5 Things You Should Know About Adventure Photography

Oh, the glamorous life of adventure and landscape photography!

By: Christin Healey + Save to a List

I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend their days in the sunshine, fresh air, and take out the old camera to snap a few images when the urge hits you? Well, the reality is just a tad different than a lot of folks imagine, so I have outlined a few sage pieces of advice to help you can go out into the world with your game face on:

1. Nix the word “vacation” from your vocabulary

So, you are going on a trip to some beautiful locale? Wonderful! But if you want to get images that really stand out from the crowd, you won’t be throwing back any pina coladas beach-side anytime soon.

You probably already know by now that sunrise and sunset provide some of the best light to shoot in, so get ready to be in position at that magical spot, Every.Single.Day. That stunning image you see from your favorite photographer most likely took more than one pre-dawn excursion to that picture-perfect spot, so get your coffee mugs ready for action. Not to say this can’t be an adventure in its own right, just be prepared to grab at every chance for nature to do its amazing thing.

2. Say goodbye to a “normal” social life

Remember those sunrise and sunset shots we talked about? Well, you can forget lounging in your bed or tent and waking up slowly, or dinner + drinks with your crew — unfortunately the best time to be out in the field typically falls smack dab in the middle of happy hour or strolling to that perfect cafe for croissants. Getting most people up before dawn to climb a mountain is tough, but I have found that some persuasion to watch a sunset over a few summit drinks can work wonders for keeping up with the rest of society.

3. Ditch creature comforts

Remember that really awesome image we talked about before? What you don’t see is the hours of waiting for the sun to be just right, the nights spent catching a few zzzz’s awkwardly positioned in backseat of your car, or the dreams of burgers and fries while your body demands food on that windy beach. In his recent Ted Talk, legend adventure photographer Chris Burkard said, "Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer, just a little bit.” There was some controversy over this statement, but in my humble opinion, he could not have said it better. You will have glorious days, and you will have days where a hail storm hits you out of nowhere on that ridge line, a wave comes too close and soaks your shoes and half your pants in the Arctic, or the humidity is so intense you seriously consider digging a little burrow to escape. Hang on, you will get through this :)

4. Scout, shoot, edit, repeat

There are those very rare moments where you just stumble upon that perfect setting with the wildflowers framing the lake and the mountain behind it all, but most of the time those shots you seen are hard won. Location scouting before you travel is key, and even more important is to get a lay of the land when you actually arrive at your spot. Wildflowers not blooming or wilted away at that epic field you researched and planned for months? You need to be able to come up with a Plan B stat so you can still get that shot you were dreaming of. Who knows, having a unique perspective an overly photographed spot could end up being a bonus! Either way, schedule plenty of time to wander around and find your perfect composition.

5. Soak it all in

With all this being said, being out in the world, watching the sunset or rise on the horizon is nothing short of magic. All the early mornings and long nights are always worth it, and summiting that mountain, finishing that long trail, waking up with the mountains at your tentstep, or getting that perfect shot is one of the most gratifying feelings you can have. Being behind the camera, you really take in every single element of the scene, and appreciate nature in a whole new way. Just don’t forget to take a step back, take a deep breath, and soak it all in.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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