A Bad Day in the Life of a Landscape Photographer

You may not think so at first, but landscape photography isn’t all just rainbows and being one with nature; there are good days and bad days. Sometimes, you wake up to dark, rainy, crazy wind-blowing weather and you have to decide if it’s even worth it to go out. Will the weather break? Will there be a moment of light coming through the stormy clouds just long enough to get a great shot? Or will you just end up sitting there all day in the freezing cold to go home with nothing? Landscape photographer Thomas Heaton takes us along on just one of those days, and although the day, mood, and process seem dismal, the final message is inspiring:

“Waking up in the darkness of early morning to howling wind and heavy rain is never encouraging as a landscape photographer; however, I do believe that the best conditions often happen just after the worst weather.”

Definitely not for the first time, Heaton wakes up one morning to dark, cold, rainy weather and decides anyway to continue with his intended hike into the woods to get some early morning landscape shots. He heads to a location he had previously scouted, hoping for the best. But, in the end, it isn’t working for him—the light isn’t right, the conditions are too brutal—for whatever reason.

But, that’s OK; he’s got another location in mind that he thinks will work. It doesn’t.

shooting bad weather

On to the third location of the day, where Heaton plays the waiting game for two hours. He just needs the sky to cooperate to get even one brief lovely burst of sunlight.

outdoor lighting conditions

“Did I mention that the cabin where I’m staying has a hot tub, and a fridge full of beer, and chocolate digestives? Sometimes, I question what I’m doing, you know.”

Heaton’s honesty, as melancholy as it is, is refreshing. And endearing. And relatable.

Dedicated and persistent, Heaton is praised as one of the hardest working landscape photographers out there. So, it’s not surprising that he pushes on. He’s determined to get at least one good shot out of this crummy, depressing day. That’s really what it’s all about, waiting and working for even one good shot that will make it all worth it.

And, in the end—after hiking from location to location in terrible weather, spirits breaking down with every step and failed result, and even dealing with the unfortunate reality of an ensuing dead battery—Heaton finds his picturesque scene, with welcoming warm light from a beautiful setting sun.

post rain sunset photo

Sometimes, you just have a bad day as a landscape photographer. Not getting the light you hope for can be disappointing; poor weather depressing. But, as Heaton says,

“That’s photography. If it was easy, it would be boring.”

Launch sale ending soon: The Landscape Photographer’s Lightroom Presets

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

2 Comments

  1. Yes indeed, I feel as though I’ve lived this article a hundred times over. When I have this conversation with others I always hear “you’ve got hundreds and hundreds of published photos with great light”. My answer is typical of many in this business, for each keeper I’ve deleted a hundred and for each successful day I’ve experienced a week of meh!

    Nice article, thanks!

  2. Pat says:

    Great story. Very inspiring and useful and educational as well.

Leave a Comment

Personalize your comment with an avatar from Gravatar.com!

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever