Intuition ~ The Missing Link of Landscape Photography

Like many other photographers who sell prints of their landscape photography work, I too have my “best sellers”. But what about so many other images that are nice shots, photos I have received many compliments on, but have not made a penny in the store? Intuition is a necessity for inspirational landscape photography.

~ This is not a “How to” tutorial. This is another photographer’s lesson-learned of who I am in whatever it is I do. In this case, what I do is photography ~

It took me time to learn the answers. I can tell you, and I will, but if you are still somewhat new to photography, especially landscape photography in hopes of selling prints, it will take your own experience to understand. You may even rewrite this topic in your own words one day!

Tall Trees Colorado Landscape Photography Pikes National Forest
Against Reason – going against rational judgment!

With today’s  technological advancements in digital cameras and software, especially phone cameras, the adage seems to be true, “Everyone is a photographer”. Well…one thing I believe separates a talented photographer from “anyone with a camera”, is intuition. The photographer’s intuition which can only come by experience with the camera, time in the field, and tons of learning by not following our intuition!

Recently, I wrote an article on landscape photography referring to one of the key requirements for lighting success – timing. I also refer to this timing as “The Fourth Dimension of Photography”. Now I want to explore another facet I have spent my life learning to do in everyday living – Intuition.

~ Intuition…the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. “We shall allow our intuition to guide us”…Google Dictionary ~
Intuitiveness in photography is much more than a tool of the mind. It is an artist’s creative attribute. It is the hidden, behind the scenes of the mind, power to see what others may be drawn to see, something we are drawn to in nature, an allurement of scenery. Intuition for a photographer works best when we leave the intent to please others behind.
I remember the days of spending time trying to decide where I would go or what landscape or setting I was going to photograph. Sometimes the energy I would drain trying to make a decision, would be the reason for me to not go out at all, or find something else to do entirely. Now, herein may lie a dilemma.
~ Sometimes, by being hesitant to go where I was planning to go, I would later discover that I just may have been following my intuition? Really? ~
I have learned in my life that there are two ways to find that intuitive direction. One – when there seems to be something holding me back, or Two – by just walking out the door with no plan in mind and just see where the day takes me. In all honesty, I do best with the first one. Either way, you are a photographer, an artist, a creative human being. Don’t allow yourself not to go out when you feel different than you did the day before when you were all excited to go set up your camera in the perfect little valley or in front of the historic homestead. Let intuition take over – no matter where it leads you. Learn how to do this!

~ All of the images in this weblog are shots I got by using both methods, by changing my mind or by just randomly setting out somewhere. Each image’s description is labeled by which intuitive method was used – Against Reason or Random ~

Centennial Farmhouse Colorado Landscape Photography
Random – Turned left instead of right

Now here is a story…

I had planned the evening before to awaken early, drive up into the mountains for some “changing colors of the Aspen”. To my disappointment, when morning came, it was unexpectedly rainy. Still sleepy, I decide to use this as an excuse to make another pot of coffee and enjoy a relaxing day.

Not to be. Restlessness set in and the questions of “should I or should I not” began to audit my intent. I could sense those gnawing  feelings and twinges of guilt begin. But guilt can be a motivator. It can be a signal to run on intuition, which is what I did. I grabbed my gear, went to my car and began to drive up into the mountains. The higher in elevation I rose, the foggier the atmosphere became. Before long visibility was on the verge of dangerous. I decided that I should have followed my earlier instincts and just stayed home. I was feeling overwhelmed with that “Well this day sucks” feeling. Just ahead, I saw a pull-off on the isolated, winding road and began the first move to turn around and go back home.

As I was about to pull back onto the roadway into a left u-turn, I noticed through the dense fog, a sign. Squinting my eyes I could make out the words “Entering Pike National Forest”. At the sign seemed to be an opening into the trees. Instinct, a close relative to intuition struck me, along with a little curiosity. I pulled my car into a parking position, got out and took a look. Sure enough it was an opening into the forest. I walked into the trees and immediately discovered within myself just how miraculously intuition can become inspiration. Standing in the midst of this beautiful, Autumn forest my thought was, “I need to get my camera before this all disappears!”

One of the results of this morning, is one of my best sellers you see here. I simply call it “Forest Fog”

landscape and fine art photography
“Forest Fog” Against Reason

As a landscape photographer, or as a photographer who wishes to capture landscapes that others are drawn to, learn to rely on your own intuition. Let intuition be your guide. Loosen up, let go as you would in life. Use your own experience of who you are. What inspires your inner being, may also inspire the inner being of others. At least the odds are now in your favor!