5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

Are you passionate about portrait photography? Do you love sharing images of your trips and landscape photos? Or maybe you spend your free time capturing the streets of your city?

Let me tell you something you might not know about yourself. Every now and then you are a landscape photographer, too. Everyone is. Let’s be honest, you couldn’t resist that beautiful mountain view you photographed a few weeks ago on a hike. Your social media feeds are full of your friends’ photos of canyons, lakes, and forests. Even your grandma sent you a picture of a sunset from her backyard the other day.

01 Sunset in Ilulissat Icefjord Greenland - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

The amount of landscapes captured and uploaded every day is overwhelming. So how can you make people stop and look at YOUR images? How do you make YOUR landscape photos stand out?

Here are some useful tips and tricks to help you. Save them for later, and the next time you are photographing a beautiful view make sure to follow them. You will have a much better chance of taking a good picture and making it noticed.

1. Less is more

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

011 Greenland midnight sun - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

This famous quote also applies very well to landscape photography. I know you are excited to show the whole world how beautiful nature is around you. However, often showing everything is equal to showing nothing.

For instance, look at the image below. It is simple and straightforward. You clearly know what the photographer tried to show.

Now, imagine there is a road below the greenery, two smaller mountains on the right and little pond on the left. You could capture all of that instead; it would give much more information about the location. However, then your viewer wouldn’t know where to look.

002 Bad weather Iceland - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

Your viewer is exposed to thousands of images every day (social media, streets banners, TV, online advertising, etc.). Don’t give him any more work. Seeing your photo should be an effortless and enjoyable process. Here is how to get rid of the unnecessary parts of your images:

  • If you have a zoom lens, zoom into the frame.
  • Reposition yourself. Sometimes you have to walk closer to your subject or choose a different point of view.
  • As a last resort – crop your image later. Generally, It’s not advisable to crop more than 20% of your images. This rule will keep you more disciplined about your choices in the field. Also, it will help you keep your images in high resolution in case you decide to print them one day or participate in photography contests. (Many contests don’t allow cropping more than 20%).

2. Avoid distractions

Now you’ve decided which part of the scene is the most compelling. But before you click the shutter, make sure that these technicalities are in check:

A) Check that the horizon is straight. Turn on the grid in your camera to help you with that.

003 Nepal tilted horizon - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

004 Nepal straight horizon - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

B) Position your subject away from the middle of the frame. Most of the time you will find yourself following the rule of thirds

005 Rule of thirds precise - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

.Sometimes following the rule, precisely.

006 Rule of thirds approximate - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

Sometimes, not so much.

C) Get your settings right to avoid overexposed, underexposed, blurry, or noisy images.

3. Look for color contrast

This is an extremely important concept that you need to be familiar with.

Our brains are wired in a way that when we look at a picture, we first respond to contrasts in color and light, then to the shape, size and other characteristics of the scene.

Make sure you know the theory of color contrast. The general rule is that cold and warm colors work well together. Here are some examples:

007 color contrast moon iceberg - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

008 color contrast aurora - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

4. Test a thumbnail of your image

In a perfect world, you would make a large format print of your image and people would come and spend hours savoring every detail of it. In reality, your picture will be one of many tiny thumbnails on someone’s social media feed. (If you don’t post your images online, you can skip this part.)

A great exercise is to look at your image as a small thumbnail. Can you tell what’s on it? Would you pay attention to it if you saw it on your Instagram timeline or would you scroll past it? You’ll notice, that simple images with high color and/or light contrast stand out the most.

Can you guess which of the images from the grid below got the most amount of interaction on Instagram?

009 thumbnail grid - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

5. Is the image good or does it make YOU feel good?

You just came back from a trip and that sunset you observed with your partner was amazing. You still remember the sound of the waves and the warm wind coming from the sea. Time to share that memory with the world!

99% of the time, that’s fine if you want a snapshot of a holiday, but not if you want people to see an artistic value in it. A great image should be great by itself, regardless of what emotions you have attached to it.

A good practice is to look through your photos weeks, or sometimes months after you took them. You will be surprised at how your selection will change compared to the day of the shoot.

Here are a couple more images that follow the tips above.

010 iceland beach - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

012 Norway window lights - 5 Tricks to Make Your Landscape Photos Stand Out

Over to you

Do you have some images that reflect the points of this article? Share them in the comment section so that others can learn from you.

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