Who Needs Landscape Photography ?
Updated: Dec 15, 2019
An interesting question considering it will be put to you, the readers who are realistically here because of one thing, your love for landscape photography.
I was recently having a chat with a few fellow landscape photographers and was asking how and why they got in to it and there seemed to be a reoccurring theme with many of them.
My own story can be boiled down to pretty much one thing, it's my escape.
Now that's quite a big thing to say because there are so many elements to which make up my love for landscape photography but that was essentially a large part of it.
Let me take you back to the start of it all to see if it resonates with any of you ?
Around 15 years ago I became quite withdrawn from society, I had spent a large part of my youth (*I use the term loosely) surrounded by lots of people as I was a music producer and DJ and by nature spent a lot of time in night clubs.
At the time this seemed fantastic and I thrived off it, but in reality I wasn't really happy.
After a period of time I realised it and started to move away from it, I stayed in more than ever and started to not want to go outside for absolutely anything.
It wasn't the outdoors that worried me, I just didn't really want to see people and especially large crowds of people.
My descent into social anxiety had started.
I couldn't see it at the time, I just felt I didn't want company or to be outside, My day job involved being very social and having to put on the mr happy face routine for everyone but inside I just wasn't happy.
This went on for quite a while and I eventually realised what was happening and had to force myself to go out.
I didn't want to go to any crowded spaces so walks along the coastal regions (not beaches) saw that my love of solitude was met, and then something happened.
I started to love being outside, I was seeing wonderful sights and feeling free of all burdens of work, home etc... It was just me with nature and a sense of freedom and a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.
I would go at every opportunity and it always felt so right to be out there, it didn't matter that I didn't know where I was walking to, I just walked to find out what was over the next hill and just kept going, it was exhilarating.
I had always enjoyed taking pictures of wildlife but my new found areas of interest were these magnificent landscapes I was walking over and I just had to take pictures of them for not only myself but I wanted others to see too.
The bug had started and it became a relentless pursuit for the next 15 years.
In one moment landscape photography had got me back on track and pardon the pun, it had once again given me focus.
When I had a bad day at work, it didn't matter as I knew that evening I would be out and it would all wash over me, I developed a different frame of mind while out taking pictures.
I had become a calmer person, no longer a hub of built up aggression waiting to explode or full of negativity looking for reasons "not to" do something, I was happy, I was out and I was experiencing a real upturn in my general mood and my ability to deal with situations calmly and rationally, I was the very essence of zen.
Landscape photography started to bring other elements into my daily life too, I had become more creative and sought the chance to change my career direction from sales to graphic design so I could always be doing something creative rather than doing mundane soul destroying sales routines.
Things that were previously important started to become of no interest.
Having a nice car, earning big money, being at the right places with the right people, I turned my back on all of it and was for the first time in years truly happy.
I no longer needed the quick fixes of buying something or looking for happiness in material goods or meaningless events.
All I really needed was a good landscape, to be surrounded by nature and some nice light, and this was all for free (minus the thousands we spend on camera gear and travel !!!!!)
I had a new positive outlook on life having washed away the material things that just didn't really matter to me, or in fact anyone.
I was no longer worried about what others thought about me, I was doing my own thing and loving it, I felt at peace while taking pictures.
I felt like I had finally found my calling in life, I even found myself talking to other landscape photographers on the rare occasion that I saw one (back then there were very few people really doing it so seeing someone was actually quite an exciting event).
My social anxiety was lifting, granted I still didn't want to go to a night club or any packed event, but I could handle it if I needed too.
So I appreciate that this is quite a heavy blog but I kinda wanted to emphasise how much landscape photography has changed my life for the better and just what it can do for people to lift their spirit and give them focus and pleasure.
Being outside and experiencing a stunning sunrise while being completely alone is a humbling experience and one that everyone should try, you feel like you're the only person in the world right there at that moment in time and it can be an emotional experience.
Landscape photography can be incredibly moving and full of emotion and positive vibes, nothing else seems to matter in that moment, whatever else is going on in the world its just not there at that time, it's just you and the light.
Enjoying these simple pleasures it what keeps me going with it all, there was no one else to please, I was taking pictures for me only and enjoying the experience of being outside, Photography was in reality almost a by product of the outdoor experience, all be it a good one.
The experience was the true focus of everything and the true escape, recording it was simply the memory of that moment.
Firm friendships have been made along the way, these photographers having moved over into my daily life as friends rather than just fellow photographers, people who get where I'm coming from and don't look at you in a strange way when you utter phrases such as "Wow those clouds are gonna go off big time tonight" or "Im up at 2 am to travel 200 miles for one shot", They just get it, and by definition, they get you.
While I still prefer to shoot alone I do go once in a while with a handful of like minded friends who enjoy the experience and its nice to share the scenes you love so much with someone, you can buzz from their excitement too and relive your own excitement from when you first discovered an area,
Landscape photography has really given me something, its a source of constant escape, joy, pleasure, the list goes on. Even when you go out and conditions don't go your way, Frustrating as it might be, you were still out enjoying life and the value of that to your soul can't be underestimated.
I often wonder what direction my life would have taken if I hadn't discovered landscape photography and in truth, I don't think it would have been a good path.
I really hope this resonates with a lot of you and that you do it for the right reasons cause it gives you pleasure and enjoyment. Being outside is what it's all about, far more important than chasing "likes" and trying to keep up with others, That path leads to the end of the road.
There is a flip side to all of the positive sides though, the blindness.
When you're passionate about something you give it your everything and throw yourself into it, It can become all consuming and overtake everything.
I have seen friends who have become so obsessed with their love of photography that they fail to see that everything else in their life is lacking focus too, their family, their friends.
Supportive partners encourage you to go out and pursue your creative love of landscape photography, they see the pleasure it gives you so don't disrespect that by not giving them the most important thing you can, your time and attention.
I've seen relationships fail due to peoples obsession with landscape photography and that's truly a terrible situation to be in and it leads down a bad path.
You have to treat it like processing a picture, If you go full on with it then its going to end up a big old mess, you need to have a balanced image just like a balanced relationship with your landscape photography.
Be prepared to take a step back, you don't need to be out constantly at the expense of your family.
Missing a sunset isn't the end of the world, There will be others, the same can't be said for neglecting your family and friends.
Be passionate about your pursuit but not at the cost of the things or people that really matter, like I said, there will be other days.
Don't let the pursuit of social media likes cause you to burn out, these aren't real things, they mean nothing, likes have not and will not ever equal talent, its all a myth, don't get caught up pursuing this mirage when you have real life staring you in the face.
I have recently taken a break from social media and intended to be off for a month, I've now been off for well over three months and I don't even miss it in the slightest, if anything I'm enjoying life and my landscape photography even more.
I guess the point of this whole load of rambling is to say don't lose focus on the things that really matter, family, friends etc... Landscape photography will always be there to be enjoyed but do it on your own terms, don't let it rule you, don't let it be the reason not to see people because the clouds looked good.
Everything in moderation, keep a good healthy balance and you will enjoy life more I promise.
I just want to give a shout out to the people out there that I shoot with and talk rubbish with, you're all my stepping stones on the path I've chosen and I can't thank you enough for being on the journey with me, You've helped me become a better person and I love you all for it, Thank you.
So in answer to the original tittle of who needs landscape photography ? I do, I would be lost without it, but id survive.
It's part of me, and that's the key word, PART not all. It's helped shape me to the person I am today for better or for worse and treated right it has been a massively positive addition to my life and it can do the same for you, just don't make it your sole focus at the expense of everything or everyone else.
Be balanced, Be happy.
As always, Happy shooting.
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