I love landscape photography, with all my heart. It is my favorite genre that I have attempted thus far and it allows me to be myself, without any repercussions. Easily I can express myself in ways I never thought were truly possible. And it is for this reason that I got into landscape photography. I got into this genre for the love of the craft, the love of adventure, the love of the struggle. However, many people look at landscape photography as an easy genre to get into; possibly, even an easy way to make some quick cash and have a creative job. That is not the case, whatsoever. Enough talk: let’s get right into why you shouldn’t get into landscape photography.
Like every genre, landscape photography can be expensive
If you suffer from GAS, and cannot control it all that well, I feel especially bad for you. You see, landscape photography is a genre that you can easily blow your life-savings on in terms of new gear. Tripods range in price from a cheap piece of plastic for $25 at Walmart to a $2000 one made by the king company of tripods: Really Right Stuff. Cameras are yet another expense, especially when you feel the need for more megapixels, more details, better dynamic range. The Nikon D850 and Canon 5DS R quickly come to mind: both are high-megapixel cameras specifically made for the landscape photographer. And both of them are insanely expensive, coming in at $3000+ each, without a lens. Oh yeah, you need a lens too. Prime lenses are sharper and can be stopped down, so you should probably get some of those. You’ll want a 24mm, a 50mm, maybe an 85mm, probably should get the 105mm, and definitely, definitely need a 300mm or even 500mm lens. So, that’s another $3000+ for the 300mm lens alone. Good luck.
Even buying the bare essentials, you are going to be spending quite a bit of money. Most base-level cameras come in at $500; you will also want to pick up a wider lens, such as the 24mm; a tripod strips you of another $300, so long as you buy something that’s truly worth it; an ND filter and a polarizer come in at about $200 from Formatt Hitech; a shutter release trigger costs about $25, although you can get ones that are cheaper or more expensive. Those six items will cost you almost $2000. If you want to get better gear, you will end up spending even more. Again, I say, good luck.
Especially since it is tough to make money
So, I haven’t convinced you to not pursue landscape photography yet, huh? Alright, well, allow me to try again with this point.
Although you shouldn’t do anything for the money – in terms of hobbies – you are going to be hard-pressed to find a full-time landscape photography making their living solely off landscape photography. Nine times out of ten, they have to do something on the side to help supplement their craft; whether it’s doing videos on YouTube, sponsorships, or even doing another genre of photography like weddings or products, most photographers need to pursue multiple jobs.
You think you’re going to sell a ton of prints, make bank off your work, and never have to worry about paying bills, right? Think again. There are very few people out there willing to dish out the money for a print, especially when they can simply print it off at home and hang it. It doesn’t matter if the quality isn’t as good – they still have it on their walls for a lot less. And if you think that you will get paid by companies for them to use your images on their websites, billboards, etc., you need to reevaluate your situation. Maybe ten, twenty years ago you could have made $25k on a licensing deal; nowadays, you are lucky if you make $2,500.
Oh, and stock photography? It’s an oversaturated field where you make pennies off your hard work. It’s a ton of extra work for very little profit. Yeah, the extra $250 a month – if you’re lucky – would be nice, but it’s not going to pay the bills in its entirety.
There are few subjects that have already been photographed
You’re already on the internet reading this, so go ahead and look up the Grand Teton Mountains on Google Images. See how many results there are for that one location? Even if you decide to look up a lesser known location, say Hickory Run State Park, you will be hard-pressed to find a unique subject. Why is this? Because everyone has a camera in their back pockets. And everyone is fascinated with taking images of everything they see.
Long days, little yield
Time after time, I find myself spending an entire day outside only to come back home – exhausted in every way possible – with only one or two images worth-while. Hell, I went on a weeklong trip out west with my family and took very few images that I deem as being “portfolio worthy.” And while that could very well just be me, I know many times that other photographers feel the same way. You are spending entire days out in nature, lugging around heavy gear, coming home feeling drained, only for you to not have a single image worth showing. Even if you do manage to get a few images, if you average it out, most of my trips yield only one image for every two or so hours out in the field. It kind of sucks, when you think about it.
Finally – the genre is overly saturated
I want you to look up one more thing on Google Images: landscape photography. If you can, figure out the number of results that come up. Now, take in for a moment all that competition that you have if you choose to get into this genre. There are thousands of wannabe landscape photographers out there, so standing out in this field is very difficult to do. It’s like a yellow cornstalk standing out in the midst of yellowish-green cornstalks: it may get noticed, but only by a few people, at select times.
If you really want to stand out, I recommend you make yourself as unique as possible. I’ll make sure to write an article outlining how to better stand out in your photography soon, and I will link it here.
Forget what I said – just do it for the love of it
This article has been rather negative – I knew that it would be when I first started writing it. Why? Because I want to convince you not to get into landscape photography, so that it is one less person I have to compete against. And even though I may have a few years more experience than you, it still sucks having so much competition. But on the flipside, it forces me to think; it forces me to push myself even further than I normally would in hopes of standing out and making it in this overly saturated world.
My biggest recommendation I have for you is simple: if you love doing something, forget about the cost. Forget about getting noticed, about the long days. Just get off your ass, get yourself out there, and start doing what you love.