As a landscape photographer, you’re often drawn to the wide vistas and expansive sceneries you capture. However, even the tiniest subjects can have a big impact. Photographs of intimate landscapes can provide stunning images on their own or enhance the grand views that draw viewers to your work.

To photograph intimate landscapes, you need to incorporate design elements like lines, textures, patterns, colors and shapes into the frame. Look out for details that tell a story about a subject or give viewers background information. The type of elements you want to capture when shooting an intimate landscape are present in these “small details.”

Read on for tips and a tutorial to help you navigate intimate landscape photography.

Quick Navigation

  • What Makes a Great Intimate Landscape?
  • Equipment Choices
  • Compositional Techniques
    • Lines
    • Repetition
    • Depiction
    • Separation
    • Contrast
  • The Framing
  • The Colors
  • 8 Simple Tips For Better Intimate Landscape Photography
    • 1. Start Small
    • 2. Get Closer
    • 3. Eliminate Distractions
    • 4. Go Wide Then Narrow
    • 5. Look For Patterns, Textures, Shapes & Lines
    • 6. Use The Scene For Multiple Shots
    • 7. Emphasize The Focal Point
    • 8. Notice Details in Abstract Compositions
  • Have Fun!
  • Conclusion

What Makes a Great Intimate Landscape?

This branch of nature photography deserves some appreciation. Intimate landscape photos seduce us with delicacy and peaceful invitation, unlike the grand landscape which dazzles us with vivid colors and stunning perspectives. It lures us to delve deeper into the moment captured in the image.

Making great intimate landscapes is all about the little things. Think of landscape photos as falling into three subgenres: the expansive view, the extreme close-up, or the intimate landscape photography.

It takes more than just filling the frame with objects to create the intimate compositions of a landscape, even though textures, lines, shapes and patterns are important elements. It tells a piece of the story.

Consider what “smaller details” are present at any location that provide context for the area. Once you have the full scene, compose it using an aesthetically pleasing layout. The mix of pebbles, seaweed and a bird feather at the beach conveys a complete narrative. You can get a sense of the setting from any intimate vignettes.

Equipment Choices

Many often carry just one lens, as the goal is to capture the subtleties of a larger landscape. Check out the list below to make sure you have what you need when shooting intimate landscapes:

Extra Lenses

Because you only have one lens, you have to focus on finding a compelling subject and creating a great image. Changing lenses means losing time at the location to search, explore and shoot.

Without the weight of extra gear, you can move faster, hike further and find things you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. It can be hard to stay focused on that when you’re constantly swapping lenses.

Mid-Range Zoom Lens

A mid-range zoom lens works best for capturing an intimate landscape. Wide-angle lenses are often popular with landscape photographers.

But when it comes to a small, intimate scene, wide-angle lenses tend to include too much background and too many distracting elements, taking away from the key details that are the main focus. While not a hard rule, a mid-range zoom with a fast aperture often works best.


A tripod is another essential gear item for capturing the intimate details of your intimate landscape. A tripod helps you slow down, even in conditions where you have ample light and may not need a longer shutter speed.

You can take time to get to know the area and find the unique nuances that make a scene special – the ideal setting for your intimate landscape.

Compositional Techniques

Just because we aren’t photographing grand vistas doesn’t mean we should neglect sound compositional techniques. The same compositional strategies still apply when practicing intimate landscape photography. We can approach this subgenre in many different ways.


Lines are one of the best ways to guide your viewer around a small scene. Using lines from nature isn’t limited to just expansive landscapes.

Even when photographing intimate landscapes, leading lines are a great way to show the viewer the image’s main subject.


This technique allows you to showcase a larger scene that at first glance appears to just repeat the same thing. But the beauty of this technique is that upon closer inspection, the viewer can revel in the variations that are often seen in nature.


Remember trying to identify shapes in passing clouds when you were little? The idea is the same here.

The goal is finding natural elements that mimic something completely different. The appeal of this technique lies in its ability to capture your and the viewer’s imagination.


Isolation is often found in varying textures and light rather than dramatic fog when capturing more abstract landscapes. The sudden change in texture in an image is what tells the whole story.


When capturing more abstract features in the environment, similar to balancing in expansive views, you can compare different elements using a this vs. that approach. The idea works well when two contrasting natural components coexist harmoniously in a confined space.

Simple examples are dark vs. light background or complementary colors. Or it can be more complex, like photos showing the difference between still and reflected water waves.

The Framing

The concept of framing is useful in many aspects of photography, but especially in grand landscape work. With framing, you make the main subject the focus of some vignette form by using a portion of the surrounding area.

The framing technique requires the photographer to find anything in the environment that draws the viewer towards a particular section of the image. It’s similar to how a frame enhances a photo or painting by pulling the viewer into the center.

The Colors

All landscape photographers should learn about and get comfortable with the color wheel. This is especially true when it comes to complementary and analogous colors.

Analogous colors create harmony because they are close to each other on the color wheel, while complementary colors are on opposite sides. You need to understand how colors interact with each other.

8 Simple Tips For Better Intimate Landscape Photography

Here are some photography tips to help you navigate the world of intimate landscape photography:

1. Start Small

One advantage of finding intimate landscapes is that you don’t need to visit iconic parks like Glacier or Zion. You can find it everywhere – in your backyard, local parks, along a creek, city museum, nearby forests.

Anytime you take your camera out for a walk, you’ll come across intimate landscapes. You’ll find that up-close landscapes often lend themselves to various styles.

2. Get Closer

A telephoto lens is great for honing in on small scenes in the most interesting area. Use a telephoto zoom or prime lens to compress and eliminate distracting elements from the scene by framing it tightly.

If you don’t have a telephoto, you can use a mid-range lens and then “zoom with your feet” to get closer to your subject.

Try using your 24-70mm lens to capture a scene with a mountain and grand vista. Take a few steps forward and start looking for interesting compositions, or zoom into the longer focal lengths on your lens. Doing so will train your eye to see in smaller details.

3. Eliminate Distractions

Getting into the habit of asking yourself “Is this a key part of the photo?” while shooting intimate landscapes is valuable. A slight change in perspective can make distracting elements disappear in more intimate compositions.

The sky is one element that often steals attention from your subject. Work to exclude the sky from your composition as much as possible.

It will detract your viewer from the main focus of your shot since it’s usually the brightest part of your frame. By removing context from our landscape shots, we allow our viewers to see with their imagination.

4. Go Wide Then Narrow

You may pull out your wide-angle lens as you approach that beautiful, expansive scene. Start looking for the more compelling compositions that fit within the bigger picture.

Use a wide-angle lens to capture a shot, then use your camera’s magnify button on the back to scan through the image to look for any small scenes. This will help you find more intimate photos within the frame.

Before even taking out your camera, you can use a viewfinder card to frame smaller scenes. A viewfinder card is a small mat board with an opening sized to your sensor.

5. Look For Patterns, Textures, Shapes & Lines

The two dimensions of an image are its limitations. So there are a few extra tools you can use to add implied depth and movement to your composition.

The photographer can create an appealing photo using techniques like texture, lines, colors, tonal range, and shapes.

When you train your eye to recognize the basic elements of composition, you’ll start seeing them everywhere – in the texture of grasses, the contrast of colors on the water’s surface, the shapes and lines of twigs, the forms of rocks.

Leverage the colors in nature photography. Develop your two-dimensional vision.

6. Use The Scene For Multiple Shots

Consider using intimate landscapes to tell a broader story about the location you’re photographing.

For example, looking inside an abandoned building you may see various discarded objects that reveal the place had been left to decay. Combined with other shots, it conveys a richer narrative than an image of the building alone.

7. Emphasize The Focal Point

You can think of a suitable focal point as the anchor in landscape composition, like an eye-catching boulder at a canyon entrance. Once you’ve captured that composition, try using the focal point itself as a separate composition.

For instance in street photography, the grass itself makes a lovely subject, and the water mirroring the sky provides subtle added interest to the photo.

8. Notice Details in Abstract Compositions

Abstract painting offers lots of options with this landscape style. Intimate landscapes can’t rely on dramatic sunrises to draw in viewers. So composition is key in creating an intimate experience.

Consider alternatives to the “rule of thirds,” often used in photographing nature’s smaller scenes. Pay special attention to how the composition’s lines and shapes direct the viewer’s eye and how they might evoke emotion.

For example, horizontal lines evoke calm since everything parallel to the earth is at rest. Vertical lines give a sense of strength, size and force. Diagonal lines produce movement and energy. Also, symmetry implies stability.

Have Fun!

It’s very refreshing and memorable to discover and capture intimate, grand landscapes. Remember to look for playful images in addition to serious, artistic ones!


Intimate landscape photography is a challenging yet rewarding photographic approach. Your photos tend to be more original, artistic and emotional as you’re capturing intimate moments.

With this, you can connect with your audience in a more profound and meaningful way than ever before.