Landscapes and Solitude

2 trees stand in winter snow in a field in Hokaido.

A lot of people ask me about my process for creating images. For landscape photography in particular, there are lots of things that need to be considered. How do I find the right subject? How do I balance variables like lighting and framing with optimal times of the day for shooting? How do I judge weather conditions? And, of course, how should I measure the inconvenience factor of getting to remote locations at particular times on particular days, all just for the chance to capture a image.

A major question for me in relation to my process, and one of the determining factors for almost all of my photography, is whether or not to create images in the company of others. This has been a long running source of conflict in my journey to become a better, happier, photographer, and for so long I’ve tried to balance my feelings of being a bit less comfortable in a group with the potential benefits that can come from shooting with other photographers.

Ultimately, it’s a personal decision that you need to make to determine what you think would be most helpful for your photography. Above all else, I’m quite introverted, and I’ve learned that I don’t experience an emotional connection with the landscape with as much depth and poetry when I’m around other people as when I’m alone. It doesn’t matter how incredible or beautiful a scene may be. If I’m around other people I can become uncomfortable, distracted, or self-conscious, and after that the photographs won’t come.

That said, in small doses, I have learned to appreciate the benefits from creating and shooting in the company of others. Many talented artists benefit a lot from shooting images in a group, because having other creative and innovative people around you can generate positive and collaborative energy that can help everyone achieve quality artwork. Having people to share ideas with, and to give immediate feedback and help on the spot can be really helpful. I’ve always had the idea in the future to put together photography tours for small groups who want to learn and develop their skills as part of a team. I know that such experiences can be very helpful, and while I may not be the most accomplished photographer, I believe that I have something to offer in relating my experiences and skills to others in a way that could actually be helpful. In terms of process, I think that’s the most important thing to keep in mind.

Everyone is different and everyone experiences things differently. There is no right or wrong method, and no way of teaching that speaks to every photographer. I’m lucky that I’ve discovered what helps me achieve the kind of artwork that I want to create, and that I know what doesn’t benefit me. Once you discover more of those things about yourself, the process becomes easier, and the better your images will become. It’s all about achieving balance and giving yourself the range of experiences that will lead to you becoming a better artist. For me, that means appreciating shooting in a group, but knowing that I’m also happy and productive in different ways when shooting on my own.