How can one measure their best day? You get that question sometimes. What has been your best day? Your wedding day, the birth of a child, avoiding a speeding ticket while you were clearly at fault? These are all great days of course. But what about your hobby or your profession? What about something less earth-shattering and seemingly a normal day. Well, that’s the type of day I had. Let me explain.
As I’ve discussed in other posts, I picked up landscape photography as a hobby/passion later in life. So, my days as a photographer don’t span decades, rather just a few short years. It seemed like the first 6 months were filled with great days. Catching that first sunset or sunrise. Figuring out how to do long exposure photos. Getting 100 likes on a photo on Instagram. Yes, that still is fun when that happens. But, like any other passion, you quickly start to achieve major milestones and soon start to judge your work or your growth differently. You start to want to improve on things that you maybe didn’t even realize you needed improvement on before. Some self-doubt can set in as you discover you aren’t hitting those major growth milestones as quickly as you think you should be.
For me, I was starting to question whether I could tell a story with my photos. I heard that a lot. Tell a story. I looked back over my pictures from the past two years and I saw a lot of nice landscape photos. Some are even really good in my humble opinion. But that was it. That was the end of the story. Here is a destination I visited and here is a picture of that place. Sure they might have been well composed or with some unexpected foreground elements, but they were less than inspiring. They were the same images you would see if you looked that destination up on Google.
So these past couple of months I’ve started to question whether I could up my game and take my photography to another level. If I could, with a single image tell a story. Evoke an emotion. Allow the viewer into the scene where they could remember a time, or imagine themselves at that scene. Or see beyond the pretty picture and conclude what might be happening.
That brings me to my best day so far as a landscape photographer. It was a Thursday night and expected to be a beautiful summer sunset in Washington State. So I headed out to Tacoma where I knew the location I wanted to visit. Now I’ve shot here before, but I would usually take myself to a location that I knew I would be alone, or away from the crowds. Not this time. This time I headed to a very popular fishing pier. I headed to where the people were.
I popped my earphones in, turned on my favorite playlist, and started to take my typical pictures of the surrounding area. Beautiful picture of Mount Rainier, check. A sailboat passing by, check. The Olympic mountains in the far-off distance, check. Then I took a break. I was waiting for the sun to get a little lower in the sky to get that golden glow. What I started to notice was all the people there. Fishing, watching the sunset, hanging out with their friends and families, etc. I was amazed by the cast of characters that were there in front of me. The story was right there!
So I fell into sort of a “runner high” so to speak. I started shooting and shooting. I pulled out a wide-angle lens to capture some unique perspectives. I was bold about taking pictures with people in my view. Capturing all the action around me. I captured silent moments with no people, but you could tell from the image they were not far away. I felt great! The sunset didn’t disappoint either. But I felt for the first time I was telling a story. I felt I got it, finally. Now, I’m sure I’ll still get those banger shots with beautiful destinations, mountains, lakes, etc. But I also felt a connection to the story that night. It’s something that I want to continue to work on and develop. I hope you enjoy these images as much as I do and let me know if you feel they tell a story and what story you see.
Here are a few of my personal favorite from that day.
Explore · Take a Picture · Tell a Story
Paul Marcoe is a landscape photographer from Washington State and his gallery can be found at paulmarcoe.com. All images ©Paul Marcoe.