[Guest post by Michael Greene]
Have you ever gotten that feeling of déjà vu when you walk into a room of landscape photos? Have you ever been certain you have seen the exact same picture before, but by another photographer? If you have, then you probably are wondering why so much of landscape photography looks the same.
You probably have also looked at your own images and wondered why yours don’t stand out and why you can’t seem to capture that iconic, standout image like the greats do. You can capture the most carefully framed pictures ever, but they may still feel very cookie cutter if you don’t include your own personality in each shot you take.
Shoot What You Know and Learn What You Don’t
To start with, if you don’t know the subject or area that you are photographing, then you will be much more likely to take that same picture you have seen over and over again. The first step in adding personality to your images is to know more about your subject. If you are taking pictures of a mountain landscape, then you should know the name of that mountain or the range. You should be familiar with its past, with how tall it is, and with the wildlife and plants known for the area. The more connection you have with the scene or subject you are photographing, the more you will be likely to use your own personality in your shots.
Of course, you can’t spend all of your time photographing one mountain range if it is what you know about. That means you need to learn. If you are going to embark on a photo excursion to a new area, then spend some time learning about it in advance. You never know when one small fact may be just what you need to take a picture that stands out from any other image of the same area.
Be Technically Accurate
You need to know the exact camera settings to use in a certain situation. This also may require some study of the area you will be photographing. Some of the most unique, breathtaking pictures come from photographers who took the time and learned what the light looks like at different times during the day. Before taking any image, you should find out more about lighting, climate, and weather in the area so that you can choose the perfect technical specifications and capture an image that does stand out from the rest.
Have a Vision
If you walk out the door and just start snapping pictures, then you are very likely to end up with an image that looks eerily similar to someone else’s. You need to have a vision. Plan your photography trip carefully, and ask yourself: “what am I trying to capture today?” This is an important question because it will give you guidance for every image you take. You should be constantly trying to achieve that vision with every snap of the shutter no matter what you happen to be taking pictures of.
If you feel like every landscape photo looks the same, then you probably have a personality problem. You need to make sure you are considering your own personality in every picture you take. The easiest way to do this is to make a connection with your subject by learning about it, by being technically accurate with all of the details, and by having a vision for your photos before you take them. With work, you can start taking landscape images that will stand out from those cookie-cutter pictures you have seen over and over again.
Photos © Doug Bardwell | Bardwell Photography