I like to consider myself a “location” photographer. This genre falls under the landscape photography umbrella but includes seascapes, cityscapes and places of interest – particularly lighthouses. A few nights ago I watched a video that discussed the three prerequisites for being a successful landscape photographer – none of which is directly related to photography. It made me pause and think about whether I have the “right stuff” and what it might take to up my game.
In no particular order, these requirements are:
- Must be able to overcome the fear of darkness – Now this may seem a bit peculiar but is perfectly logical. Many award winning landscape photographs are taken in remote places and typically around sunrise or sunset. That means in order to get to/from this remote place one must hike up or down a mountain or traipse through the forest in total darkness and that can be a bit intimidating. Other than occasionally riding my bicycle in the dark to or from a photo shoot, I don’t have any nighttime hiking or trekking experience. Maybe it’s time to add that to my bucket list. It’s in keeping with a photography axiom that states “get your camera in a different place”.
- Must have the physical strength and stamina to carry a heavy camera backpack and tripod long distances – I haven’t added much photo gear to my collection in quite a while but it seems that my camera bag is “feeling” heavier with each passing season. Might be time to bring less stuff or regain the strength lost to the aging process. This too supports a key photography principle: “zoom with your feet”.
- Must be able to tolerate adverse weather conditions – I don’t mind the cold and have photographed in sub-zero temperatures but I don’t like getting myself or my gear soaking wet. Yet, some of the best images I’ve seen recently were taken in horrible climate – particularly in Iceland where freezing rain and hail pelted the photographer. Not surprisingly he was the only one out there shooting, thereby subscribing to another guideline “shoot where there ain’t nobody else”. I have Gore-Tex pants, jacket and boots so maybe it’s time to invest in some rain/snow gear for my camera and get out there when others choose to remain indoors.
If I could add a fourth “must” it would be must be able to get up before the crack of dawn and function normally. I think the pre-dawn and sunrise hours are the best moments for location photography. Few people are out at that time, the air is often still, and the bugs are usually still asleep. Magical things happen early in the morning and I look forward to capturing more of them in 2018. Here’s hoping that you’ll come along for the ride.
I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year!