8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images

Explore ways to capture the beauty of the outdoors in dynamic images with tips from eight experienced adventure photographers.

With trending hashtags like #vanlife, #traveldiaries, and #offgrid filling up our Instagram feeds, it’s clear that adventure photography is thriving. As the public learns more about the threats that face the natural world (including climate change, plastic pollution, and habitat loss), we’re craving images that reconnect us with wild places.

This movement towards authentic, back-to-nature imagery extends to commercial photography as well. Landscape photographs have always been popular, but if you can add that experiential, first-person element to your pictures—for example, a model looking out over the mountains—you can take it one step further by tapping into our collective longing for the great outdoors.

Recently, adventure photographers have in some ways stepped into the shoes once worn by conservation photographers like Ansel Adams and Carleton Watkins. Their images serve as powerful reminders of the enduring connection between humankind and our natural resources.

We spoke with eight artists from around the world about how they create meaningful and resonant pictures of their off-grid adventures in nature. Read on for their best tips—and some memories they’ve gathered along the way.

1. ​”Photograph people in the scene in their authentic movement and expression.”
Mary Osk​
8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Look for the Unexpected

Image by ​Mary Osk​. Gear: Nikon D810 camera, Nikon 70-200 f4 lens. Settings: Focal length 70mm; exposure 1/250 sec; f11; ISO 72.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

​This photo was taken—surprisingly—on the way to the Sahara desert! My group and I didn’t know Morocco had snow. We were expecting to be driving through drylands all the way to the desert. Instead, we had a mixture of many landscapes, with the views changing constantly. This particular image was taken high up on the Atlas Mountains. We went from driving on a dry mountain to being in a snowstorm in what felt like a matter of minutes!

I captured it at a cafe, which felt like it was in the middle of nowhere, where we had quickly stopped for a pit break. I decided to brace the cold and run outside to see if I could find any compositions, which is where I came across this mountain. It had such an eerie feel with the fog, and a road which felt like it was seemingly leading up to nowhere. It’s kind of how I felt too, not knowing what was around the corner on our road trip.

8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — The Moments In-Between

Image by ​Mary Osk

Pro Tip

​Capture the little details. To me, an adventure is not only about the big moment when you’ve arrived at your destination but all those moments in-between. For example, if you’re on a road trip, you could take a photo of the view from the car window, and include the interior in the frame to give reference to the journey. You could also photograph someone with their head out of the window as the wind is blowing through their hair to convey the freedom you felt.

Photograph people in the scene in their authentic movement and expression. This is a great way to capture the emotions of the adventure you’re on and translate that same feeling onto the viewer. One way to do this is to observe those you’re with and what they’re doing naturally when taking in a scene. Having that human element and storytelling can really elevate your images and make them more sellable.

Always make sure to get out of your comfort zone, and have fun! I think the best photos are those taken when you’re also enjoying the moment and pushing yourself to do and explore new things.

Instagram | ​Facebook​

2. ​”Y​ou will get the best photos in sunny weather at sunrise or sunset…”
Anna Averianovа (dezy)
8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Aim for Sunrise

Image by ​Anna Averianovа (dezy)​. Gear: ​Canon EOS 5D Mark IV​ camera, ​S​igma 35mm Art 1.4​ lens. Settings: Exposure ​1/320​ sec; f5; ISO ​250​.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

I often travel with my two dogs to Germany, Austria, and Italy by car, because I like exploring the local landscapes and mountains. ​This photo of me and my dog Ricky was taken during one of our trips to Italy. We were traveling through some of the popular lakes and passes in the area.

It was the beginning of June, but there was still snow high up in the mountains. Our usual route was blocked due to the snow, and the sun was setting fast. With ten minutes to spare, however, I found an unexpected parking spot with a fantastic view of the Dolomite Alps.

During the entire trip, I had wanted to take a self-portrait with my dog, and I had finally found the perfect place for that. There was nobody with us to take a photo, but I had a tripod with me, so I was able to create the composition myself.

Anna Averianovа (dezy)Anna Averianovа (dezy)

mosaic__mobile-caption">Pictured: [1] Anna Averianovа (dezy) [2] Anna Averianovа (dezy)

Pro Tip

Y​ou will get the best photos in sunny weather at sunrise or sunset, and that means that sometimes you will need to wake up while it’s still dark or not get any sleep at all in order to get to the right spot on time. I always keep a tent in my car (for occasional nights in the mountains), tripods, lenses (ranging from wide-angle ones to long ones). And as my dogs are my models, I always pack delicious food for them.

Website | ​Instagram​

3. ​”Our best-selling adventure photos are the ones that evoke emotion.”
Brenda and Marc Bergreen
8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Evoke Emotion

Image by ​Brenda and Marc Bergreen​. Gear: ​Canon ​5D Mark II camera, 85mm f/1.8 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/500 sec; f8.0; ISO 800.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

This photo was taken on a backpacking trip from Mineral King to Upper Monarch Lake in California. As the fog rolled in across from the lake, we knew it would make for a clean and moody photo. The fog made for interesting separation of the jumping rock and the opposite shoreline.

It was a cold swim to the rock, even colder climbing out of the water, but the main challenge was making a long dive that would look good in the photo. That whole trip was memorable and resulted in a lot of fun photos. We hiked Sawtooth Peak the next morning and summited just in time to see a storm coming over the opposite peak. Marc snapped a quick photo of my hair standing on end before we scrambled back down the mountain and got sheltered just before lightning struck.

8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Tell a Story

Image by ​Brenda and Marc Bergreen

Pro Tip

Our best-selling adventure photos are the ones that evoke emotion. There’s something about the way a photo can make you feel and that seems to be what buyers are looking for. It doesn’t even need to be the most spectacular view as long as it’s a moment that you can feel.

Look for a story. Adventure photos have an extra element to them in the form of a story. When you add a human subject, you’re telling about the experience of a place. It becomes about more than just a beautiful place but the impact that place can have. The athlete becomes a hero and the hiker becomes someone the viewer can relate to.

Have an adventure buddy! As a husband and wife team, we always have a subject. If we come across an inspiring backdrop, one of us can have the other climb up on a rock or hike along the trail. Especially when it comes to shooting for stock or other personal projects, having an adventure buddy is like always having a model along. It also means we typically have bright colored shirts or jackets just in case we need to pose for a quick shot.

Finally, make time for adventures. It’s easy to get bogged down with paid work, but some of our favorite images are those that were initially captured as unpaid work. It’s fun to go out and shoot just for us. There’s less outside pressure, and we can just get in the zone and tap into our creativity. We’ve found that the busier we get, the more we have to plan and schedule such shoots.

Website​ | ​Instagram 1​ | ​Instagram 2​

4. ​”Study the light well; be there at the right time, and if it does not play out perfectly the first time, then come back to it another day.”
Axel Sigurðarson
8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Study the Light

Image by ​Axel Sigurðarson​. Gear: ​Canon 5D Mark III​ camera, ​Canon 24-70mm f 2.8​ lens. Settings: Exposure ​1/200​ sec; f8; ISO ​200.

What’s the story behind this photo?

This photo was taken in Kerlingarfjöll, Iceland—one of many favorite places in the highlands of Iceland. It was a gloomy, overcast day, and the mist and fog come from the geothermal activity in the area. I was there on a hike with my wife, and she is the person in the photo. She is always endlessly patient while I wait for the right light or ask her to be a stand-in in photos.

8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Less is More

Image by ​Axel Sigurðarson

Pro Tip

I would say less is more with camera gear. Don’t worry too much about bringing all your lenses, etc. Once you are in a good location, the gear does not matter too much. Another thing is to research where you are going. Study the light well; be there at the right time, and if it does not play out perfectly the first time, then come back to it another day.

Website​ | ​Instagram​

5. ​”I try to give my clients space to just have fun and enjoy their adventure without posing them too much.”
Niv Shimshon​
8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Have Fun

Image by ​Niv Shimshon​. Gear: ​Canon 5D Mark IV​ camera, ​Canon 35mm 1.4​ lens. Settings: Exposure ​1/500​ sec; f3.5; ISO ​160​.

What’s the story behind this photo?

I’m a wedding and family photographer, and this is one of my favorite couples I’ve shot to date! They mentioned how much they love going on backcountry canoeing camping trips in Algonquin Provincial Park, and that is what we did for their engagement shoot. In this frame, you see them starting their first portaging after canoeing for an hour.

8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Look for Adventure

Image by ​Niv Shimshon

Pro Tip

Actively look for adventures, and shoot as much as you can—especially on your own adventures with family and friends. I think that the key is to tell an engaging story. No matter how beautiful the landscape might be, our eyes are always looking for a human within an image. In my images, I want that human to engage in some sort of activity or to connect with another human. I try to give my clients space to just have fun and enjoy their adventure without posing them too much.

Website​ | ​Instagram 1​ | ​Instagram 2​

6. ​”If you have an opportunity to work with a local escort or guide during a trip, seize the opportunity.”
​soft_light
8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Work with Local Guides

Image by ​soft_light​. Gear: Nikon D800 camera, Sigma 24-70 lens. Settings: Focal length 65mm; exposure 1/160 sec; f11; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

I’ve noticed that all my best photos were taken at the golden hour with high-quality image processing. They also incorporate a human element. This particular picture was taken in the mountains of sunny Georgia when my friends and I were returning from Tusheti province.

On our way to the next turn, we saw some local guys preparing for a paraglider flight. We drove up to them, asked them to tell us the direction they planned on flying, and continued our journey. About ten minutes later, we saw this paraglider slowly approaching. It was breathtaking to watch him soaring along green hills and snow-capped mountain peaks.

​soft_light​soft_light

Pictured: [1] ​soft_light [2] ​soft_light

Pro Tip

If you have an opportunity to work with a local escort or guide during a trip, seize the opportunity. They know all the best trails and will almost always help carry your equipment. Speaking of equipment, don’t carry all your gear with you—unless you don’t plan on returning to your hotel or parking spot all day. Usually, you’ll need two lenses maximum (a tele and a wide-angle) and maybe a drone. Save your strength for filming and taking photos.

7. ​”Do your research and scout your location.”
Blue Planet Studio
8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Scout Your Location

Image by ​Blue Planet Studio​. Gear: ​Sony A7rII​ camera, ​FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS​ lens. Settings: Focal length 16mm; exposure ​1/120​ sec; f11; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?

This photo was taken during my trip to Tasmania, Australia in December of 2018. Cradle Mountain National Park is one of my favorite destinations in Tasmania, as it offers many beautiful trekking routes and photography spots. In this case, I decided to take the Marions Lookout Track, which took me to this incredible high-angle view of Cradle Mountain.

It was a sunny summer day, and I left early in the morning to catch the first bus and avoid the crowd. I hiked alone from the bus stop to Marions Lookout. Although it was only supposed to be a one and a half-hour walk, I stopped many times to take photos along the way, so it took me three hours to get to the lookout. After finding the right composition, I placed my camera on my tripod and took this photo of myself overlooking Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake.

8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Do Your Research

Image by ​Blue Planet Studio​

Pro Tip

Do your research and scout your location. I always search for images of my destination on photography websites and Google Earth, where I find high-angle views. Weather plays an important role in outdoor photography, so I always check the weather forecast and avoid rain and harsh conditions.

Additionally, remember to check the time and direction of sunset and sunrise, and arrive at the location in time for the golden hour. If you want to capture the Milky Way, consider the moon phases as well.

8. ​”Leave some space in your backpack for a blower, a soft-bristled brush, and a microfiber cloth.”
​Tropical studio​
8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images — Keep Your Kit Clean

Image by ​Tropical studio​. Gear: ​Canon 5D Mark II​ camera, ​EF 24-70 f/2.8 L​ lens. Settings: Focal length 24mm; exposure ​1/40​ sec; f3.2; ISO ​800​.

What’s the story behind this photo?

This was my second attempt at shooting at this waterfall. The beginning of the shoot was good; it was early in the morning, and there was no one else at the waterfall, although it is a rather popular tourist destination in Bali.

Unfortunately, that was where our luck ended, as sudden rain clouds appeared, and the humidity because unacceptable. In the end, we were forced to return home without a single successful shot, but the next day, we came back and made it work.

​Tropical studio​​Tropical studio​

Pictured: [1] ​Tropical studio​ [2] ​Tropical studio​

Pro Tip

When packing your camera bag, remember to provide additional protection for your camera and lenses, as it’s not always possible to shoot under ideal conditions when you’re on an outdoor adventure. Bring a rain/dust-proof cover for your bag or, if you don’t have one, a large garbage bag to use as a cover.

I always keep small carabiner and a bit of paracord in my bag as well. This is a perfect device for just about anything, especially if you’re shooting without assistance. I’ve used it to fix a backpack on steep rocks (without fear of losing it) or to hang it on a tree.

Leave some space in your backpack for a blower, a soft-bristled brush, and a microfiber cloth. If you are planning to shoot waterfalls or any other water activities, a large microfiber towel will come in handy as well. I also recommend an additional protective filter—sometimes it’s easier just to change it rather than trying to clean it on location. These small things do not take up much space, but they will make life much easier and help protect your equipment.

Top Image by ​Brenda and Marc Bergreen.

Want to learn more about adventure photography? Check these out.

Six Photographers on How to Scout Locations for Outdoor Lifestyle Shoots
7 Adventure-Seeking Outdoor Photographers to Follow on Instagram
Featured Interview with Adventure and Commercial Photographer Michael Overbeck
The Surprising Things In the Camera Bags of Adventure Photographers
Top Photographers Share Tips on Shooting Outdoors at Night

The post 8 Adventure Photographers Share Tips on Taking Powerful Images appeared first on The Shutterstock Blog.

Read more: shutterstock.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *