky clip-on lens pouch made of weird plastic which didn't work...*Facepalm*). Truth be told, I did not have any idea or knowledge of composition, light, subject, settings, RAW files, ISO, white balance, shutter speed, focus, aperture, bracketing, dynamic range, focus stacking, exposure triangle, exposure blending, post-processing, Lightroom, Photoshop, tripod, histogram, filters. Basically, I did not know anything about photography and I was just shooting in Auto mode all the time. I was just another tourist with a camera, but a tourist with passion that lead me to study and appreciate more the art of photography. During that trip, I did take couple of decent-like snapshots (decent not good nor great) and I forced myself to practice more and more and more my skills to represent Nature at its best. When I flew back to Scotland (I was living in Scotland at the time), I started to study the basics of photography, to watch endless YouTube videos and to observe the portfolios of the top landscape photographers. I remember browsing endless amazing pictures of landscapes around the world thinking: “Man, I really want to see these places and take pictures like these ones”. I then ventured out on sunrise and sunset sessions freezing my ass off in the cold, rainy, windy and miserable Scottish winter, but not to “get the shot”, only to try to understand how my camera worked and how to play with the light and subject. I remember standing on a remote lake shore in the Trossachs National Park, literally freezing my bones and trying to take pictures of the sunset and then the stars over Ben Lomond. I think I stayed up all night, came away with nothing and went straight to work. I still enjoyed the experience and I smile every time I think about those moments spent in the cold. That was it…I was hooked, brutally hooked.
Nobody is born a professional landscape photographer and nobody actually becomes a professional landscape photographer. To be at the top of the game you have to constantly evolve and learn something new every day. Believe me, the road to become just a decent landscape photographer is full of failures, frustration, drenched clothes and wet shoes, not to mention of shitty pictures as well. Still, for me, it’s also the beauty of it. The reason why I choose and love landscape photography is because of my love for the outdoors and our natural world. I love the challenge of landscape photography because, let’s be honest, IT IS NOT EASY. Many people say that landscape photography is popular because it's easy, but that is not entirely true (actually it isn’t true at all). Everybody can take a good picture every now and then, but getting a great picture requires patience, strong will, skills, resilience and the freaking weather gods by your side. It is not easy to wake up at 3 in the morning, to drive 1 to 2 hours or to hike up a mountain in the dark for 1 to 2 hours (sometimes both), to be then in position to catch the sunrise, which might not happen the way you wanted because it’s too cloudy (thanks weather apps). It is not easy to stay in freezing cold conditions, wondering if your camera will survive the polar temperatures and worrying about your filters fogging up, while you are trying to compose the shot, because that is the place, the light and the moment you want to capture. It is not easy to wait several minutes for a long exposure by the lake, while you are literally being eaten alive by mosquitoes or midges that systematically sit on your bloody 10 stop ND filter (as always). It is not easy to walk or run around with your heavy camera, glass filters and tripod on sharp cliffs to choose a compelling composition because you can’t find one and the sunset of the century is happening right in front of you. And again, it is not easy to control your frustration when you discover that all the “great pictures” of that amazing sunrise you have witnessed while wild camping on top of windy Glen Coe are worthless because they were shot with ISO8000 and you f*****g didn’t notice that (Too personal?!).
At this point you might think: Dude, do you even like photography? And, is this suffering worth it? I would reply YES to both straight away. It is always worth it. At least it is worth it for me and definitely for almost all the other photographers I met on the field (I just guessed, I didn’t really ask them). I love nature, I love the outdoors and I love capturing the ever-changing beauty of this planet. Simple as that. There is always something to take home from every outing; can be “the shot”, can be a good picture with a new interesting composition of an overly-shot location, it can be location scouting or it can be a new lesson that had to be learnt. Practice and perseverance are the keys to a great landscape photo and the essence of landscape photography itself (in my humble opinion). All the sweat, the sore feet, the wet clothes, the frozen fingers, the broken filters, the shivering cold and the long wait for the perfect light will be forgotten when capturing this beautiful world of ours. Pain, cold, hot, wet, tiredness and sweat are all temporary, but a picture is forever (*crying on keyboard*). Cheesy lines aside, this is why I love landscape photography. I won’t lie to you, it is hard and it will challenge you, but dammit if it’s worth it.