Top 7 Reasons To Be A Nature Photographer

This is not a tutorial in any way. This article is about sharing how I feel about all the hours I spend in the field chasing light and compositions. I'm always looking to add to my portfolio of Fine Art Landscape Photography.

1. Getting Outside

I would guess we have all had jobs in the non-photography world at one time or another. Most other occupations involve being inside all day, with the exception of a brief escape for lunch. If it is outside, it could involve some physical labor, which isn’t much fun either.

The outside world where Nature Photography takes place is an amazing office. The air is fresh and the views are spectacular. I just love being outside. I really don’t care if it’s raining. I’m outside. I’m free. The rain will always stop. If I’m waiting for conditions, I can just sit back and enjoy the view.

2. A Better Kind Of Stress

Other occupations can have schedules to adhere to, deadlines to meet, goals to satisfy, bosses to please, etc. I’m sure you know exactly what I am talking about. At the end of the week, you are worn out and need the weekend to recover. When I’m in the field, I sometimes forget which day of the week it is.

Sure, I have to be concerned about weather forecasts, sunrise times, tide tables, where I am going to place my tripod at sunrise and more. The difference is those are just parts of a fun puzzle. There’s no real stress because if it doesn’t come together today, there is always tomorrow.

lightning and storm clouds over the grand canyon
"Eelctric Canyon" An amazing few minutes on the South Rim

3. You Even Get Some Exercise

I was never much for getting on a treadmill or a stationary bike. I’d much rather go for a walk. Well, with Nature Photography, you can get as much exercise as you can handle. Trails can be long, and they can be steep. How much exercise you get is entirely up to you. I’ve learned to check out trail lengths and elevation gains in advance. I also have to admit, I prefer the trails that go uphill first and then return downhill.

4. New Places

I love being able to go places I’ve never been before. Nature photography provides me with the best excuses for that. Maybe it’s a National Park I haven’t explored, a mountain road I haven’t been on or even another country I haven’t been to before. For me, every new experience is exciting. I seem to always feel like there’s going to be something good around the next curve.

photo of Jaguar in the weeds
"On The Prowl" I had not planned on photographing in Brazil, but here I was with the Jaguars in the Pantanal.

5. Learning To See

Before becoming a Nature Photographer, I just saw the general scene, like your average tourist. Now, everywhere I go, I am looking at things differently. I see skies and clouds in a whole new way and with far more appreciation.

I’m constantly looking at scenes and evaluating them as potential compositions. I’m looking at small intimate scenes for compositions and other situations that would produce a good abstract photograph. As I drive around during mid-day hours scouting, I am enjoying the “thrill of the hunt” for something new. I love the way it keeps my mind working.

6. Raising Awareness

I have shared many photographs with others from my travels in the United States, and the most common comment I get is “I had no idea that was in our country”. Sure, there are other ways people can learn what is out there, be it television shows or publications, but most don’t take the time. The more people know about what’s outside, the more likely they could become interested or involved in helping to protect it.

photo of storm over the desert
"Purple Storm" I really enjoy showing people images from places in the United States that they had no idea exists. These are all places that need to be protected.

7. The Incredible Memories

In Nature Photography, it’s about being at the right place at the right time. Sometimes you make the right decisions where to be and sometimes you just get lucky. The thrill is the same. I’ll always remember standing on the side of the road in the San Juan Mountains, hoping the fast-moving snowstorm covering Twilight Peak would clear before the sun set.

The camera was on the tripod with high hopes. The storm cleared, the snow-covered mountain appeared, the clouds lit up and sixty seconds later it was over. As I drove back to Ouray, there were a few fist pumps as I knew I had just got very, very lucky. A large framed acrylic print hangs in my office to this day.

Snowstorm on Mountain at sunset
"Twilight Surprise" The snowstorm cleared, the sun lit up the clouds and it was over in a minute

If I Knew Then

I sometimes chuckle thinking about if I had known years ago when I started what I would have to learn and go through in order to capture great images, I might not have bothered. Today, the many mistakes have been forgotten and replaced by all the memories of great experiences. I wouldn’t trade any of it. I am truly experiencing the pure joy of being a nature photographer. My friends tell me I am living the dream. I can’t argue with that.