Looks aren’t everything. What might be a trendy look today likely will seem gaudy tomorrow. Any relationship built entirely on aesthetics is unhealthy and this includes the art we create. There should be more than just a pretty picture to what we are drawn to. Landscape photography as an art ought to mean a connection to the place captured and showing it off in a personal way.
Beautiful images are dime-a-dozen and new ones are captured every day. In a world where cameras and the medium, in general, is more accessible than ever we have to do more to stand out. A stunning sunset happens somewhere in the world every day and there will likely be several photographers there to document it.
Great photography tends to go deeper than the surface of a print. Printing your work is a great way of learning and getting the work out there that you create, but it isn’t going to stand out on this point alone. There is no magic fix to elevating the quality of images. There is a way of working towards art that means more than what it is on its own.
Attaching photography to a cause or showing some form of drama or connection to a landscape is important in getting past a pretty view. The first time we see something or someone it is easy to take the interaction at face value. The more they are re-visited we learn more about what is behind their looks. What makes that subject compelling may change and become more revealing. Your approach is different and more close to the essence of the subject each time.
I have been to the same place on Mt Hood many times shooting slightly different images each time. I learned what I liked about the location, and I focused in on only those features. It is easy to get distracted by a panoramic landscape because everything is beautiful. The real story though is usually a more focused symbiotic relationship between specific elements.
I don't mean to get too philosophical as there is value in the way a photograph looks. There still is such a thing as bad photography because it is ugly, bad, etc... The work created still has to have some aesthetic merit! The goal is to show how a photo can be more than just the value placed on the way it looks and how becoming more knowledgeable about a location helps to create something different.
The end result can still be beautiful. In a world where people are more interested in getting one shot and being done. Creating a copy of an iconic image is all the deeper many want to go and that can be a recipe for becoming frustrated later on. If you want to go beyond the aesthetics of images and capture images that have a voice of their own it takes more effort.
Just like any other relationship, it takes work and dedication. Creating beautiful images is just one part of landscape art. It is the easiest thing to do because we can just copy other’s aesthetically attractive work. Focusing on having a voice and more personable art is a healthier approach to photography. Whatever that might mean to you, make it your own.