Tag Archives: landscape photography

Fail Fail Fail Succeed, Irony

Today I was watching a corporate video which examined the difference between invention and innovation. (Please keep reading – I know that was a boring first sentence but it does get better). Invention is about making something for the very first time, while innovation is about building on something that already exists. (Trust me it does get better, just keep going). Innovation is the buzzword of the corporate world. Everyone wants more innovation. So why fail fail fail succeed, irony? The video pointed out that to have an innovative business, you needed to be prepared to fail and accept failure as a stepping stone on the path way to success. At this point the corporate world started to explain what I often try to explain to photographers. Their photography is good, but their business is lousy. And it’s not about simply stepping back onto the right path.


Success and failure aren’t different paths like here. Failure is a stepping stone to success.

I work with photographers to help improve their businesses. Unfortunately many come with the mindset that “I’m on the wrong track, can you just get me back on the path to success?”. It is not that easy, and doesn’t work that way. What works for one photographer, may not work for another. So you can’t copy what someone else is doing and expect it to succeed for you. Just because a successful photographer is advertising on facebook, if you advertise on facebook it doesn’t guarantee business success for you.

This is also what makes it exciting. There are lots of different ways to business success – you have to find the one that works for you and your business. There is no set formula – you have to find your own path.

So if success and failure are not different paths, how does it work? Explaining this is easy – living it is difficult!

Failure and success are on the same path. Failures are stepping stones to success. If you want to improve your business, challenge yourself to make more mistakes. Try things, learn from them. Have more failures, have more learnings. Trust that each failure is getting you closer to business success.

Take steps forward towards success. And once you get there, redefine success. That’s how it works. Failures are stepping stones toward success. If you give up, you may have stopped moving forward when you were just one step from business success! I’m grateful for the corporate video explaining it so well. Lots and lots of photographers could benefit from this insight.

So where does the irony part come in? Ironically, as photographers and creatives we understand that mistakes are ok.

Who takes only one landscape shot, knowing it is the best shot they could possibly take? In short, nobody does – especially in the digital age where it doesn’t cost more to shoot more. We take multiple images. We compose and recompose. We shoot, then review, then shoot again.


I can’t remember how many shots I took of this sunrise, but I certainly didn’t view the others as failures

We find new and different ways to view a scene. We might take 50 shots of a sunrise to get the image that really speaks to us. Do we view 49 of those images as failures? Heck, no! We know they were stepping stones and experiments that got us to the image we love. They gave us a point of reference to then shoot the best image of the day.

See the irony? As creatives we get it, and as business people we don’t. This insight can change your business today. Those 49 shots aren’t failures, they were helping you build up to the success.

See failures as the stepping stones to success. Fail fail fail succeed, irony. Pick up your camera and go and fail some more! Your business success depends on it.

Can I Make Money in Stock Photography from Landscape and Cityscape Images

I participate in several photography groups on Facebook. This week I posted a reply to a group member who was exploring stock photography. After several messages, he asked me – can I make money in stock photography from landscape and cityscape images?

My response to him was that – yes, you can. But the reality is that simple landscape and cityscape images are highly competitive. There are hundreds of contributors submitting this type of material, and millions of existing images. So, it won’t be easy to create unique images that continue to be downloaded.

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge, Melbourne, Australia. A specific scene shot in dramatic light.

So, if you want to generate an income from stock photography with this style of image, what is the best chance of success? Here are five suggestions for giving you the greatest chance of success.

  1. Shoot in the best light. There are likely to be hundreds of competing images to your own. Make your point of difference images shot in excellent light. This will likely mean sunrise and sunset shoot times.
  2. Shoot tourist highlights. There is ongoing demand for images which capture the icons of a city or a well known landscape. Take the time to shoot the tourist highlights of your city, or well known landscape spots.
  3. Shoot like a local. There is increasing demand for images which capture the essence of a city in a way only a local would know. Shoot the back laneways, cafes, popular meeting places. Use your local knowledge to shoot places that only a local would know.
  4. Develop an expansive body of work. What does that mean? It means you are going to stick at this. You are going to shoot different elements, in different conditions, at different times of year. It is not a random shot taken here or there, it’s about developing a range of work.
  5. Document the city or landscape year round. Cities and landscapes look very different at different times of year. Take advantage of the different seasons to add a new look to your work.

And like anyone using stock photography to generate a meaningful income – you need to treat this like a business. Set a goal for how many files you plan to upload this month and this year. Work at it. Keep adding to your portfolio. Develop variety in your images. Study similar images which have been successful as stock. What are the elements you are going to emulate in your own images? And keep working at it. Stock photography is based on the idea that you will do the work now (shoot, edit and upload) and be rewarded later (downloads and income). So keep working at it.


In my experience generic scenes like this don’t offer good returns as stock

Landscapes and cityscapes are very competitive areas, but it is possible to make money in these areas. My experience is that cityscapes and specific landscape images provide better returns than very generic landscapes. Look for your image to tell a story of a specific place.

Thanks for reading ‘can I make money in stock photography from landscape and cityscape images?’

Patience and Timing

Bolte Bridge

Melbourne Sunset. Looking out over Bolte Bridge. 8.41pm.

I had the good luck to be in the city in Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday this week as this sunset unfolded. I was meeting a person at 9pm and had traveled into the city early. I was there at 8.15pm and had 45 minutes to occupy myself before the meeting. I had taken my camera with the expectation of being able to do a short shoot and adding to my stock portfolio. The sunset which unfolded took most of my attention and my breath away. It reminded me of the importance of patience and timing.

When I first arrived the sun was going down. There were plenty of light clouds around, but very little color in the sky. I was having a relaxing walk around the Docklands area, unaware of the spectacular sunset which was about to unfold.

For most of the next 20 minutes there was little to get excited about, although there was slightly more color in the sky. Then over a brief 9 minute window I took the 5 images you see in this post.

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.32pm

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.34pm

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.36pm

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.40pm
















At 8.32pm there was still very little color to be seen. I had positioned myself at the city end of Docklands looking out towards the Bolte Bridge and the setting sun. I considered leaving as I had a 20 minute walk to my appointment. I am glad I stayed, as over the next few minutes you can see the change in color in the sky, culminating in a vivid orange and purple skyline in the vertical image here shot at 8.40pm and the horizontal one at the top of this post shot at 8.41pm.

It was a good lesson in patience and timing. Landscape photographers who shoot at sunrise and sunset know this lesson well. It is worth being in position early and then being patient. Sometimes you get a spectacular scene like this and sometimes you don’t – but nothing is more frustrating than packing your gear into the car and realizing you missed a great opportunity. The lesson on patience and timing also applies to other types of photography. I shoot weddings and family portraits and there is often a split second between a great image and a bride with her eyes shut looking terrible.

It seems ironic – talking about patience and timing – that I had to run to make it to my 9pm appointment. I arrived hot and sweaty, but on time and with a series of sunset images!

Creative Cropping

This post covers a way to achieve different visual effects with one image by use of creative cropping. Today, achieving different effects is straight forward – if you are not an expert in photoshop or lightroom, there are lots of simple smart phone apps you can use to crop and adjust your images.

Show me some images!

In this post we will look at one image, adjusted using creative cropping.

Here is the original image. This shot was taken at Hahei Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula in the north island of New Zealand. This is a fantastic place to visit. It faces east, so you see magnificent sun rises over the water. I had the good fortune to visit Hahei in March 2014 to shoot a wedding. This shot was taken on the morning of the wedding during an early morning walk on the beach.

Hahei Beach

Original image, Hahei Beach

The image has a nice sunrise, a reflection in the water, some islands, and a human presence through the yacht on the right of the image. (I was jealous when I thought about people on the yacht seeing this type of sunrise every morning!)

This image has several creative cropping options. Let’s look at two different horizontal options first.

Hahei Beach

Horizontal crop of Hahei Beach sunrise


Horizontal crop of Hahei Beach sunrise

The first creative cropping horizontal image retains the human element by including the yacht. The second version excludes the yacht and creates a stronger feeling of nature and isolation – with a bigger role played by the golden sky. Both of these images make use of the horizontal elements of interest in the image.

This type of image also has a vertical option for creative cropping. This style of creative cropping makes use of the vertical elements in the image – in this case the reflection of the sunlight on the water – which makes a pathway from the top to the bottom of the image.

Hahei Beach

Vertical crop, Hahei beach sunrise

My favorite images here are the second horizontal crop, and the vertical image. I like the simplicity the creative cropping has brought, and the strong role played by the golden colors. Which is your favorite?