What is the most common reasons images fail to make good landscape photography? Two reasons. A lack of thought and over emphasis on technical quality alone. The common approach to photography, is to shoot hundreds of frames from all different angles, then choose the best frame after the shoot at home. There is only one problem with this approach. If you take an image without an idea, the picture ‘communicates’ a lack of idea to the viewer. If we shoot hundreds of frames, then all we end up with is hundreds of frames – that ‘communicate’ a lack of any idea to the viewer. How can it communicate something it never had? Volume will never replace ideas, thought and planning. Less is quality.
On the landscape photography workshops, I place enormous emphasis on transferring the questions you ask yourself when editing your images back home, to being THE questions to ask yourself – before shooting. Asking “What makes good landscape photography?” – at the camera while you have time to make changes. The theory that by pure chance, you will find one you ‘like’ is flawed. What happens if you ‘like’ the angle in one photo, the light in another, the people in a third? The number of possible variables is enormous. Without an idea, you will never get all the perfect elements you ‘like’ together. Remove luck by thinking first, shooting second! Photography is also very intellectual.
The second failure, over emphasis on technical quality alone is a big mistake because technique is only the language of photography. Like a foreign language, the more fluent we can speak it, the better we can express our ideas, but it is only of value when we have an idea to express. Language on its own is pointless. What we want to communicate is our ideas, not how well we speak. All good photography communicates, uses a location as a prop for an opinion and a mood. Compose the subject, shoot the light, print the mood; create a personal artistic statement that evokes an emotional response through aesthetic quality and technical craftsmanship together in harmony.