Your landscape photography could be a lot better than it is. If you’re honest, you know that there’s room for improvement. The question is, what will help you grow and develop the most?
Developing and growing as an artist requires investment. Time, energy, money. You could give me a long list of ways to invest in your craft that could help you become a better landscape photographer, but they all require different levels of investment and provide different levels of improvement. So which of them will give you the best return on investment?
I’ll tell you straight off that it’s not new gear. Gear is awesome, but it won’t make you a better artist. It’s not the latest version of Photoshop or Lightroom either. There are two things that will give you the most return on your investments of time, energy, and money.
Education and practice.
I’m not talking about formal education. We are long past the days of believing you need to go to art school to be a photographer. I’m talking about finding valuable resources that will teach you the craft. These resources come in many forms, and each of them offers something different and unique. Their value will vary from one photographer to the next depending on skill, needs, and learning style. Their value will also depend largely on the teacher. Not everybody has the ability to teach. Having a great portfolio doesn’t necessarily qualify somebody to be able to pass on their knowledge and skills.
In terms of return on investment, you can’t go past great workshops that are well planned and run by skilled, experienced teachers. Most will agree that these workshops are invaluable and will undoubtedly improve your photography. Unfortunately for many, the ones worth doing are expensive and require time and often travel, making them out of reach for many photographers.
Luckily, the next best photography education is well within the reach of anybody with a computer and internet connection. Video tutorials and ebooks are easily accessible, affordable, and can be watched and read at your own pace. There are some incredibly valuable landscape photography resources available online by some of the top photographers and teachers in the world. The key is finding the good ones.
I could point you to a hundred different landscape photography resources, but I’ve ruthlessly cut the list down based on a few criteria. To make the cut, these resources all meet the following criteria:
- The material must be easily understood.
- It must cater to landscape photographers from a variety of skill and experience levels.
- The teacher must have a high level of expertise and experience in landscape photography, and be a great communicator and teacher.
- It must be affordable (under $100). I have excluded free resources based on my experience that any photographer with the goods will be teaching for at least part of their livelihood, and therefore not giving it away for free.
- It must be published by a reputable company with a solid system for purchasing and viewing/downloading the course, and great customer service.
I’ve narrowed this list down to four resources that I can personally recommend and vouch for. I have listed them in no particular order.
Living Landscapes by Todd Sisson – $29.99
Living Landscapes: A Guide To Stunning Landscape Photography is an ebook written by New Zealand photographers Todd and Sarah Sisson and published by Digital Photography School. I have previously reviewed it and cannot recommend it highly enough. I must also mention their follow-up ebook Loving Landscapes: A Guide to Landscape Photography Post-Production and Workflow (which I have also reviewed here).
Landscape Photography Tutorial Series: New Zealand by Trey Ratcliff – $79
This landscape photography video workshop by the man behind Stuck In Customs, Trey Ratcliff, is incredible value for money. For a guy who spends his life traveling and photographing every corner of the globe, the fact that he decided to move to New Zealand, one of the most isolated corners of the earth, proves how much of a landscape photographer’s paradise it is. The amount of content that he manages to squeeze into the 4+ hours of video is quite amazing, and for $79 it’s a steal (get 10% off using the above link, making it only $71)!
It’s also worth looking at Trey’s Complete HDR Tutorial if you’d like to learn from the man who made HDR famous. It’s usually $99, but currently on sale for $59 (10% off using the above link, making it only $53)!
Landscape Photography: Mountains, Lakes, and Waterfalls by Matt Kloskowski – $49.95
Matt Kloskowski has made himself a name as one of the top photography educators in the world. He has published over 20 books and has a vast collection of video courses and tutorials teaching photography and Lightroom/Photoshop and many others. Matt’s courses can be found on a variety of websites, but most of his work, and arguably his most valuable, can be found on KelbyOne. This video course, Landscape Photography: Mountains, Lakes, and Waterfalls, is without a doubt one of the better landscape photography courses out there. Filmed in Mount Rainer National Park, the videos include the usual material, but Matt also throws in some very useful techniques like focus stacking and astrophotography (star photography). You can subscribe to KelbyOne for access to all their video courses, or you can buy the course outright for $49.95.
Landscape Photography by Marc Muench – $99
If you haven’t heard of Creative Live, you’ve been missing out on an incredible resource. Launched by commercial photography giant Chase Jarvis, Creative Live runs a huge variety of creative courses from photography and Photoshop to web design and business skills. Their courses are all free if you watch them live, but if you don’t have time to sit down for 2 or 3 days straight, you can purchase and download the courses after they’ve aired live.
There are a number of landscape and nature photography courses available on CL, but the one I would highly recommend is Landscape Photography by Marc Muench. Filmed over two days, the videos are incredibly in-depth and cover everything from gear and technical skills, to planning and working in the outdoors, right through to post-processing. It’s the closest thing you will get to being on a real workshop yourself. Well worth $99.
Also worth considering is Nature and Landscape Photography by John Greengo (also $99).
Use Your New Knowledge!
Of course, purchasing any of these resources does not guarantee you will become a better landscape photographer. You must apply the knowledge and practice for it to improve your craft. So pick one, work through it, then grab your camera and go out and put your newfound knowledge to action. You’ll be glad you did, and I guarantee that your landscape photography will improve far more than if you had spent the money on new equipment!
As I stated above, this list is only scraping the surface of the amazing courses, tutorials, books, and workshops out there. If you’ve found something that has helped your photography and would recommend, please add it to the comments. I may even include it in this list!