Challenge Yourself

There are trends in landscape photography, just like anything else. Right now it’s night imagery, especially those including the milky way. Another trendy scene is long exposures, and I’m talking about over one minute exposures in the middle of the day. Both techniques offer a lifetime of intrigue and adventure for someone willing to create a significant body of work to show for it. Which is what I would like to bring up in this post: a large body of work!

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Years ago, back when we actually printed books, many photographers, myself included, would spend several years creating a body of images to represent a title. This required: many shoots at different times of the year, careful planning, and also some spontaneous luck to catapult the image making into something spectacular. Aside from a few art books being published in the photography world, many photographers have stopped taking the “project” approach and simply publish to their social media streams and for one-off prints. This is not right or wrong, but can fall short in comparison to the euphoric feeling of completing a challenging project. I believe a great way to improve your image-making skills, is to create a project of a personal subject or theme. The topic does not need to be exotic or expensive, but rather challenging. This means the images necessary to captivate an audience, especially in today’s world, need to be significant and sophisticated. For example, if your subject is rainbows, there will need to be a few doubles with multiple “significant other” subjects in the scenes. This means your rainbows need supporting actors, to make them more powerful. In addition, one would need images of rainbows in the sun, moon, and near waterfalls, and of course some during the night taken in the light of the full moon. Your subject might be anything that captivates you. The sophistication of such a body of work will come from how successful you are at portraying your  subject, in an interesting and captivating manner. This is what makes photography so interesting. Think of the two trendy techniques I listed in the beginning of this post—night photography and long exposures. Both techniques show what our eye cannot see. When you are forced to portray the same subject in more than 20 different ways, the potential of showing your audience something their eyes never noticed is greater, and when you are able to open up your viewers’ eyes to something they have never seen will make your work inspirational at the least. 

What I would consider a large body of work might be 50 images or more. In the landscape art books I had published, there were over 100 images. I understand many of the images were illustrating varying locations and not the same subject. If you are so inclined to take this challenge on, I would recommend not worrying about getting your project published, but simply concentrate on creating the imagery first.

I would recommend using Lightroom Mobile for this. LR Mobile is very simple and is included with your Adobe Creative Cloud membership. At the top of your LR catalog, there is a pull down that lists a way to sync to LR mobile. Once you activate the option, go to either your iPad, iPhone or Android phone or tablet and download the app. Once you install it and sign in, all the images you shared from your desktop catalog in a collection will appear on your mobile device. You can share RAW files as well as jpeg or tiff. There are plenty of online tutorials on just how to do set up LR mobile, including some good ones on Adobe TV. Once yours is set up, simply drag your project files into the collection on your desktop and begin showing your work. This will help in several ways. The more you show your work to others, not just friends and family, the more you will learn. And the more you look at and study your own work the more you will improve. LR mobile allows you to edit images on your phone or tablet as well, making it quite convenient to respond to spontaneous creative moments.

Life is short, create pictures!

Marc Muench