When it comes to landscape photography, what’s most important: light or composition? This question has been making the rounds in some online communities recently, so Australian photographer Andrew Marr decided to tackle the subject and share his take on how to best balance these two key elements.
In Marr’s mind, there’s a clear distinction between light and composition as they relate to landscape photography. Light is a dynamic element that you have at your disposal when capturing a photograph; Composition is how you choose to combine various elements to tell a story. In that regard, composition is king, since light is only one element of many—albeit a very important one.
“The composition isn’t part of the story, but it’s how the story of the landscape is told,” explains Marr. “So I see composition as an essential part of every image because without an effective composition that supports the story I’m trying to capture, the image doesn’t have as much impact.”
His point is that the importance of the light in your image varies depending on the photo you’re taking, while the composition of that image is always essential. To that end, he’s come up with three “tips” that he suggests landscape photographers follow when they think about the light in their images:
- Don’t be ruled by the light – Don’t limit yourself to only shooting with stunning light.
- Don’t rely on good light – Build up your composition skills instead.
- We can’t control the light – However, it’s helpful to develop an understanding of how to read the light.
While light is obviously crucial in the sense that you need light in order to capture anything, Marr believes that “good” light or the “quality” of the light in a landscape photograph is, in the end, just one element of many. Good composition can save an image taken in flat or uninteresting light; but even good light won’t save you if your composition is miserable.
Check out the full video above to hear all of Marr’s thoughts on this subject, and if you have something to add to the discussion, drop a comment down below.