We can get enamored with stories of blood, sweat, and tears to get a photo, the stories where a photographer hiked many miles into the mountains through a rare storm to get a truly unique photo, not to mention the planning that went into it. If not that you might be someone that has gone back to the same location over and over to get the right conditions. These are stories where the photographer clearly went above and beyond to capture that one shot, expending plenty of time and effort along the way. Then there are the stories where a photographer pulls to the side of the road, puts the car in park, grabs the camera and tripod and less than a few minutes and 100 feet of walking the photo was captured with little effort. In any of these cases the resulting photo can be amazing. The story in how it was created can help a photo, for sure, yet there is plenty to be said for those that get creative with photography that doesn’t require extensive physical effort or numerous repeat visits.
You shouldn’t get down your work if you don’t have these larger than life tales of all that you conquered to make the photo, and avoid stretching it to something that is fiction. I am sure we have all seen one or two at some point. Like talking about snowshoeing many miles on a week long winter adventure but the photo you are looking at is 30 a second walk from a heated vehicle. Fortunately the vast majority of photographers tell a good story while keeping it framed around reality. I have stories that range from snow camping in windy winter weather to get a photo while also having stories of getting a great shot only to take a few steps back to warm, coffee and music awaiting me in my vehicle or lodging.
I bring this up since I think there is a place for the full spectrum of what it takes to capture a photo, and my portfolio shows that. I embrace and respect all of them from monumental efforts to not much more than couch surfing. Sure the adventures help tell a compelling story yet engaging photos and stories can also be found with the “easier” to capture scenes. Some photos need no written story; it comes to life simply by viewing it. The artistic elements do it justice all on it’s own. Not to mention unless you know a spot really well that you see in a photo, you might be hard pressed to judge what time, energy and planning went into making it. It could be a lot, or hardly any.
There have been times where taking too much time or trying to capture too many angles of a scene has fallen into overthinking what I am trying to create. As mentioned this is not to diminish the sizable effort that goes into the work many photographers create, myself included. There is certainly a lot of value to slow photography, as you might call it, which I do enjoy as well. This allows you to get to know the area and scene better, and feel more connected to it. This post is meant to provide balance since it’s the big stories and enduring efforts talked about most. Less is said about the “quick” photos that are made that can be just as rewarding from a final product stand point. May these help as inspiration next time you are driving or walking around and there is a need to capture the scene at a rapid pace and move on. Patience, persistence and planning are not required in all situations.
Here are examples that I feel are artistically pleasing and or tell a good story just looking at them, that required little time or effort to capture on my part either by choice or by force. There certainly can be more of a story to these but the point is to cover how swiftly they were captured. Landscape photography can be an action sport in some cases, although I don’t expect it will be an Olympic sport any time soon.
Lucky Timing – Right time, Right Place
While climbing Mount St Helens I was just above the treeline staring up towards the summit completely oblivious to what was behind me. My son said turn around Dad, and when I did I dropped everything, fumbled for my camera and fired off a few frames before the scene changed.
Driving on a wet soggy downpour of a day here in the Northwet I was fortunate to happen to arrive at this view right after a downpour and only minutes before the next one arrived and I was driving on the road again.
With a quick sprint to the edge of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon I had no time to think. It was setup and shoot. In what felt like seconds the rainbow was gone.
Keeping Your Eyes Open – Hiking and Driving
While hiking in a local city park with the family I kept my eyes open to the scenery around me. My eye caught this one yet with my young kids at the time there was no waiting around. Setup, shoot and keep going.
Cruising along on the cleared up winter Montana highway at Big Sky Country speeds I had trouble focusing on the road with dazzling light around me. I pulled over and less than a few minutes later we were driving again and this scene was already gone.
Walking back to my car along the Oregon Coast as the sky was darkening, I stepped right next to this starfish. I had only a couple long exposure takes to capture this in the fast moving winter sunset.
Sticking your telephoto lens to your eyes like glasses can bring rewarding results. All of these came pretty quick either isolating the scene on my own or aided with a telephoto lens.
Waiting Friends or Family
Driving in a rig full of 7 of us coming back from Thanksgiving dinner in rural Montana I couldn’t resist this scene. Given there was a car crammed full of family members and skies starting to get me wet I had a couple minutes to take this, nothing more.
While hiking in Silver Falls State Park with my wife and then 3 year old daughter I had little time to enjoy the scenery. She was active on the go, moving in all directions. I quickly took the photo and we continued on our way.
It may have been sunny yet winter air was trying to come through with temps barely above freezing, snow patches on the ground and whipping winds. My family would not venture far with the cold so I had very little time to capture this scene before moving on.
Location: Portland, OR
Adrian Klein has a passion for the outdoors and landscape photography that is endless. He has traveled the parks, shorelines and wilderness capturing images that represent each area through his own artistic eye from the curbs to the far off trails.