The Art of Composition in Landscape Photography

Composition is not just about aligning elements pleasingly; it’s about conveying the narrative and emotion of the scene. This subtle yet powerful aspect of photography is often overlooked, making it a vital area for photographers to explore and master.

Coming to you from Christian Irmler - Landscape Photography, this insightful video looks at a common mistake many photographers make: focusing too narrowly on compositional architecture. Irmler, who grew up in an artistic family and learned about composition from a young age, initially believed that his deep understanding of composition gave him an edge in photography. Over time, however, he realized that knowing where to place lines, shapes, and patterns in a frame is just one piece of the puzzle. The true essence of photography, especially in landscape photography, lies in capturing the spirit of the place. Irmler emphasizes the importance of engaging with the scene, understanding its impact on you emotionally, and then using compositional skills to enhance the narrative of the image.

The video further illustrates this point with examples from Irmler's own experiences. He describes how, in the rush to capture a scene before crowds arrived, he once focused solely on the technical aspects of composition, resulting in an image that, while technically sound, lacked emotional depth. In contrast, when he took the time to absorb the atmosphere and essence of a location, his photographs resonated more powerfully, telling a story beyond mere shapes and patterns. This approach to composition — considering the emotional and narrative elements of a scene — is what sets apart good landscape photography from the truly remarkable. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Irmler.

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out our latest tutorial, "Photographing the World: Japan With Elia Locardi!" 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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