As you may have already guessed I am a passionate Landscape and Seascape photographer from Ireland.
These tips are completely different from the normal photography tips you will read anywhere as these won't cost you a single cent and will work with any camera on the market.
So I have taken a risk and possibly opened myself up for some serious ridicule posting these. These won't make you a better photographer overnight but they certainly will transform your photography if you take them on board.
So go sit in a comfy chair put the feet up and have a read.
My top 3 Landscape photography tips.
(More to follow shortly)
So what drives me, inspires me and pushes me to capture the images I personally like?
Well, it's all explained in my tips below.
If you are tempted to skip a few of these tips then I urge you not to. The photographer in you will thank you afterwards. Take a few mins and have a read, it will all make sense I promise you.
1.- My first tip is to be true to yourself.
Now don't click off this post just yet and give me a minute to explain why this is for me is the most important element in Landscape photography.
The very most important element in any photograph is you, always remember that.
You are the one pressing the shutter button and changing the settings.
You are the one that is capturing this moment in time, showing the world what you thought of it and directing them to what you want them to see (I will get back to that in a later tip).
Most photographers I know don't give the artist in them enough credit.
Photography is after all an art form that uses the real world as its canvas and your creative skill as its paintbrush.
So yes the world might be what we capture but we have the power to completely change the viewer's opinion of the scene from the creative control we can exercise at the time.
You are the most important element in a photograph as it's your control over the final photograph that makes you a photographer and also what makes a great photograph.
I am not talking about all the techy stuff (I will get to that a bit later).
I mean taking what you want from an image and showing that to the world. Giving that view a story in someone else's mind, how utterly powerful is that? You are changing how someone else views that little slice of the world...
Now some people might run for the hills when they hear me talking like this as a photograph is a photograph, that's where I believe they are wrong.
If you spend the time and really think about it, every view has a small story to tell. We need to give that respect, this is our opportunity to let the world see and feel what we personally took from the view and how we saw it.
We can all point a camera at something and press a button but a photographer does more than that. They invest the time and a bit of thought in the image, from simply studying the light and thinking how it will change and how you could use that. Noticing movement, patterns or object placement are all vital elements in improving your photography.
For me, a technically good photograph that's poorly composed is nearly worse than a well-composed photograph that's technically weak.
Why? Well because you can see what the photographer was thinking or trying to do with their image. The technical image lacks character and often comes across as being a snapshot.
Ok, so that's the thought process but what did I mean about being true to yourself? Well, I always take photographs for myself first, not to please others or to do well on social media.
To be happy with what you do is by far the most important element for me. To capture an honest image, something you can proudly hang on your wall.
The other serious element behind chasing likes on social media is your following will get used to you posting certain styles of images, if you ever then really post what you love it won't be well received and that can set a very negative standard for your own personal work then.
Anyway getting back to the point again.
You also have to remember every photograph has this fantastic ability to transport you back to the very moment you took it. To help you feel it all over again, like some kind of magical teleportation device. All you have to do is look at it and you're back there again, it might have been ten years ago and the memories are fading slightly but one look at that photograph and you're right back there at that moment in time, it's this sensation that makes a photograph priceless.
That for me is the raw power of photography, that single moment frozen in time hanging on your wall like a gateway or portal to a wonderful memory.
So tip number one is all about your mindset and not your camera. From my workshops, I have found this is by far the number one mistake people make.
Don't think what others would do, go with that inner artist in you and produce something that's yours. Don't be caught following the trend.
So we need to be true to ourselves and capture what we love.
Remember "You will always be good at what you love"
2.- Take the Time
To capture a photograph I treat every single image with the respect I feel it truly deserves.
We need to immerse ourselves deeply into it. It's not just pop out the camera, fire off 10 shots and move onto the next epic location.
That works for some people but to truly capture how a scene makes you feel you need to stop and think about how you can convey that.
Yes tip1 and tip 2 are very similar but stay with me.
In this modern world with the advances of digital photography (which by the way are amazing), we have sadly lost the respect for each individual photograph.
In days gone by photographers thought about their photographs a lot more as a roll of film had only a limited number of exposures on it. You had to really look at your photograph and invest some serious effort into it. Now people just keep on firing off different exposures and different angles and go home and select the one they like on their computer, which by the way is perfectly ok, just not what I like to do.
Photography is not about going out and shooting so fast it's nearly video with over 400 photographs in a single hour. This hit and miss strategy is about luck and not conveying any insight into your photograph.
I urge workshop clients to slow down, to take a breath enjoy the moment and see the image speak through all the noise around them. If you take a shot and don't like it then ask yourself why and learn from it.
Most photographers try to learn from the shots they like. My whole point is to take fewer photographs you don't like so when that magical moment surfaces you don't mess it up. The bad shots are the ones to learn from.
Years ago I was out taking photographs with a very well known photographer and I noticed he just completely slowed down, he seemed to exaggerate everything he did, sat and looked around for 30 mins then just got up took his camera out of his bag and fired off 6 or 7 shots all with different compositions, put the camera back in the bag and sat down his work done.
That completely blew my mind at the time, what's worse is all his photographs were better than mine. That's when I noticed he was working the way I always wanted to. This single event changed everything for me.
Yes life is crazy busy now and we are all rushing around trying to cram the most into our day but that will never work for photography.
It's a bit like cooking, cook roast pork in an oven for hours and it's just divine, put the same bit of meat in a large microwave for 30 mins and yes it's probably cooked but who wants to eat that? Ps... as I am starting to go more vegan so I really deliberated over this example :-)
Certain Photography is simple.
Needing to travel to stunningly beautiful places to take good photographs, then for me that's not photography.
You can't fail by going to a stunning place and taking that photo we have all seen on Instagram or Facebook, that's merely monkey see monkey do.
To capture a photograph of an incredibly beautiful place you just need to be there, it's really that simple.
I am not knocking anyone that does this I am just pointing out that it won't improve your photography. It will improve the end result of your images but the improvement is coming from the location and not you. Going on a proper workshop in a stunning location is a different thing altogether though.
Again back to the point.
Now to convert the average into something special needs thought and a bit of time. That is the skill, that is what we should all strive for. I have witnessed photographs being created literally out of nothing and to be honest it still sends a shiver down my spine, watching people just transform a view.
So do yourself a favour and invest the time in your work, slow down and find that keeper photograph and you won't be sorry.
The top two tips so far have been based on you, from here on-wards we focus on how to help you capture the image you have in your mind's eye.
3.- Use a Tripod
I can't emphasise that enough so let me say it again use a tripod, if you don't have one then please go out and get one, try it for a while and you can thank me later. Yes you might feel a bit stupid at the start and a little bit clumsy. I recommend you go somewhere quiet and just work it out.
No, it's not for any technical reason at all. It is purely because it will give you a break from holding the camera and no it's not what you think. This break is vital as it helps you take the images you want.
So if you are following the first two tips you have now figured out Landscape photography can be a bit time-consuming and involves a bit of thought.
We really focus on specific elements of a photograph and build from there. Where a tripod is groundbreaking is it keeps your camera pointing at what you want to capture and yes this is the key as it gives you two free hands. Suddenly the pressure is off and you're not trying to do everything at once with a camera strap wrapped around your neck and two hands full, just think for a minute about how restricting that is.
Ok, so now we know a tripod will help you relax and physically take the pressure off you by giving you two free hands. The other advantage a tripod gives you is the ability to take a shot and playback the image all the while the composition hasn't changed as your camera is locked on the view.
Now the other common complaint clients have that a tripod can fix is "the shot never looked right when I got home".
There are a few reasons for this but one of the most common problems I see is what I call "association" people take a photograph and associate what they see while they stand behind the camera with what their camera has captured.
When they get home they then truly see what they captured and it wasn't the photograph they thought it was.
This is a classical example while on a one to one session with a client I asked the client to take a photograph of something they liked, they described how they loved the branch in the water and how the sunlight was bouncing off it and the rocks around it, while hoping to capture the setting sun also in the composition.
All setup and the technicalities done the photograph was taken.
After asking if they were happy with it the response was a certain yes.
I then asked where the branch and the stones were in the photograph. They were completely missing as they had been accidentally cropped out while working on the technicalities of the image and moving the camera about.
It was never noticed. Even though the client looked at the final image and loved it.
When they got home, of course, it would have been noticed but then it would have been too late.
I urge clients to take a shot and afterwards look away at another view then turn around with a fresh pair of eyes and look only at the playback of the image and not the view. That's when you see the truth of what's really there the same way you do when you are at home on your computer, only now you still have the chance to correct it.
So they were the first 3 tips I have for you in Landscape photography, thank you for reading it. The second part (coming soon) will concentrate on the technical elements of capturing a photograph.
The third part will be about equipment that can help you capture the images you want and how these little and large items can help you along the way.
So yes the first part was a bit out there but the remaining two are a lot more normal.
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Kieran Hayes Photography
Top 10 photography tips from an Award-winning photographer
Kieran Hayes Photography
5.0 Star rating
8th of February 2020