Photography in the outdoors

Joe Hayes By Joe Hayes

Outdoor photographer Joe Hayes shares his passion for taking photos outdoors. He gives us his top 3 tips, explaining how he gets the perfect picture and how the outdoors has inspired his creativity.

Bay at sunset

I am relatively new to the photography field… it all started with a good friend showing me the ‘rule of thirds’ on my trusty iPhone camera (The rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section – Wikipedia) and since then, a year and a half ago, I have seen more of the outdoors than ever before in my life, and I feel my creativity has gone through the ceiling!

I bought my DSLR camera in November 2016, a backpack and a waterproof coat… and there I was… a photographer (or Tog in the photography world!), ready to explore the great outdoors!

I wanted to write this short blog, to share with you all, why I LOVE photography in the outdoors so much, and why if you don’t already… you should certainly give it a go!

1. The ability to relax and be patient

Lifeguard tower on beach at sunset

I’ve always been quite an energetic being, and historically have found it incredibly difficult to relax and be patient. Outdoor photography requires an element of patience to get the perfect shot, for example the tide might be too high and you need to wait for it to drop a little before you can reach your prime location, or the sun might need to drop a little more before you can capture the texture and colours that you wanted from a beautiful sunset.

In both cases, you really have two options:

  1. Wait until the conditions are just right for what you need, capture the perfect photo, and spend the ride home with the biggest grin on your face or,
  2. Turn around, walk back to the car and drive home with an empty SD memory card and no memories to share with the world.

Refusing the latter has taught me to be patient, and, whilst waiting for the perfect conditions for the shot, I can take in the beautiful surroundings, breath the fresh seaside air, listen to the bird song, and relax.

Before I realised that outdoor photography was my passion and hobby, I could count the number of times I had relaxed in the last 5 years (twice… at a Centre Parcs spa – I managed to fall asleep in the relaxation room, filled with strangers (insert crying laughter emoji here), and since Nov 16, I have found myself relaxing on a weekly basis!

2. Exploration

Sturminster Newton Mill

I am lucky to live in the South Coast of England, in Dorset, a place famous for its photography hot spots (Jurassic Coast, Corfe Castle, Littlebredy etc). Despite its well-known landmarks, the South Coast, particularly Dorset, is also full of little golden surprises that can be found through word of mouth, researching the maps, or purely through exploration.

I love outdoor photography as it allows me to spend a whole day/weekend exploring the South Coast. Not only does it provide an awesome photo opportunity of a beautiful landscape, along the way I will also find things that I’d never normally see if I spent weekends trudging through shopping centers, or staying inside watching Jeremy Kyle.

A few months back, I was accompanied by a few great mates (and photographers!) and on the walk back from the location (Sturminster Newton Mill – Check it out... it’s awesome) we saw a Kingfisher bird dart across in front of our eyes and planted himself nicely on top of a tree in the near distance. I’d never seen one before and it was a moment when you stop and just watch; how peaceful – something I’d never have seen if I had not explored the local area!

3. You never know what might happen…

River falls
Corfe Castle in snow

Anyone can spend all the time in the world checking forecasts and weather conditions, tide times, location etc. However I can honestly say (as I’ve experienced it myself) you just never know what might happen.

The element of not knowing always adds excitement to outdoor photography. I have been out shooting sunset several times, thinking that it was time to go home as the sun had dropped and there was no colour… and all of a sudden… boom, the skyline lights up like a Christmas tree.

Shooting outdoors never fails to amaze me; I can go to the same location twice and because of the exceptionally dissimilar weather conditions, the end result (being the photo) can look so satisfyingly different and fresh! I will take this opportunity to challenge you to head out to a cool location and shoot sunset on a Friday evening. Go back to the same location at exactly the same time but on the following day and shoot the sunset again; when you compare the shots, I promise that both pictures will look so incredibly different… it always surprises me and I find that exciting about shooting outdoors.

To summarise

Dorset Coastline

I am so much more satisfied when I go back to work on Monday mornings, knowing I have created awesome memories, captured some cool photos and had the ability to be creative over the weekend.

I find the creativity side of photography so empowering, as you are constantly challenged with difficult conditions (light, composition, the elements being rain/wind/snow etc) and the ability to capture a great shot despite these things is so fulfilling and rewarding!

I’ve also met some truly amazing people who share the same passion as me, and are equally as excited to wake up at 4am to capture an incredible sunrise.

So… the key reasons for why I LOVE outdoors photography so much?

  • It allows me to be patient and relax – something which I find so beneficial to anyone!
  • Gives me an excuse to explore the beautiful world that we live in
  • Whatever the weather… the shot you take at the end is ALWAYS different – either due to weather conditions or how you frame the subject
  • Meeting incredible like-minded people who share the same passion for outdoors photography as I do!

Ultimately, outdoors photography has given me the opportunity to see the wonderful world in a different way, and I am proud to say it is my hobby for life!

Find out more about Joe Hayes.

Joe Hayes By Joe Hayes


Joe is an enthusiastic photographer based in Dorset. He loves landscapes, automotive and street photography.

Find out more about Joe Hayes on Facebook; Instagram: joehayesphoto; Twitter: joehayes83