So, you want to be a landscape photographer? A travel photographer or a nature photographer? You want to dip into wildlife photography, or get your beautiful landscape image published in a photography magazine?
Well, we all have to start somewhere – and we are pleased that, for you, that somewhere is here.
But, honestly, we don’t want you to be here very long. Landscape photography doesn’t take place – at least not immediately – behind a computer screen or online. Rather, it happens out there in the world, where you’ll learn how to shoot, where you’ll get to grips with your camera gear, and where you’ll practice your compositional skills.
It will, at first, just be you and your landscape – a freedom with which, like any freedom, comes a sense of endless, overwhelming possibility. Where will I set up my tripod, you ask? Which natural landscape should I engage with? When all the world’s a landscape, where do I start?
This is why we have put together this series of photography tips – led by the locations themselves. We’ll tell you, across the world, which landscapes might be the best to photograph and why.
But this is just a starting point. Then, you’ll have to go into the world and find your own places.
The world is full of beautiful landscapes.
A landscape photographer takes photos of the beautiful places of the world – the interesting landscape, the inspiring landscape, and the downright amazing landscape.
They both capture and create – beauty, intrigue, and tension, through the camera lens. This is the important bit. People often think that all types of photography – street photography or portrait photography, nature photography or aerial photography – are generally passive endeavours, in which you point and shoot.
But it’s not like that. Photography is hugely creative – and this sort of creativity is pretty much unique amongst the arts. Because the creativity of the photographer comes in scouting locations, selecting sights, composing the shape and range of the image through the viewfinder, and using natural light to his or her advantage.
It’s about balancing the offer of the world with the potential of the image.
This is what landscape photographers do. And that’s not only images of wildernesses or unpeopled spaces. Landscapes are literally everywhere – from the seascape to the cityscape.
This is important because landscape photographers should not avoid the human element of the world in their images. They should not balk at the urban landscape or the still life.
Landscape photography, by its very nature, is hugely broad, almost all-encompassing. Its rather what you do with the image that is important.
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Landscape photography begins with a shot of a place – urban or rural, populated or desolate, lively with motion or still. But to translate and transpose that into the image that you hold in your hand, see in a museum, or gaze at in a magazine takes a lot of work.
Sure, you probably need a digital camera, but the other things that need to be considered are plentiful.
Because what makes a beautiful image is a combination of the shutter speed, the depth of field, the white balance. It’s a decision between a wide-angle lens and a fisheye, say. It’s a consideration of the desired sharpness of the image – or a reflection on whether this particular scene requires low light or bright.
The art of the photographer is a balance of all these different elements – plus the image editing software afterwards perhaps.
But it is also a supreme patience and a commitment to the shot. Because not any old photograph will do. If you are serious about being a professional photographer, it’s not enough to make do with your first or second shot. You want the perfect image – and this takes time.
As we said above, any landscape can contribute to the beauty of a photograph.
Think of Eugene Atget’s shots of alleyways and shop fronts in Paris. These are a landscape photography. Or Fay Godwin’s images of fairly unremarkable English landscapes. These too are beautiful works that are beautiful over and above the subjects of the photos.
So, it doesn’t matter so much where you take these photos. You could go to the most spectacular place on the planet – Everest, say – and come back with a load of average photographs. Or you could commit to photographing your street in your home town and change the art form of landscape photography.
The selection of the landscape is down to you in this respect. And once you are more experienced, comfortable, or knowledgeable, you will come to find your own preferred subject. Just as Ansel Adams became known specifically for his shots of the American West or Eliot Porter for his images of forests and birds.
But the inspirational place – besides the photos you are taking of them – are important precisely because they are inspiring. Beautiful landscapes beg to be captured and collected. And by seeing the beauty of the world, you’ll only find inspiration to make your own images as beautiful as they can be.
So, here are some amazing landscapes for you to try. And you’ll find links to more in-depth articles on each part of the world below.
Remember, though, when it comes to landscape photography, the photograph itself is more important than the landscape that you are making representations of.
Your camera will love the light of Scotland.
Europe, the littlest of the world’s continents, is rammed with exquisite sights to see. And, for a landscape photographer, it could potentially be one of the most rewarding places on Earth.
If you are looking for the subject of some shots, you’ll need to consider what you are after.
Scotland’s Highlands have recently been voted the most beautiful place in the world. So, if you like rugged, barely populated landscapes, with mountains, moors, and dramatic coastlines, this might be the place for you.
If, on the other hand, you are interested in totally unique landforms, try the Italian Dolomites – whose rocky outbursts are unseen anywhere else.
Find more suggestions in our article on the best places for landscape photography in Europe.
The USA is a country whose variety of landscapes, landforms, and worlds has been immortalised by its indefatigable cultural industries. Every place in the US seems to already be familiar.
But that’s not to say that it’s not still a wonderful place to take photos. Because its familiarity does not imply its banality.
The otherworldly landscapes of Utah will remain ever new, striking any audience with their strangeness, their majesty. The trees of New England’s White Mountains, with their endless variety of colours, will not disappoint either.
And then there’s the Rockies and the Great Plains. Find out more about where to go in the USA as a landscape photographer.
Practice your photography skills on the colours of autumnal New England.
South America’s landscapes are as extreme as they are breath-taking – with some of the highest mountains in the world, the longest rivers, the driest deserts, and the largest plains.
All of this, understandably, provides great material for the photographer’s profession. You just need to decide where you are going to take yourself.
It could be deep into the Amazon jungle, for some photos of the wildest and least explored areas on the planet. It could be through the valleys of the Andes, with their dizzying heights and spectacular skylines. It could be to the weird shapes and colours of the Atacama Desert.
Take your pick. Or find out more in our article on photography tips for landscapes in South America.
Our planet’s largest continent, it’s hard to reduce its breadth into such a summary as this. Yet, throwing yourself into Asia would be one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do – let alone an endless source of gorgeous photos.
Sure, you could go to the Great Wall of China or to the temples of Angkor Wat. But you may find that these iconic sights are a little crowded with tourists.
Try instead, perhaps, the depths of the Himalaya – or the unvisited regions of Kazakhstan. Find out more in our article on Asia’s best locations for landscape photography.
Africa’s beauty is undeniable – from the huge swathes of the Sahara to the green regions of Ethiopia and the savanna.
Indeed, it’s usually this last landscape here that we associated with Africa. Yet, go there, and see that the image we have of this continent is infinitely reductive.
Try the Fish River of Namibia, or the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Or else, head to the coasts and islands of Mozambique. For more, check out our article on Africa’s best places for landscape photography.