On several occasions, when others have viewed one photograph or another of mine, I’ve been asked how far I had to hike, climb, or otherwise go out of my way to get a particular image. There seems to be an assumption that landscape photography requires a commitment to travel to remote, out of the way, or otherwise difficult-to-access places.
Sometimes this is true. There are a few photographs in my portfolio that required at least a hike of a few miles – see the image in my previous post for an example. However, the vast majority of my landscape images are made by the side of the road.
This view of Spanish Peaks, a landmark in Southern Colorado, probably is quite familiar to anyone who has driven on U.S. Highway 160 west out of Walsenberg, Colorado on the way to La Veta Pass. I found myself on this road a couple of weeks ago on the way to photograph the sand formations in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Though I hadn’t planned on photographing these peaks, I know a good thing when I see one, and when I saw this scene coming together I didn’t hesitate to pull over to the side of the road (safely, of course) to photograph for 20 minutes or so.
I think the principle at stake here is that there is good photography all around us. Photographers, especially those of the landscape variety, seem to want to put themselves through extraordinary lengths to get a photograph. That can be appropriate, but by no means is it necessary. The quality of a photograph is largely unrelated to when, where, and how it was captured, at least in my experience.