Mistakes landscape photographers make

Five Common Struggles Every Landscape Photographer Faces at Some Point Series: Week 3

Nov 15, 2022

Welcome to week three in the five-part series: Five Common Struggles Every Landscape Photographer Faces at Some PointThis week we are going to talk about composition and landscape photography. Last week we talked about light and landscape photography.

Everyone has a camera these days, right?! But having a camera does not make you a photographer. Snapshots are for the picture taker. Yes, beautiful images can be captured by the picture taker, but a distinct factor separates the photographer from the picture taker. That factor is thoughtful composition. But finding strong compositions in landscape photography is a struggle that all photographers will face at some point. 

I used to be a picture taker. At the beginning of my landscape photography journey, I'd rush out of my truck and wildly run into the most beautiful landscape scenes, plop down my camera and start taking pictures. Yes, I did know the rules of composition and would often consider concepts like the Rule of Thirds, leading lines, balance and framing; however, I did not fully comprehend the power of solid composition until years later. Even to date, composition is still something I continue to work on in my photography journey. Ask any of my fellow photographer friends, and they'll agree that I can often spend significant time searching out strong compositions before I even consider setting up my camera.

Composition in landscape photography can make a photo, but how is this actually achieved? I've just told you that even though I knew about compositional concepts and I'd use those concepts in my photos, I was still not using composition to its fullest potential. Composition is more than following the rules. 

So what's the secret then? 

Thoughtful intention + composition is the solution to composition struggles.  

ISO 64, 24mm, f9, 1/8 sec

When seeking strong, intentional composition for landscape photos, consider the following: 

  1. Identify your main subject and compose this subject in a way that leaves the viewer no question about what the main subject is.
  2. Only include elements in the image that support or draw attention to the main subject. 
  3. Think about the story you want to tell in your image and include elements that support your intention. 
  4. Keep in mind compositional rules to further strengthen the image, the like Rule of Thirds, leading lines, framing and balance when arranging the main subject and support elements in the scene. 

The practice of intentional composition will help you create more powerful photos and move you away from struggling with composition in landscape photography. 

Composition is one of the most important elements within landscape photography and is a concept that a photographer can continually develop and fine-tune. Don't be afraid to seek out composition with intention, as this will elevate the visual impact in your photos. 


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