How to Develop A Personal Artistic Vision in Landscape Photography

What is it that you want to say with your landscape photographs? This is the question that every photographer should be asking themselves. It's not enough to simply go out and take pictures of beautiful scenery – you need to have a personal artistic vision if you want your work to stand out from the rest. In this blog post, we will discuss the process of developing a personal artistic vision in landscape photography. We'll talk about how to find your own voice, and how to create images that are truly unique. If you're ready to take your landscape photography skills to the next level, read on!

What is a personal artistic vision in landscape photography?

A personal artistic vision in landscape photography is all about capturing the unique beauty of the natural world and conveying the emotions felt in its presence. This might imply selecting a specific vantage point, using certain camera settings and modifications, or taking risks to get that perfect shot. Having a clear knowledge of your own creative principles can help you develop truly beautiful pictures that communicate your particular vision of the world.

A Fortuitous Teton Super Bowl

Mount Moran encased in fog from a looming storm in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Finding your own voice

To develop your personal artistic vision in landscape photography, it's important to start by exploring different styles and techniques. You might take lots of photographs during long road trips or weekend hikes, experimenting with different settings and compositions until you find what works best for you. I took over 20,000 photographs in the first two weeks with my new DSLR. Today, only one or two of those are photographs I view as good (Not even great) landscape photographs. Now, I rarely take a shot that ends up in the recycle bin.

Creating unique images

The third step is meant to help guide you into what you want your vision to be. Make sure your images are unique. That means not using the same focal length from the same viewpoint that everyone else uses (unless the atmosphere is incredible). And no, simply adding a filter does not count as making it unique. To stand out from the crowd, you need to get creative with your images.

Reach for the Sun

Joshua Trees at sunset struggling to get free of the sand dunes near Death Valley National Park, California.

Get intimate with your landscape

I often spend hours in a single location and never even take my camera out of the backpack. The best way to get to know a landscape is to spend time in it. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to camp out in the wilderness for weeks on end (although that can certainly be helpful!). Even if you only have an hour or two to spare, taking the time to really explore your surroundings and get a feel for the place can be invaluable.

By getting to know the landscape, you'll be able to find the best vantage points, choose the right times of day to shoot, and anticipate the changing light. This intimate knowledge will help you to create stunning photographs that capture the true essence of the place, instead of just standing in the same spot as everyone else and snapping the same photograph that thousands of others have.

Mystical Giants

A redwood grove clouds in fog shortly before sunset, near the California coast.

Finalist in The American Landscape 2022 competition in Outdoor Photographer Magazine.

Tips for developing your artistic vision

One of the most important steps in becoming a successful artist is developing your own unique vision. However, this can be easier said than done. If you're struggling to find your artistic voice, here are a few tips that may help:

  • Take inspiration from your favorite artists. Look at the work of other landscape photographers, painters, and other artists whose work you admire and try to identify what it is that you like about their work. Is it the use of color? The way they capture emotions? The way they tell stories? Once you know what it is that you like, you can start to experiment with incorporating those elements into your own work.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment. Trying new things is an essential part of finding your artistic voice. So don't be afraid to experiment with different mediums, techniques, and styles. You never know when you might stumble upon something that really speaks to you.
  • Finding the perfect light, time of day, and conditions for a particular location can be difficult at times. You may spend years waiting to get that "perfect shot," but, when you do, the happiness you experience is unrivaled.
  • Be patient. Developing your vision takes time, so don't get discouraged if you don't find success overnight. It took me over a dozen years to find mine. Keep at it and, eventually, you'll find the style and approach that feels right for you.
A Grand Sunrise

The Grand Tetons and the Snake River at Sunrise, at Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Strict Production Limit of 100 Editions.

The importance of experimentation

When it comes to fine art nature photography, there is one key thing that sets great artists apart from the rest: experimentation. To truly capture the beauty and essence of a scene, you need to be willing to try new techniques, take risks, and push yourself in new directions. This might mean using multiple exposure settings on your camera or experimenting with unusual lenses. Or it might involve hiking off the beaten path or going out into inclement weather. Whatever it is, you need to be willing to put yourself out there and experiment.

How to stay motivated when things get tough

There is no denying that developing your artistic style can be a difficult process, especially when things start to feel stagnant or frustrating. After all, it can be tough to stay motivated when you aren't seeing any real progress or positive results/feedback. But just because things get tough doesn't mean that you need to give up on your artistic endeavors altogether. In fact, there are several strategies that you can use to stay motivated and keep moving forward, even when the going gets tough.

Morning on Mormon Row

Mormon Row’s John Moulton barn at sunrise, with the Grand Teton Mountain Range in Wyoming.

Strict Production Limit of 100 Editions.

First, try setting goals for yourself – both short-term and long-term. This will help you to stay fixated on what you are working towards and provide some much-needed direction along the way. Moreover, focusing on your goals and making incremental progress towards them can help to prevent discouragement when things don't go exactly as planned. I had and still have a goal of increasing my knowledge in Photoshop. I feel very technologically savvy, but when it comes to post-processing or editing photos after they're taken? Well, let's just say that is where the inadequacy sets in for me! But over time, as you learn new tips & tricks from experts online who know what they are doing, your skills will grow too. Ultimately, this is what allowed and allows me to fulfill the artistic vision I have in the field before I even click the shutter.

Second, remember that progress often looks different than we might think. Seeing results in your work doesn't always mean immediately making huge leaps forwards; rather, small improvements over time tend to have the biggest impact in the long run. So if you find yourself wanting immediate success and hitting a plateau instead, try switching up your focus and looking at the bigger picture of your progression instead of dwelling too much on each individual step along the way.

Finally, try to surround yourself with other creatives who can offer support and encouragement – whether that's in-person or online. When you're feeling down about your work, it can be helpful to talk to others who understand what you're going through and can offer some words of wisdom (or at least a shoulder to cry on).

Burney Falls Ablaze

Burney Falls in autumn in Burney, California.

Strict Production Limit of 100 Editions.

Final thoughts

In my humble opinion, developing an artistic vision for fine art landscape photography is all about embracing the unexpected. When we set out with a camera in hand, it's easy to get caught up in the technical details of capturing light and shade, composition and framing. We can become so focused on perfecting every element of our shots that we end up missing out on the truly wonderful things that happen when we're not expecting them. Whether it's a colorful rainbow appearing behind a mountain range, or a flock of geese flushing from river as you set up your tripod, the key is to keep an open mind and be prepared to react quickly when those unexpected moments arise. I often shoot handheld, just so that I'm not restricted by my tripod, which allows me to be much more creative.

So go out and experiment. Be open to new things. Take some risks. And most importantly, don't be afraid to make mistakes – they're often the best learning experiences in disguise. By following these simple tips, I'm confident that you'll start to develop your own personal artistic vision in landscape photography in no time!