How Did I Get the Shot? Southwest Florida

Excelling in landscape photography takes some thought and preparation. It’s not a drive-by shooting out the car window and it’s not a mid-day shot when you’re having a picnic with your family. In my new series of articles, I will tell you what my process was, and how I got the shot. Sometimes, it’s pure luck.

But it’s always about being at the right place at the right time in the right light. So, then it’s not just luck, is it?

Whenever I go anywhere, I make an effort to either be out at sunrise or sunset to find the best opportunities landscape photography. On this trip to Southwest Florida, I was there visiting family, so it was not purely a photographic trip. My time was split between attending to my aging parents and spending time with other family members. But, as a dedicated photographer, I always find time to find a place and time to shoot.

Have a vision

As this area of Southwest Florida is known for its shell filled beaches, I wanted to capture a shot highlighting the numerous shells that I have seen on their beaches in the past. My first attempt at this was to try a sunset. As I was on the gulf coast, the sunsets can be spectacular, but the night I was there, it was warm, crowded, and the sky didn’t give me a great opportunity for a good landscape photo. My vision for that evening was to get a spectacular golden sunset. No such luck.

The next day, I returned to the beach with only my favorite 50mm prime lens (equivalent 100mm with my Olympus Mirrorless). It’s tack sharp and is great for wildlife. What I realized, was this beach had some pretty birds, but the real story here was about the shells and the water. I would need to return to my car and get my wide lens or come back the next morning when I had more time and the light was better.

The next morning, my intention for this shoot was to capture the wide angle of the beach with the proliferation of shells in the morning light. The shells are the best early morning there because they have not been picked through and have had the evening to roll up on the beach. This turned out to be the perfect moment and the right time for this image. As you can see, I tried a few different angles on it, but I was happy with the end result. But it was not a drive-by shooting or a one-shot image. It took some time to develop the shot I really wanted and it took a few visits to get it right

The moral of this story…
Take some time with your photography and form an intention for what you want and how you want to shoot it. The creative process can take some time, but if you think through it, you can capture something great.

If you would like some help with your photographic vision, join us at Jansen Photo Expeditions for one of our private or group workshops in California, Oregon, Wyoming, Iceland, Costa Rica or the destination of your choice. You will have an enriching learning experience and go home with a camera full of prized photographs.

Did you like the subject of this article? Consider these blogs as well!

How to Take Advantage of the Sweet Light in Landscape Photography

5 Things You Need to Know About Dynamic Photography Landscapes

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Holly Higbee-Jansen is photographer, trainer, blogger, and workshop leader who enjoys teaching and the creative process. Her passions include teaching photography workshops in beautiful locations in California, Iceland, Costa Rica and the American West with her husband Mark. Holly also teaches online classes on Lightroom, Photoshop and photographic technique. Get Holly's Free E-Book on "Landscape Photography and the Light" and find out about her newest workshops at


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Mark and Holly Jansen
Jansen Photo Expeditions
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