There is always room for improvement in landscape photography. The question is what will give you the best growth for your investments of time and money? Books, workshops, youtube videos? There are so many landscape photography courses available in different formats, how do you choose?
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; workshops, books, videos, blog posts, 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 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 courses 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 courses, 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 courses that I can personally recommend and vouch for. I have listed them in no particular order.
How To Shoot Landscape and Nature Photography Like a Pro by Johny Spencer
Johny Spencer is an Australian photographer who works for the National Park Service. He has partnered with Digital Photography School to create the newest course on this list: How To Shoot Landscape and Nature Photography Like a Pro. DPS has a record of producing some impressive photography resources, and this one is no different. Johny Spencer’s teaching style is really enjoyable. He’s charismatic and makes learning nature and landscape photography really easy and enjoyable. It’s currently available at a launch special of $69 for a few more days and includes a whole lot of extras, so head over to the page to read more.
Landscape Photography by Marc Muench
If you haven’t heard of CreativeLive, 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. Currently only $59.
Landscape Photography Tutorial Series: New Zealand by Trey Ratcliff
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.
Fine Art Landscape and Travel Photography by Peter Eastway & Tony Hewitt
Also from CreativeLive, this course from Peter Eastway and Tony Hewitt has a strong focus on how to use aerial photography to create a stand-out portfolio. Both of these award-winning master photographers bring something unique to the world of online landscape photography courses. It covers everything from planning and preparation to equipment, post-production and putting together your portfolio.
Living Landscapes by Todd Sisson
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).
Use Your New Knowledge!
Of course, purchasing any of these courses 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!