Finding stories to tell in our landscape

August has seen me head out to familiar places like Hilbre Island and new ones including Moel Famau & the Rhyl Airshow, but I’m often asked how I go about finding compositions, in situations like these.

How do you find stories to tell in new locations?

For me, landscape photography is all about stories, finding ways to use light to emphasise elements of your shots to tell a story, really adds to the composition and gives it some punch. But finding these stories can be a challenge, especially if the weather is dull and grey.

At Moel Famau this month we were met with a dull grey sky, but I always approach a location in the same way, what are the stories I can tell here? It could be a story of walkers climbing a hill, a story that shows the ending of a day, the changing of the seasons or, with the tower at the summit of Moel Famau, the passage of time. All of these lead me to compositions that try to tell these stories, adding or removing elements to help with this process.

Of course, light is the most important element of photography so never ignore what the landscape is telling you. If there’s a break in the cloud and a shaft of light breaks through, ask yourself, is there something that light is hitting that can form my composition? These are my favourite shots as it’s like the universe is shining a big spotlight on the landscape just waiting for you to capture the show.

But what about familiar locations?

You’ll know I’ve visited Hilbre hundreds of times, I never tire of it, the lapping of the waves, the wind through the grass, it’s such a beautiful location. But finding new and interesting shots of the island can be a challenge. First and foremost I don’t punish myself if I don’t find anything, finding compositions can be hard, but mainly I try and put my camera in new places, or places I’ve stood before at different times. Height can be a good way to do this, Is there a way to get up higher, or place the camera lower, Is there a cloud/rock/grass formation that I can use to echo another… are there any lines I can use to draw the eye in?

All of these can be used to create new stories in familiar locations, over time you get to know the type of compositions you like most and will start to naturally lead yourself to them, trust in the process, get out with your camera and enjoy yourself.

This month’s shots

Well after reading my ramblings I hope you’d like to see some of the shots I’ve taken this month, I have walks and workshops available right through the end of the year so please click here to see my upcoming events.

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