In Mt Zion, Utah, you’re surrounded by valleys of red rocks as you hike your way through the canyon. You see nothing but clear sky, jagged cliffs, and overgrown trees — the land is untouched and thriving. This is where you set up your tripod. This is your soundstage. Wonderful Machine defines landscape photography as:
Photography that can include open spaces of all sorts – urban, suburban, rural, water, aerial, night, day, with or without people/animals/structures/objects.
Landscape photography can involve elements of adventure, travel, brand narrative, auto & vehicles, and other commercial specialties – often, these images feature a product or person as an element in a beautiful vista. Other times, landscape imagery is used within the context of a travel or adventure story, like photographer Cristina Candel’s photo of a Moroccan town for Viajar Magazine.
Journalism exists to tell stories, and as much as I believe that the hills are alive, people are what really strike our interest. Few publications exist for the sole purpose of displaying gorgeous landscapes; however, many publications incorporate the specialty into their images in some way or another.
Publications like Outdoors and 30 Degrés show a variety of landscape images, often providing the context for an adventure sports story. Photographer David Carlier does a great job of capturing stunning landscape images while inviting adventure into his lens.
Other publications like Rucksack feature more traditional, fine-art landscape photography. Expect to find the most eye-opening, jaw-dropping images within them.
Another outlet for landscape photography is within brands’ custom publications. Air Berlin’s in-flight magazine details travel destinations reachable on Air Berlin flights. Ian MacLellan took advantage of this opportunity to display a beautiful Boston sunset on a two-page spread.
Some brands use landscapes to help tell their story. The great outdoors may be a large part of their brand identity, or they may focus on the ruggedness of mountains or the beauty of a meadow. While a photo might highlight the boots you wear when hiking up a scenic trail or the gear that allows you to climb an intimidating mountain, the product within that image is engaging with the surrounding landscape. It’s the scenery that truly defines the brand.
REI is a great example of this – they have so much gear to get you outside, but they don’t let that distract you from what they’re really selling: the great outdoors.
Solomon Running breaks the mold to take a step away from the standard brand narrative. Instead, Solomon uses landscape photography, so that runners can picture themselves in a beautiful environment, doing what they love (in Solomon XT Wings GTX, of course). In this example, Solomon captures its viewers with a less-aggressive, more immersive advertisement.
Landscape can overlap with a lot of other specialties: brand narrative, adventure, travel, and even auto & vehicles. Brands like Jeep and Land Rover pride themselves on slicing through a stream or gliding down rocky terrain. Matt Jones took to the roads of Colorado to find the perfect backdrop for the adventurous Mazda CX-5.
The great thing about landscape photography — besides the awe-inspiring imagery — is that there are endless applications in the commercial industry. The above examples are just a sample of what landscape has to offer, but the possibilities are endless.