What is Landscape Photography? Your Complete Guide

What is Landscape Photography?

Landscape photography is a type of photography that captures the beauty of nature, bringing the viewers into the scenery, setting, and mood in these outdoor locations.

symmetrical clouds reflection in water

Have you ever looked at the stunning photos from National Geographic and wanted to capture these exquisite nature images? Landscape photography captures the beauty of the great outdoors. A great landscape photograph can convey great emotions and make the viewer immerse themselves into the scenery. 

For many photographers, they love capturing landscapes and nature. You don’t need a model, props, or any people in the shot. There are many pros to getting into landscape photography, including the peaceful and meditative quality of your subject matter and having the potential of incorporating travel into your work. Looking to add landscape photography into your online portfolio? In this guide, you’ll find everything from taking a great landscape photo, to how you might end up selling your work.

What is Landscape Photography?

Simply put, landscape photography captures the beauty of nature and the outdoors. These photographs bring the viewers into the scenery and perfectly captures the setting, mood, and feeling in the location. 

Whether you’re capturing a panorama or wide-angle of a mountain, or a close detail of a patch of beautiful grass, landscape photography shows the photographer's connection with nature. The photographs make you feel what the photographers are feeling when they are at the location. 

The definition of landscape photography can be quite broad. Mountains and oceans, nature and urban—these can all be considered landscape photography. The two types of landscape photography we are all probably most familiar with are nature and urban, from wide shots to close ups, both are popular environments for landscape photographs.

Types of Landscape Photograph

There are a few types of landscape photography to get familiar with, but let us back up even further by asking what the definition of landscape is in the first place.

Nature Photography

Nature is the scene most commonly associated with landscape photography. From earth to sky, desert to the Milky Way, the sky really is the limit when considering the natural scene you are wanting to capture, and nature photography absolutely can fall under a type of landscape photography. 

Urban Photography

For lack of a better definition, urban photography concerns itself with parts of the world that are man made, but it can still absolutely classify as landscape photography. Structures such as buildings, roads, sculpture, architecture as a whole, are common subjects for photographers to utilize when composing their images. Oftentimes, photographers may refer to this as architectural urban landscape. 

blue water and trees

Which Camera is Best for Landscape Photography?

DSLRs, point-and-shoot, and film cameras are all capable of taking breathtaking landscape images. Keeping in mind your experience level and budget, be sure you're considering the following features when choosing the best camera for landscape photography that can make a big difference to photographing landscapes:

  • Megapixels: go for high-resolution so you can be sure to capture every detail

  • Dynamic range: find one with a wide DR so you can capture more details and spend less time in your camera settings

  • Full frame sensor: not a necessity, but cameras with one will provide stellar image quality

  • Weather sealing and durability: try to find a camera that can withstand the elements and the wear and tear that comes with location scouting

What is the Best Lens for Landscape Photography?

In short, wide-angle lenses. Landscape photographers suggest anything 30 mm and below, however, if you're capturing far off distance, telephoto lenses (85mm to 300mm +) are another option to consider. Beginner photographer doing some dabbling? A standard lens (18-85mm) would absolutely work too. Something to consider, the narrower the lens, the wider and flatter the photo will appear.

Personal preference and style also come into play, so don't be intimidated by the options. Compare your own past photography and other image rich pages to help you along the decision making process. From Canon and Nikon to Sony and Sigma, choose from a selection of great lenses for landscape photography that can truly bring your style to life.

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Do I Need a Tripod for Landscape Photography?

It depends. If you want the option to shoot long exposures, use slower shutter speeds and higher apertures, a tripod will ensure you have the option to get the best detail. After choosing your camera and lens, consider tripods based on your needs. Do you prefer lightweight carbon or portable models for, or would you settle for the standard metal kind? Cost, ease of use are conversations to have with yourself.

Ready to complete your gear kit? From protecting against the elements and keeping your equipment powered up, to finding the right density filter, level up with these landscape photography accessories.

bird view of city

Can I Make Money with Landscape Photography?

The short answer: yes! The way photographers make money has been shifting for years, but that shouldn't turn you off.

Firstly, social media and a website are arguably necessities for landscape photographers to gain notoriety, share their work, and be digitally introduced to clients. You can use your social media platform as an outlet to attract potential clients. Perhaps your landscape photography may be the secret to growing your followers on social media.

Now, if you already have a solid or growing portfolio you are sharing online, check out the ways photographers are selling their work.

1) Stock Sites

Stock Sites such as Getty, Shutterstock, iStock, Adobe and more are sites to all consider. When doing your research, look for royalty rates and potential exclusivity rights. You’ll also want to take a look at how you can create stock photography that sells. You can make small adjustments and post-production edits to create stock images that work well for the public to use.

2) Sell Prints

Prints are a great way to digitally showcase and hopefully sell your work. Plus, eliminating the gallery or buyer means you don't get hit with a commission fee.

3) Commissions or Assignments

Publishers, tourism bureaus and ad agencies are some places worth looking into if you want to make money as a landscape photographer. When you have a portfolio to share (agencies and bureaus) or an idea or body of work to pitch (publishers), this is ideal when you can start your reach-outs. Once you've bagged an assignment or commission, here are some budgeting considerations to ponder when quoting on a job.

If you're budgeting a quote for a potential commission, consider the following:

  • Your hourly, day or project rate

  • Gear costs (the camera, lens, tripod and accessories mentioned above)

  • Travel time

  • Location access e.g. national park fee

  • Licensing fees, per image

  • Editing or post-processing fee, per image 

4) Contests

Contests are a great way to gain notoriety. On top of that, many photo contests involve a monetary component. Enter as many as you can, just be wary of accumulating entry fees. Photo Contest Guru is a great one-stop-shop for upcoming contests, deadlines, and requirements.

Landscape photography can be a great addition to your photography business. If you’re a new photographer just starting your career, you may also want to explore this niche to build your landscape photography portfolio. Building your business will take time but there are lots of great potential for landscape photography.