January 15th, 2018
As with any self imposed venture, there's anxiety, there's excitement, there's the unknown. What never seems to be bad advise, is the need for preparation and simply getting out there. We read, we stream, we talk to those already in the business, but what we learn from experience is what truly propels us.
Travel and Landscape Photography is an adventure. Exploring, hiking, touring, riding, climbing.. the list gets long and interesting. The desire is to entice others with captures of picturesque views and interesting compositions. We aim to be creative in capturing even what's frequently seen. But being a Creative, no matter how innate our creativity, will need the technical and practical know-how to achieve great results in photography.
Numero Uno on my list of Beginner Mistakes is "Not slowing down to get familiar with a location". Take a few minutes when you arrive to see what surrounds you. Determine your preferences, visualize your results, then realize them with that camera. Time permitting, find at least two angles to capture each of your subjects.
By "Not taking time to properly compose", you're essentially wasting time. Your artistry is emanated by the story that your photo tells. Keep searching for new ways to improve your compositions. Remember what you've learned about the Rule of Thirds, about having an interesting foreground to go with the mid-ground and background, about getting lower to the ground or climbing as high up as you can safely go, and about leading lines. Use these suggested 'rules' as your interpretation lends.
"Snapping way too many photos" is a habit that you're bound to kick after a few nights struggling through way too many shots from a location. The sooner you practice avoiding the first two mistakes mentioned, the better you become with this one. Aim for a handful of quality shots, not dozens of mediocre ones.
"Not practicing consistently" is a downfall that you must overcome. This is simply the only way to better your photography. Go out in different weather situations, practice in different types of light.. sunrises, sunsets, overcast days, sunny days, snow, rain (with due caution), just before a storm, right after a storm, nights. You will quickly realize that shooting the same landscape for example, in different weather conditions and at different times of the day, will give dynamic images for your portfolio. You will become more familiar with what your camera is capable of by shooting in different conditions. You want to master the art of quickly adjusting your settings from a sunrise shoot of an iconic landmark, to capturing that hummingbird over by the flowers a few feet away from you.
With the discipline of consistent practice you should escape the trap of "Not knowing your gear". Each of your lenses has a 'sweet spot'. This is the aperture that will give you the sharpest photos at specific focal lengths. Above 800 ISO, photos from your DSLR may never give you acceptable results, while another DSLR may produce usable photos up to say 1600 ISO. Know your gear's limits. Vibration Reduction may be a feature that one of your lenses has and another doesn't. Shooting handheld with the one that doesn't will cause you some disappointment along the way. When using your tripod though, be sure to turn that VR feature off. Go get familiar with your camera's settings. Research those features that you have no idea what they're capable of. You'll eventually see where they come in handy.
Set weekly or monthly goals for yourself. Create projects for yourself. In Travel and Landscape Photography, you will need to invest time and effort beyond a casual reach. Your portfolio is your resume. Get feedback not only from other photographers, but from friends and family. Remember, non-photographers are those who will become your customers.