The Ugly Truth About Iconic Places in Landscape Photography

There is nothing better than being out in nature, inhaling all the mood out there, deciding on the best possible camera position, and enjoying landscape photography. But what if there are 25 other photographers beside you so that it becomes difficult to move just 20 inches to the left or right without disturbing another photographer?
In my latest video on YouTube, I take you with me on a road trip through gorgeous Tuscany in Italy. It is a well-known area that was already painted by the world’s greatest artists of the Renaissance. Today, it is visited by landscape photographers from all over the world. This is not surprising, as the landscapes are indescribably impressive there.

You can try to find your own intimate spots there, but you are dependent on the parking possibilities if you don’t want to hike far distances to a spot in the dark before sunrise. I have been to Tuscany with my camper van, which is much bigger than a usual car, so the majority of parking possibilities besides the road didn’t work in so many cases. This is why my main focus was on some well-known photo spots, while I kept my eyes open for intimate places as well.

Having Luck With the Light

It is quite interesting that a lot of landscape photographers think it is all about luck for getting the right light and weather for a particular spot and that the photographer who has the most luck will return with the best photograph. But this is simply not the case. You can predict the weather using weather maps, which leads to fantastic results in my experience. Of course, when you are in an area for just a few days, you could also have bad luck with getting the totally wrong weather for a specific composition. The trick is to not be fixed on single photo spots or even on single compositions. I plan a couple of different places that work for different weather and light situations so that I am prepared for each case. And important to consider is that not only light and weather make a masterpiece, but you also have to nail the composition.

The Missing Intimate Connection

I have to say; I love to work on my own intimate spots in landscape photography. There is a lot of exploration work necessary in front, and sometimes, I decide to return there are weeks, months, or even years later when conditions are perfect. I often return multiple times to understand the place and, most importantly, to get an emotional connection to the spot. The more you know your subject, the more you can fall in love with it and the deeper you can work a composition. To achieve that, I have to be focused and undisturbed. The ugly truth is that exactly this is missing at an iconic place. When you arrive at the photo spot and there are 20 or 30 other photographers around, talking, laughing, and limiting you in your ability to walk around and try for the best possible perspective, your results will maybe not be the quality that you are used to.

But there is a simple trick to get rid of that, and to be honest, I don’t know why this is not done by the majority of landscape photographers who photographed at iconic places. I visit the photo spot the day before or at least some hours before when fewer people are around, where I can move around wherever I want, where I can feel the landscape and scene, where I might see even a specific story because I am absolutely focused on my photography. I can think about how the light will change at the time of my planned shooting. And very important is to return there early enough, so that I can set up exactly where I decided already was my best possible camera position. And so, when other photographers frantically stumble into the field, looking for the last possible camera positions, you are already ready and just enjoy the rising sun and the hustle and bustle of the eager photographers beside you.

The truth about iconic places is that these places are proven. The subjects are well known, and copying a composition doesn’t lead to something new. Frame up your own composition instead, consider the light and weather, get intimate with the scene, and arrive early to save a fantastic photography adventure.

To enjoy the entire adventure and to get a lot more tips about landscape photography, watch the above-linked video. And leave us a comment below on how you manage to get fantastic photographs at iconic places.