Sprague Lake reflects the steely blue colors of sunrise on its icy an thawing surface. Rocky Mountain National Park has been a personal photography project of mine or the last fourteen years. Projects, To-Do lists and staying in shape make it easier to take advantage of perfect conditions such as these. Technicial Details: Canon EOS 1Ds III, 24mm TS-E F3.5 L II
It’s that time of year again. The time to start making plans for summer vacations and weekend trips to beautiful locations. It’s time to shake off the winter doldrums and dust off your camera gear and to start getting back out in the field to photograph again. It’s time to get motivated again and taking advantage of the upcoming season to add to your portfolio. Below are three simple and easy ideas that will help to improve your motivation and success rate this year.
1. Start A Project: Most photographers I know dream of travelling the world and heading to exotic locations to create images of the worlds most dramatic and beautiful locations. It sounds amazing and a lucky few may even get to pursue this endeavor. The reality is most of us will not be able to break out the black American Express card and start booking flights to Fiji or Bora Bora.
For most of us, we have limited time and resources available. Whether your a professional landscape photographer or a weekend warrior our time and resources are precious and limited. Starting a project and building a portfolio of work from that project is a great way to circumvent this problem. Not to sound like an economist as opposed to a photographer, but there are real efficiencies built into creating a specific body of work.
Projects allow a photographer to manage cost and expenses while maximizing their time and resources building a specific body of work. The more time you spend working on a specific project, the more you become and expert in that subject. Building on your knowledge of your subject while immersed in a project allows you to target locations, set goals, and intimately understand the workings of the subject and area. Like a rolling stone, the momentum of a project builds upon itself to produce superior results.
2. Make A To-Do List: I realize this is supposed to be a landscape photography blog, not time management 101 but hear me out. It’s contrary to how most believe landscape photography works but I believe its important even for photographers in the field.
Many believe that nature photographers wander around aimlessly until something strikes their fancy. While we have all used this technique to varying degrees and some probably have even had some moderate success doing so, I’d be willing to bet more often than not this technique ends with lots of missed opportunities and time spent out of location.
Having a subject To-Do list allows you to keep your eye on the prize and stay focused. I usually keep a list in the note section of my phone that’s easily accessible. The list acts as a way for me to quickly jog my memory and settle on a destination for a shoot.
It’s a loose list and its not meant to be the be all and end all, but it helps me to avoid ‘paralysis by analysis’ syndrome in the field. Indecisiveness causes delay, delays will often cause you to be out of position or rushed when the magic starts to unfold. Having a To-Do list of subjects or locations will let you quickly work through indecisiveness and increase your chance for success.
3. Get In Shape: I cant tell you how often on online forums I read about landscape photographers obsessing over the weight of their gear. There are pages of discussions online about the benefits of compact lightweight tripods. Most of these center on expensive tripods made of the latest state of the art composite materials which cost an arm and a leg to purchase.
A good tripod is certainly an asset and weight is a real issue that photographers need to be addressed. But lets be honest, the most beneficial way to cut down on weight in the field is probably staring right back at you when looking in the mirror. Losing a few pounds here and there will not only make you feel better, but being physically fit in the field with most certainly improve your photography.
Landscape photography involves early mornings and late nights in the fields. It most often involves hiking long distances over difficult terrain. Much of the time in the field may not be spent in ideal weather conditions either. To find dramatic lighting, photographers often have to work and function along the edges of lighting and weather conditions.
Working under these conditions can be challenging both physically and mentally. Being physically prepared to work under these circumstances is a benefit to your photography. Instead of being tired or worn down in the field, being fit will allow you to concentrate on your surroundings and more importantly your photography.
I find staying ‘field ready’ essential to my photography. It allows me to arrive on time to my destinations without feeling rushed. I can quickly recover from the physical challenge and spend time studying my subject and concentrating on my photography instead of trying to catch my breath and keep the sweat out of my eyes. You don’t need to start running ten miles a day to see the benefits of being physically fit. Small steps towards achieving this goal will immediately make a big difference in your photography.
I find these three steps beneficial to my landscape photography. What I find most beneficial about these three steps is that they are all free of charge. You wont need to spend thousands of dollars to see results. Enact these three steps even in small stages and I believe you will quickly see positive results to your photography.