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I’m starting off the post by going against all of the rules of building things up and developing intrigue and all that. I’m gonna tell you the not-so-hidden secret to getting epic landscape photos right now. Ready?

The Secret: Move to the location that you want to get epic photos of. It’s that simple 🙂

I know I put a smiley face in there, but there’s a lot of truth to it. I’ve always thought that people that lived somewhere beautiful have a huge advantage in landscape photography. And I think it’s true. The best photos I’ve seen of Moab are from photographers who live out there. The best waterfall shots I’ve seen of the Columbia River Gorge area (near Portland, OR) are from photographers that live out there. The best photos I’ve seen of Mt. Rainier (where I was a few weeks ago), are people that live out that way.

Why? Because they learn each time they go back, and can improve and finesse their photography and location choices each time they’re there. For me, I guarantee you I can take one heck-of-a photo of the beach areas where I live. I say this in as humble a way as I can, that my photos of certain locations near where I live are some of the best I’ve seen of those areas. It’s not because I’m a better photographer than anyone else who’s photographed those areas. It’s because I live here. I can go out and shoot it any day. I can watch the weather patterns, the clouds, and it barely costs me a thing to go see if I can make something happen. If I do, great! If I don’t, no sweat, because it barely cost me a thing (or much time) to do it.

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Accept It

My point here is to accept it. My trip to Mt. Rainier the other week solidified this for me. While I was happy with my photos, I had pretty much bald-clear skies the entire time. It was my first time at Mt. Rainier and I only had a few days to be there. I had to make a great landscape photography class, so I couldn’t really push the location choices much, because I had to get to shooting for the video cameras. And, regardless of how many locations I went to, I can tell you the conditions weren’t possible for me to walk away with some of the epic photos I’ve seen of that place.

Accept it. I did. I’m happy with what I got there. By no means do I think they’re bad. I like the photos. I think other people like the photos, and I’m thrilled to put my name on them. But they weren’t what I’d hoped.

And that’s okay. It usually never is right? That leads me to my next point…

Another Thing Nobody Has Told You

I’m hoping I’m not the only one this has happened to. I mean, how many times have you gone somewhere to shoot with all of these high expectations? You were probably really excited to go there because you’ve seen photos online, on a wall, or in a gallery somewhere. Then you get there and, for some reason, you never feel like your photos live up to what you saw (please tell me I’m not the only one).

I think it’s natural, but I have to tell ya’ that I’ve never heard anyone say it. But once you’ve been there, the place loses a certain allure, mystery and mythical-ness (probably not a word) that it had before you went there. Even though your photos could be every bit as good as what you saw, it’s hard for us to see that location in the same way again. I know for me, at that point, I look at my photos and think maybe I missed something. Maybe the ones I saw online were better. But then I go back and look at the others I saw before, and realize, they really weren’t. Sometimes they had better/different skies, sometimes not. Sometimes the photo I saw was just a little better, and sometimes it wasn’t. But regardless, the location just looks different to me now.

Time Actually Helps Too

One thing I’ve found helps out a lot is time and distance. It happened to me on my trip to Norway last year. I was happy enough with the photos after I returned. But now that I go back and look at them, I realize it’s probably some of the best work I’ve done. Not only did I get to photograph some amazing locations, but I was lucky enough to get some great weather while doing it. Clouds and weather conditions that many people visiting for just 7 days won’t see.

Put some time and distance between the shoot, and you start to see it in a different way. I’ll often go back and look at photos from a place and find new ones that I really like. Photos that didn’t seem like much to me at the time, but take on a different meaning once I’ve had some time to step away.

Give it a try this week if you can. Look back at some photos from a year or two (or longer) ago. I bet you’ll find something there that you didn’t catch the first time around. And if not, no biggie. Because now you know the secret to getting some epic photos of those locations you may have shot before. Just move there. Or take 6 months off work and live there for a while. No sweat right? 😉

Thanks for stopping by. Have a good one!

PS: No, you’re not crazy if you noticed a blog theme change. I have a problem where I feel I must change themes every 60 days. I’m seeking help for it 😉 Seriously though, I did change. While I loved the last theme and the way it showed off images, it had some performance problems and wasn’t great for SEO so I had to bail on it. 

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